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Waterlogged: 1989 Bentley Turbo R


Flood vehicles always intrigue me. Did they barely spend any time in the water, perhaps just getting soaked up to their hubcaps – but their age and expensive upkeep lead to adjusers totalling the car out, even if it was easily fixable? I can only figure that cars like this 1989 Bentley Turbo R here on eBay are always vulnerable to getting totaled for the smallest thing once they reach a certain age, so this listing leaves far more questions than answers. 


The seller claims the vehicle is completely restorable and repairable, but curiously, they have already removed the engine and the transmission. This makes restoration considerably more difficult, no? There’s also a mention of bodywork being performed, so it’s possible this Bentley got knocked around when the flood waters rose (which would indicate a potentially significant storm). With over 80,000 miles on the clock, this was not a garage queen Turbo R.


Frankly, for a car with flood damage, the seller does a poor job of giving us any insights into how bad the interior got soaked considering this is the lone picture of the insides. Bentley’s are known for plush carpets, high-grade leather and acres of wood trim. All of that is susceptible to warping, mold and mildew if not treated correctly. From here it at least appears the piping hasn’t shrunk and kinked up.


The rear spoiler is an odd sight on a stately Bentley, so perhaps this example had already fallen down the slippery slope of lower-income owners who loved the idea of owning a Bentley but didn’t have the means to keep up with the significant maintenance requirements. The car’s location in what looks to be a vacant lot does nothing to help matters, but with no reserve and a starting bid of $1,000, is this old-world luxury project worth taking on?


  1. jim s

    there are some nice bentleys on ebay that are ready to go for a lot less then what it would cost to get this one back on the road. even if it is fixed the car will always be a non matching numbers flood car. interesting find.

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  2. Van

    I hate the fact that copart cleans flood cars so well you can’t tell how deep
    A car with computers often need only an inch of water on the floor.
    Salt water is much worse than fresh water.
    You would think it should be a legal requirement to inform any buyer of these issues.
    I would think cars built before the days of electronics and computers could be submerged on a fresh water boat ramp up to the dash and only need cleaning and flushing of the fuel tank, trans, and rear axle.
    Salt water or electronics would be a total.
    Some flood cars on copart are said to run, and many of those go to the middle east if exotic, or to our Hispanic neighbors to the south.
    Anyone ever tried putting one of these in the desert southwest to dry?
    It’s hard to pass on some cars copart says run.

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    • JamestownMike

      Just an FYI, Copart doesn’t clean flood cars!

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      • Van

        Yes your correct, but someone has to take responsibility, an auction house sells what you bring. They are legally required to take responsibility for selling a fraudulent consignment.
        These cars don’t fit the definition of fraud, and nobody went to jail for the economic crash in 2006.
        Today there is no such thing as right and wrong, it’s just what will send me to jail.

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      • Dave W

        Copart offers an “enhanced” classification for some cars as an option. It MAY involve cleaning and other cosmetic enhancements to improve the appearance.

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      • MikeG

        The exotic flood cars on Copart are usually always seen with vacuum marks in the carpet.

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  3. Dave Wright

    No engine or trans……….makes little difference how flooded it was…..parts car

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  4. Mr. TKD

    Nope. No. Nada. Nay. Nicht. Nein. Nix. Negative. Nuh-uh. Naw.

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  5. Dairymen

    $0.10/lbs, and I’m being generous cause not everything is metal.

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    • JamestownMike

      .10 a pound!?!…….scrap metal is REALLY low right now. In fact, my local scrap metal buyer is only paying .03 a pound right now

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  6. Ollie Stiles

    At least to fix the 10K to fix the brake system. Add another 5K to fix the suspension and you’re already over what a driver is worth. Scrap.

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  7. maserati


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  8. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    We had an virtually new XC70 brought in from the past east coast hurricane disaster. Bought cheap, maybe $10k & owner wanted to roll dice…$9k later it ran & not all its electronics worked as should. There is no way I would ever want to assume responsibility for a flood repair.

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  9. Wayne

    Here in NSW Australia, all cars that have written off as flood damaged, must be declared at sale.

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    • JamestownMike

      Here in the USA, all cars that have been written off as a total loss due to flood, must be branded as flood and declared at sale.

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  10. scott

    I don’t usually say SBC restomod, but it seems realistic on this one. $6500 is ludicrous for this mystery machine.

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    • grant

      I am usually against that as well, but this seems the perfect case for it. I’d go big block though. And the cars not worth more than 2500 as it sits.

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  11. Neil

    Used to have a 1990 Turbo R. Lovely comfortable car but my god was it labour intensive!! Every time I went out in it something would go secondary mammaries up.
    The electrics were a nightmare – the panel lights dimmer had to be by passed in order to make the display visible in sunshine, you had to have the proper castrol bottles with the flexi spouts to be able to top up – very frequently – the LHM fluid that the brakes and suspension used (same system as the Citroen CS and XM – you can use Citroen parts at a fraction the cost of the Bentley ones.) Even if just flooded to floor level this is going to take a LOT of money to fix, not including sourcing an engine and gearbox. That rear spoiler needs to go and a body expert needs to look over the wheel arches carefully for hidden rot forming.
    It would be a nice project for someone with a lot of money and a love of Bentleys – definitely NOT a project for the faint hearted.

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  12. pat k

    love the description by the seller; “completely repairable / rebuildable”. everything is if you spend enough…..

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  13. OA5599

    Abandon ship.

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  14. Puhnto

    If the seats weren’t floode, they’d be worth a couple of dollars.

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    Get a case of permaseal and make it into a boat. Throw a marine motor in it and propeller and there you have a BentlyBoat!

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  16. Adam Wright

    Chevy 350 is calling this one’s name.

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      I was thinking LS series….

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    • Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

      Very difficult to install a non original type motor, just dealing with the 2,500 psi mineral oil pumps (2) driven off the camshaft (powers the brakes & suspension) will be a nitemare.
      In the late ’80s I rescued a beautiful Rolls-Royce Silver Spur “Centennial” (1 of 25 built worldwide) that had been in the Potomac river. The key in all flood vehicles is stopping corrosion & bio rot FAST. We sprayed the entire car inside & out with a 3% bleach solution as it was loaded onto the rollback truck, then placed it in our heated paint booth for several days to dry out. Pulled entire interior out & disassembled seats, cleaned it all, soaked leather in hide restorer.
      Nice thing about these cars is the use of stainless fasteners whenever possible! Did have to replace the Bosch computer, had h2o in the sealed unit!
      The local CBS tv station was there to record us pulling the Rolls out, and again after I finished the job 2 years later (I bought the car from the owner cheap, took my time to do the job right.)
      Also did the same to a 1969 Volvo 1800 coupe from the same flood, watched the owner drive it out of my shop 6 months after the flood!
      And YES, this Bentley will probably end up in Tony Handler’s Rolls-Royce salvage yard in Cal.

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  17. Van

    How about making a gasser
    What’s the biggest v8 available?

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  18. Steve K.

    Doesn’t everybody have a spoiler on their Bentley?

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    • Jason tea

      Needs a few other accoutrements: Stutz Blackhawk grill in gold plate, side pipes, dual side mounts and spare in trunk lid, leopard skin vinyl roof with landau bars…..and if course, fur seating. (Blast, those Brits have no taste!)

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  19. John

    Gentlemen, it clearly states TURBO on the listing. It already has the spoiler so clearly it needs a WRX motor😏. Personally I think it needs a 500 caddy motor

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  20. Brakeservo

    Flood water, even “fresh water” carries a great deal of silt. It gets in everything from the wheel bearings on up so simply draining all the oils and refilling won’t save the car. You might make a flood car drive-able, but only for a while until the silt and grit wear the car out hyper-quickly. That’s why, even before modern electronics and computers, insurance companies totalled cars with water damage that ‘didn’t look so bad . . . ‘ I suspect the only stuff on this car that’s really salvageable is the sheet metal . . . and there’s virtually no market for that as the one’s that are running and driving are worth so little that it takes just a bit more than a windshield claim to total one so collision damage isn’t cost effective to repair. Throw a SBC in it and take it to the Fourth of July Demolition Derby just for the fun of it!!

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  21. Jay

    Well, as someone who purchased a flood damaged vehicle in the past and lived to regret it…I would STRONGLY recommend that the purchaser consider it a body parts donor only.
    It’s simply unbelievable what water and sand will do to a car. You will never, ever stop replacing things that you have never thought would ever need to be changed.
    Just walk away…

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    • Alan (Michigan)

      My wife and I were car-shopping between Christmas and New Year’s day. One of the cars that we both liked was a 2014 with only 5 thousand miles.
      But when we noted that the fiberboard cover for the spare was warped, and the jack had rust on it, and there was moisture behind the rear seat, and I found sand residue in the pocket on the back of the driver’s seat… We walked (quickly) away.
      And, it was a “Certified” used car. Nope. NO WAY

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  22. Alan (Michigan)

    After Sandy pounded the Eastern USA, there were fields and major parking lots filled with flood cars that had been insurance settled. The aerial photos of thousands of cars all packed like sardines was an amazing sight to see.
    Among them were of course some cars that many here on BF might deem worth the time, expense, and tears required to bring them back to life. One in particular was a ’67 Big Block Vette convertible. I have no idea if it was crushed, or sold for restoration. But something like that would be worth taking all the way apart if bought for the proper price.
    This car? Nope.

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  23. Alan (Michigan)

    An airport, filled with cars from Sandy

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  24. Martin

    All I can hear is the Monty Python crew yelling “Run away!!! Run Away!!!”

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  25. Metalted

    Flood car, will never be right!
    All I own are repairable from insurance auctions. And my cars and truck with just crash damage , have weird issues .
    No way a flood car should be repaired.
    Crush it.

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  26. AMCFAN

    I bought a flood vehicle once……my own. It was a flash flood. Car was parked through no fault of its own. The water came up and went down as fast. Damage done. Being a car guy and finding your car with water line past the dash is heart breaking enough. Doesn’t matter if it is a collector car or not. It happened to be my driver BTW. I liked it and took very good care of it. The oil after 8 weeks still looked new.

    Having the insurance hand you a check is no consolation. Seeing in the back of your mind a rollback taking your car heading off for a salvage auction. Then ending up in a salvage yard? I couldn’t stand the thought. Typical car guy mentality….or was to me.

    I was amazed to buy it back for pennies on the dollar. Why not? I knew the car. It was a fresh water flood. That’s good right. Well kind of. As Brakeservo says it is (and was) full of silt and it was everywhere. Also all bare metal will start rusting at once. Will need to be coated.

    The car had to sit a week with standing water. Only after the insurance adjuster looked at it could I do anything. I drained the fluids and pulled the plugs to pump water out of the cylinders. Yes. When pulling the dip stick after it happened water flowed out like a water fountain. After that hen gutted the interior. I power washed for several days. Thinking I had it good enough. I let time take over and dry it out. I pulled every electrical connection and broke it. Cleaned it and put die electric grease on the contact pins. I with the drain plug off I poured a mixture of kerosene and Marvel Mystery through it.

    I removed the ECM and opened it up and made sure it was dry. The car started right up! I changed oil 6 times before I felt confident I had it all. My car was a manual and no water in the trans. Within six months of driving. I replaced the calipers. Starter Alternator A/C pump. Blower motor. Then for a long period was like any other normal wear items. It was fine. I put over 130K miles on it. Then got ran into. It was time to let go.

    Problems that do occur you will always be asking yourself. Is this caused by 100K (or what ever it may be) miles or caused the flood? The first real issue was the fuel door cable freezing in the first winter as would the E brake. Both left me stranded.

    Would I do it again? Yes. Would I buy flood vehicle from someone or at an auction? Never! Each vehicle is different and will have its own host of problems. It was a good learning experience however once was enough for me.

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  27. Birdman

    On this episode of Roadkill, we’re going to drop a blown big-block into and make a 9 second drag car out of…(swings around and points at the car)…THAT!! Look out Draguar!


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  28. brakeservo

    Many years ago in Oregon, a local politician had an about 1962 Bentley with it’s original V8 and Hydramatic transmission. As many of the early V8 Bentleys do, his blew up beyond economic salvation and rather than source another Bentley motor his mechanic built a hot-rodded Chevy 502 Big Block and with the proper scrounging found the right parts to bolt it to the Hydramatic. That way, virtually nothing else was changed on the Bentley, it even looked almost original under the hood but when he stepped on it – he’d leave twin black streaks on the asphalt for as long a distance as he chose!

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  29. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    I’ve heard over the years that Canadian Pontiacs were available equipped with Hydramatics and Chevy V8 engines. So it may well be possible to create a circa 1965 & before Bentley, with off the shelf GM parts. Considering the high costs of engine overhauls for these cars, on a marginal “driver”, it may be a viable alternative!

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  30. brakeservo

    The guy who mated the Chev big-block to the original Hydramatic said the parts he needed were used on 1950s era GMC pickups with Hydramatics. While I”d never hot rod a classic six-cylinder Bentley or Rolls, I think this is a great solution for an SII or Silver Cloud II with a troublesome early V8. By the time the S3 and Cloud III’s came out, most of the inherent problems of the V8 were fixed so those tend to be reliable motors . . . unless the cooling system was ignored for years leading to decades of electrolytic corrosion of the block etc, leaving you again with a prime Chevy conversion candidate.

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  31. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    The key to saving a flood car is to start cleaning & dismantling it fully within hours of removing it from the water

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  32. Dave Wright

    I have raised and refit many many boats as well as a few vehicles. The mechanicals are seldom a problem even when submerged for extended periods of time. We even commonly save power tools like drills and saws. The trouble is anything electronic. We have learned to simply through them away. With all the electronics in modern vehicles, I would think any vehicle with flooding much over the door sills would need complete new wiring harnesses and any control switches at a minimum. That being said, a simple vehicle like many classics should be little problem and I am sure that the insurance companies total cars in a large flood event that have little or no problems. We still drive vehicles through a couple of feet or more of water crossing streams and the like here at the ranch, I rember dropping my 1993 Chev 6.5 diesel flatbed into a hole that brought green water to the hood while looking at a loggers tug boat one time in Coos Bay, the problem was I had to go back through it to get out. Just keep going…….nothing else to do. We tried out the fording kit on one of my Jeep M715’s. We crawled through at least 48″ of water with the snorkel and exhaust extension installed. We pulled a 70’s Chevrolet pickup out of a boat launching ramp one time. The guy had been nervous and thought he was in drive and was in reverse instead. We had the truck running for him in a couple of hours. So……if we define a “flood” car as one that has been really under water and the vehicle is modern with all the common electronics or even a very plush interior…….it would be pretty tough but an early simple vehicle or one that had water up to the running boards, maby not so much. I pulled a Mini Cooper out of an old erosion control bank on a river in Utah and completely restored it. But again, simple, non electronic.

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  33. rob

    “Don’t buy work” if you remember that yo will have a happy existence. They want $6500 for a flood damaged car. No one will pay more than $2500 if they need spares .

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  34. Dave Wright


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  35. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    Very good price, last time I had a used Bentley grill shell I sold it for twice that amount.

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    • Dave Wright

      My thoughts exactly…….good price for a parts car.

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  36. Ed Willaims

    It’s so sad to see such a nice car ruined!

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