CHICAGO – Bentley Motors Ltd. is looking forward to a fivefold sales increase this year after the spring release of the Continental GT – a vehicle that’s racking up awards and accolades months before it hits the rarefied super-luxury market.
Continental GT goes on sale this spring.

The auto maker expects 2,000 U.S. customers to indulge in the $149,990 “entry-level” Bentley, contributing to projected overall sales results of 2,200. The remaining 200 units will be of the $199,990 Arnage.

The auto maker sold 400 Bentleys in the U.S. in 2003. While only a slight increase over 2002 totals, sales “exceeded the combined total of our new competitive entrants,” says Alasdair Stewart, CEO of Bentley Motors Inc., Bentley’s U.S. arm.

The reason for the dramatic increase expected this year, Stewart says, is the $50,000 lower price point pf the Continental GT. While 99.9% of the population never would be able to afford either model, the price differential manages to draw lines among upper echelons.

“Oh, there is a difference,” Stewart says.

Meanwhile, the auto maker gives new meaning to the term “limited edition” with the unveiling of a new, ultra-exclusive trim level to the Arnage R.

Bentley only plans to craft 26 units of the Arnage R by Mulliner, and most already are spoken for, Stewart says.

Bentley’s Mulliner group is in charge of making its handcrafted cars truly bespoke, fulfilling customer wishes limited only by imagination and money, Stewart says.

Special features on this customized special edition include 19-in., 12-spoke wheels; chrome exterior highlighting; split-rim wood-and-hide steering wheel and a fully featured interior with Bentley wings. These special features add $13,000 to the base price of the Arnage R, bringing the collector’s edition to $212,990.

kzachary@primediabusiness.com