Used car buying guide: Bentley Continental Flying Spur
Flying Spur is four-wheel drive, with a bias to the rear axle
A Bentley Continental Flying Spur for less than £20k? If that spurs you on, pay close attention because a good one will be glorious, a ropey one ruinous
Launched in 2005, the Bentley Continental Flying Spur cost £133,200. Today, you can have this sibling saloon to the GT coupé on your drive for just £17,500.
That’s what one private seller is asking for their 2005/55-reg Spur. It has done a healthy 97,000 miles, as distinct from an unhealthy 30,000 miles or so shuffling around London. For the past seven years, it has been maintained by a Bentley specialist and the seller has every invoice detailing work done. Recent jobs have included new front upper suspension arms and air struts.
With potentially ruinously expensive cars such as an old Spur, the trick to buying a good one is that it has not only full main or specialist service history but also evidence of obsessively careful stewardship. On that point, it’s reassuring to see that the seller of this Spur has gone to the trouble of renewing its two ignition keys, which, they say, were looking “tatty”. They also had the wheels refurbished and overmats replaced. Perhaps the most reassuring thing of all, though, is that the experience of owning an old Spur has been so positive that they’re looking to repeat it with a newer model…
It’s got to be worth a look if only to raise the bonnet and gaze upon its magnificent 553bhp 6.0-litre twin-turbo W12. It produces 479lb ft at just 1600rpm, a combination guaranteed to provide the smoothest, most unruffled progress. On the other hand, if you need to shake off the hoi polloi, it can spring to attention and hurl you from standstill to 62mph in 4.9sec on its way to 190mph.
Drive goes to all four wheels via a six-speed ZF automatic gearbox. The system favours the rear wheels, so with lightweight, multi-link suspension and self-levelling air springs providing poise and controllability, and huge 405mm disc brakes the stopping power, this 2.5-tonne leviathan can really cut some shapes.
The Continental Flying Spur was launched a couple of years after the GT coupé. Having tasted success with the 2+2, it was only a matter of time before Bentley created a five-seater – a genuine five-seater, too, with a boot to match.
Like the GT, the Spur is closely related to the Volkswagen Phaeton and Audi A8. VW had owned Bentley for only seven years so it made sense to pool resources. However, VW was careful to preserve Bentley’s DNA, evident in everything from the Spur’s sheer refinement to its lustrous paint.
Halfway through its life cycle, in 2009, the Spur was facelifted (restyled grille, new bumpers, a quieter cabin, retuned steering and suspension) while a second model, called the Speed, brought an uprated 600bhp W12 to the line-up.
The Speed is rare. In contrast, there’s a world of ‘standard’ used Spurs at prices ranging from £17,000 to £45,000, with £30,000 being about right for a nice facelifted car. Many have been well looked after, too, so do your checks and sample club class for economy money.
How to get one in your garage
An expert’s view
Adrian Worth, Co-founder, Prestige Services, Leeds: “I joined Appleyard Rippon, a Bentley agent, as a trainee technician in 1974. Twenty years later, I left to start my own business with a partner, servicing and selling Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. So you’d expect me to revere the old Bentleys, and I do, but I’ve a lot of time for the Continental Flying Spur. I know it shares many parts with the VW Phaeton and Audi A8 – in fact, dig around and you soon find bits stamped with VW and Audi logos – but these were extremely well-built cars, so that’s okay. In any case, Bentley managed to imbue the car with an authentic charm and character. I just have to drive one and I’m back in love with it all over again!”
■ Engine: Check for misfiring and lumpy idling caused by faulty coil packs. Avoid any car with head gasket leaks. Check the turbo oil pipe and vacuum pipes for leaks. Ensure the cooling fan works. Examine the coolant for contamination and the radiator for corrosion.
■ Suspension: Check the four-mode CDC (continuous damping control) system works. If the car is sitting awkwardly, suspect leaky suspension legs. These can strain suspension top mount bushes, which will need to be replaced. Listen for anti-roll bar bushes knocking.
■ Brakes: Check for the electronic parking brake warning light. The car thinks the parking brake’s on when it isn’t and goes into limp-home mode. If the parking brake won’t release, suspect the brake motors.
■ Electrics: Be sure the engine management light works. Some rogues remove the bulb to disguise expensive problems. Have the batteries checked. There are two, in the boot. The nearside one powers the systems and the smaller, offside one is a reserve for starting the car should the other be flat. Make sure the system battery is an AGM type.
■ Water ingress: A blocked windscreen scuttle can cause water to penetrate the fuse box seal. It will also soak the keyless entry system control unit in the footwell, locking you out of the car.
■ Interior: Check that everything works and on dark coloured cars, which absorb heat, that the headlining isn’t sagging.
Also worth knowing
To keep your Spur sweet, you’ll need a dedicated spares supplier such as Flying Spares, a key source of original, aftermarket, reconditioned and recycled parts (flyingspares.com).
How much to spend
£17,000-£19,999: Spurs up to 2006-reg and 120k miles. Includes a 2006 car with 99k miles and full Bentley service history for £19k.
£20,000-£23,999: Lower-mileage Spurs, such as a 2006 Mulliner-spec car with 70k miles and full main dealer history for £21,995.
£24,000-£29,999: Low-mileage (circa 35k) 2007 and 2008 Spurs with solid histories.
£30,000-£43,000: Facelifted cars with decent mileages, including a rare 2011 Spur Speed with 57k miles and full service history for £39,995.
One we found
Bentley Continental Flying Spur, 2006/06, 74k miles, £21,995: Full main dealer service history and proper mileage are the standout features of this car; those and its royal blue finish with cream leather interior with walnut inlays. Luxury motoring for the price of a Ford Focus.
Source: Autocar Online