More stories related to 2005 Greater L.A. Auto ShowLOS ANGELES – Bentley Motors Inc. unveils what could be the drop-top successor to the recently discontinued Azure, which ended its 8-year lifespan in 2003.

Like the Azure, the British auto maker’s Arnage Drophead Coupe concept is based on the Arnage architecture.

Bentley Chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen tells Ward’s the vehicle could go on sale in world markets as soon as spring 2006 if reaction to the concept is favorable.

The vehicle “has been a secret for a while in the company” and “is more than just a mere concept.” The vehicle, unveiled at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show here, is production ready and would serve as “the pinnacle of the Bentley range” if it gets the green light for assembly.

The Drophead is fitted with a 3-fold top, which folds flush in the rear in 25 seconds. Its convertible bodystyle restricts seating to four, although it is 20% wider than the Azure.

It carries the Bentley 6.75L turbocharged V-8, capable of 450 hp and 645 lb.S-ft. (875 Nm) of torque.

jstoll@primediabusiness.com