Imagine having that awkward conversation on your return home from what’s become Britain’s biggest annual petrolhead’s weekend.
“So how was the Festival of Speed, dear? Did you have fun?”
“Fun? Oh yes, dear; lots, thank you. The weather was lovely, the hillclimbing was brilliant, the crowds weren’t too bad, and little Jonny and his friend had a marvellous time. And I, err... cough... bought a £60,000 Bentley Continental. Had to; it was half-price. And after all, you said I couldn’t sign up for anything new.”
It could happen; Bentley is breaking the mould at this year’s festival by actually selling real used cars, damn them. For every other manufacturer the event is purely about generating ‘hot leads’ for the latest new models. But after dipping its toe with a separate ‘Bentley Preowned’ stand in 2014, the firm has gone bigger and better this year, and has invited four of its biggest dealers to use the occasion to actually sell approved used cars to show-goers.
It’s all part of a push to develop the secondhand side of the Bentley main dealer business, and by doing so to broaden the reach of the brand, and to make a worthwhile improvement on Bentley residual values, driving down cost-of-ownership. If that sounds a bit dry, think of it this way: Bentley’s making it cheaper and easier to own its secondhand metal. You have been warned.
The dealer financiers are in attendance. More than half of all the used cars sold by Bentley franchised dealers this year have been sold on finance, and if you’re not very careful, those money men could sign you up for a six-year-old Continental GT for a similar kind of outlay to that new Range Rover Sport you’ve been thinking about: circa £800-a-month. Which, for a Bentley, doesn’t sound like very much – even to a road test pauper like yours truly.
But doesn’t Colin Goodwin’s old adage apply: “if you can’t afford to buy one new, you can’t afford to run one secondhand.” Not, perhaps, when the ‘Bentley Preowned’ scheme includes a main dealer warranty for anything up to three years (even on cars up to ten years old), an MOT pass guarantee, and inclusive servicing packages for less than £100-a-month. I;m beginning to sound like an advertising voiceover artiste, I know - and owning a Bentley is never going to feel thrifty. But it’s remarkable how sensible they can make it sound.
So if you’re at the festival this weekend, be careful what you sign up for. There’s a rather lovely Arnage to be particularly careful of. And a dark red Continental GT V8 coupe…