The new Bentley EXP12 Speed 6e reminds us that when it comes to building mid-sized convertible concepts, Bentley has form.
The firm wowed Geneva in 1994 with a great-looking design proposal called Java, created by a co-operation between former Bentley-Rolls-Royce designer Graham Hull and the former Rover design boss, Royden Axe, at a Warwick-based company Axe formed called Design Research Associates.
The car was based on BMW 5 Series underpinnings and received wide acclaim for the way it carried Bentley’s prestigious design values on what was then an unprecedentedly small car. But Bentley, which was combined with Rolls-Royce at the time, was a subsidiary of the Vickers aircraft conglomerate in 1994 and didn’t have the finance or the appetite for taking a risk. So the car never made production, even though calls for its emergence continued long after Geneva 1994 and brought Axe back to notice in what was the twilight of his career.