Borrowed from the old Turbo R, the 6.75 produced 395bhp but, more impressive, 616lb ft of torque. Bentley enthusiasts felt the Arnage at last had the engine it deserved, since the smaller BMW unit produced just 344bhp and a dismal 420lb ft. The German engine was bang up to date, though: easier to live with, more responsive and more economical. If you can see beyond the allure of an early 6.75, a 4.4 Arnage is a better buy.
To distinguish the two cars, those with the BMW engine were rebranded Green Label and those with the revised 6.75 were called Red Label. In 2000, the 4.4 was dropped, which left the Red Label to power the Arnage into the noughties – a mission it accomplished in style.
The first big milestone was the launch, in 2001, of the RL. More than just a stretched Red Label, it was powered by a heavily revised version of the 6.75 engine, with Bosch Motronic fuel injection and two turbochargers. Power remained unchanged at 395bhp and 616lb ft but, thanks to its cleaner emissions, the Arnage’s future was secured.
In 2002, the Red Label gave way to the twin-turbo Series 2 Arnage R, later joined by a hot sports version called the Arnage T with 453bhp and 645lb ft. If you can stretch to it (prices start at £22,995) and can afford the maintenance bills, this is the Arnage to buy. Better still is the post-2007 revised version with 493bhp and a scarcely believable 738lb ft. Prices for these start at around £42,000.
There were special editions, notably those inspired by Bentley’s Le Mans successes. Eventually, with the Final Series in 1998, the Arnage bowed out. True, today, the cheapest Arnage may be the price of a new Fiesta and in no time could easily cost as much again to run but, as that old sage once said, it’s not money we’re short of: it’s time. Try it on your bank manager.