Cheap Luxury Liner: 1991 Bentley Turbo R

When it comes to looking like you’re worth a million bucks, Bentleys of almost any generation can impress most passers-by – even if you only paid $11,000 for the one you’re driving. This example still looks incredibly stately, but sitting in what looks like an apartment complex parking lot is doing it no favors. Seeing as it’s parked next to an equally tired Subaru SVX, it would seem the owner has a taste for the obscure, but he claims he’s got too many irons in the fire to give this Turbo R the love it deserves. Find it here on craigslist in West Chester, Pennsylvania.

The Turbo R is the one to get, in my opinion, if you desire a Bentley from the 80s or early 90s. They actually packed a respectable punch despite that era of performance vehicles suffering from a hangover of the malaise from the early part of the decade. The Turbo R also received some other enhancements in the chassis area that made the handling better than decent, all the while preserving the sleepy, stodgy image like only a Bentley could deliver. That being said, they are maintenance-intense vehicles, and the fact that this one has been sitting long enough to require a jump start is worrisome.

One of the classic pet peeves of a website like this is sellers who can’t even be bothered to vacuum out the interior for pictures, or just shake out the carpets. The seller claims the Turbo R is still a pleasure to drive, but it doesn’t have the appearance of a car that’s been loved. That said, the acres of wood trim and leather that came standard still look to be in decent shape, and if it’s been sitting outdoors, the sun hasn’t entirely destroyed the interior as of yet. The seller notes that inside some issues have crept up, including the power windows not working like they should and the trim along the windshield failing, which can lead to water ingress.

The seller notes he is selling the Bentley cheaply now in lieu of doing any maintenance work, but will take in for a tune-up (and presumably re-list for a higher price) if no one bites at his current ask. The back seats similarly don’t show the seam splitting at the top of the bench that is typical for cars left to bake in the sun, so perhaps the Bentley has only been recently ushered outdoors to keep the SVX company. The listing calls it an “…excellent daily driver,” but it seems like some work will be required before it achieves those levels of reliability. Still, I’m guessing you can negotiate for a better offer, and have a worthwhile project on your hands.

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  1. alphasud Member

    If cash was LM fluid you would have a hazmat crew follow you to pick up the barrels of oil leaking out of your wallet if you bought that wreck! These cars take an enormous amount of cash to keep maintained. Buying one that has not is insane.

  2. Luke Fitzgerald

    Hand grenade – OK, maybe it mightn’t detonate – but don’t expect everything to work or keep working (or stay on – or off)

    • Weasel

      I was thinking “hot potato”. Same sentiment.

      Not a sustainer

  3. Smokey

    NO. NO. NO. NO. and NO !!!!!!!! R U N don’t walk in the opposite direction from this auto! You will certainly spend MORE than the low purchase price in maintenance and repair from the first day you have it, just to get it running. Years ago I assisted a local friend in purchasing a new 1990 Rolls Royce, very strongly against my advice even then. The Rolls being essentially the same car as this Bentley. HIs first complete tune-up virtually insisted upon by the local Rolls dealer at about 22,000 miles cost him $7500. Then, one problem after another from then on. The Rolls comes with three quarts of hydraulic fluid neatly packed in the boot (trunk). It’s realized that you might need it. At just over 30,000 mies he away to a charity in Los Angeles 230 miles from here for them to auction for charity. He tried giving it to a local charity here in town but because of his high local profile and the car’s known history, none would take it. I drove it often and its roadability was terrible. It handled like a motorized sponge rubber pillow.

  4. Poppapork

    I’m going to go against the grain and say that this car HAD to be maintained somewhat well as it has 150k miles if not more on the odo.
    Thats a lot even for a non turboR Bentley

    Of course I’m not going to convince you that this is a good deal I simply don’t like these, rather get a TVR…

  5. CCFisher

    The only cheap Bentley I know of is a drag queen who goes by the name of Ineeda Bentley.

  6. H5mind

    I live in an upscale part of London where Rolls and Bentleys are as thick as fleas in a Mexican dive. I rarely see the old Bentleys, for a reason. Unless you’re an auto technician by trade (better yet, an aircraft mechanic) these are an excellent way to turn a large fortune into a small one.

    • Poppapork

      What is this having in common with airplanes? How would being an airplane mechanic (instead of a car mechanic) help with this car?
      Educate me cause im not seeing it. Beyond being a mode of transportation i dont think bentleys and Boeings have much in commo

    • Ed

      “fleas in a Mexican dive” – really? that is the analogy you’re going to use? What about “dentists at a UK convention” … wait, that would be the opposite…

  7. Mazoomda

    Well, as an aircraft mechanic, and a car nut, I can speak to this. The amount of technical data required to keep an aircraft flying is quite a huge step above most cars. One aspect you may not think about is that an aircraft cannot deviate from the technical way it is built. The way it was put together back when it was made it exactly how it is put together today. Any significant deviation is not encouraged or approved. I can imagine an old Bentley is the same, and if it was changed down the line by a past owner, the next guy has to figure out the Bentley way and perhaps the way it’s been changed, and fix conflicts because of that change.

    Is it difficult to work on aircraft? Absolutely. The jet I’m working on now has taken more than 3 months of time with at least three, up to six mechanics and avionics professionals a day to get back in the air, and it’s not done yet, but might be ready for an in flight ops check next week if all the systems cooperate. And this jet flew in with few gripes, but a long list of checks that must be performed and many small issues we found, it adds up! No pulling over to the side of the road and calling AAA in an aircraft.

    Gotta a dead Bentley at the side of the road, call AAA for sure, but where are you gonna tow it, the local yokel garage…. and expect them to fix it? Haha. It better be right when you pull out for a drive or your gambling with greenbacks same as in Vegas. Cheers.

    • Poppapork

      I apretiate your lengthy answer. I understand now what the analogy meant!

  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Lovely looking car. I’ve always loved the late 1980s-early 90s Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars.

  9. luke arnott Member

    A late friend had one of these.He decided to rebuild the brakes and needed some O Rings.He approached Bentley who refused to supply them,saying instead they would quote for the work,the cost of which I forget.He sourced them from a Builders Merchants instead for pennies.

  10. Doc

    I love the look of this era Bentley more than any other. But, if I were to go this route, I think I’d be forced to swap the power plant for something cheaper and easier to maintain. I know that’s heresy to the purist, but the car simply isn’t worth enough to justify the maintenance costs.

    • Poppapork

      This car had either a TH400. Or a 4L80e so a swap to anything from a 496big block to junkyard special 6.0 vortec/LS engine

    • Bryan Cohn

      The engine itself is the least of the problems on these cars. Mechanically they are tough and very bulletproof. Its all the crap bolted on the outside that is problematic but at the same time not rocket science. It’ll need things like new vacuum hoses, fresh or cleaned injectors, a basic tune up and with fresh fuel should run fine. Its the brakes, the hydraulic suspension, the window regulators and other electrical bits that can lead you to ruin.

  11. Husky

    I think H5Mind mix up Bentley with Bristol or Saab.

    However, what about an engine swap, 392 Hellcat engine and eight speed automatic transmission??

    • Poppapork

      This has a GM transmission so might be easier to go LS or a modernized 8.1L stroker bigblock?

  12. CJinSD

    A bargain at one tenth the price!

    • Poppapork

      Come again? More like 1/40th of the original car price.
      This car in 1991 had a sticker of $195,000 ! thats in 1991 dollars,
      Adjusted for inflation (+88% for the last 29 years) it would cost
      $366,000 dollars!

      • Bob Mck Member

        The original price means nothing. These cost a fortune to maintain and more to bring back after not being maintained. There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Bentley or Rolls Royce.

      • Poppapork

        Bob i already adressed this, it had to be maintained to collect 150k miles in the current state.

  13. FastEddie/OldEddie: pick one

    Is that the right hand door seal, hanging down, in the CL door pic? He must be REALLY tired of that car.

  14. Bob Mck Member

    Maybe it was maintained at one time, but I bet it has not been maintained for a while. Look where it is parked.. Look at the carpets. This owner probably does not maintain it.

    • Poppapork

      It hasn’t moved in a year per the seller (he might be disonest and it might have been 3years! Who knows).
      However if you ever shopped for a bentley or a R/R there are a lot more thrashed examples for sale. and i mean A LOT WORSE.
      This is sorta middle ground, not a pristine low mile example but not a back alley derelict with no floors

  15. Mitchell Member

    Where’s Tyler Hoover of Hoovie’s Garage to buy this?

  16. Marauder

    Always buy the best example you can find. There are many owners who pamper their Rolls Royces and Bentleys. When properly maintained they are wonderful cars to own, and quite reliable. I owned a ‘79 Silver Shadow that I bought from the original owner in West Hollywood. I owned it for seven joyful years with no problems.


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