In 1984 Bentley launched a “cut-price” car. At more than £50,000 it still cost
as much as a small house but came with cloth upholstery and steel wheels. As
a result, the Eight, as the poverty model was known, is one of the best ways
to experience the Bentley mystique without breaking the bank.
The Eight was easily distinguished from more expensive versions by its chrome
mesh grille, evoking the marque’s sporting heritage. Under the skin,
however, it had the same 6.75 litre V8 and three-speed automatic gearbox.
The cars were very similar inside, but even if the centre console was
shorter than on the Mulsanne and Turbo models the view down the majestic
bonnet was the same.
Main dealers or specialists are the best bets when buying a used Bentley but
some knowledge of what to look for will help you to find the right car.
The Eight was improved steadily during its life. In 1986 it gained fuel
injection and anti-lock brakes, and these cars feel more modern, with
increased power and a better ignition system than the carburettor models. In
1987 leather upholstery and electric memory seats became part of the package
and 1990 saw automatic ride height become standard and catalytic converters
an option. In August 1992 Bentley replaced the three-speed automatic gearbox
with a four-speeder, and introduced a high-level brake light. The car was
finally discontinued in January 1993.
Aluminium was used extensively but the bodywork can still suffer from
corrosion. Trouble spots are the rear edge of the front wheelarch and the
front edge of the rear wheelarch. Take a close look at the lead filler at
the bottom of the front and rear screens, it can also cause problems.
Bentleys are targets for clocking, too, though the speedometer is rarely wound
back, it’s usually replaced instead. Bentley is aware of the problem and
marks the glass on all replacements. Check for two tiny white spots near the
trip reset button — these signify a non-original unit.
Examine the brake fluid reservoir, it should be sealed with a metal tie and
lead seal. If they are missing then the system has been topped up between
services, indicating that brake pipes and seals need replacing.
A Bentley will sit low at the back if it has been stationary for some time.
However, it should rise and settle level once moved. If it doesn’t then be
prepared to fork out to put the suspension right. Prolonged time standing
can also deform the tyres, so check for vibration through the steering wheel
Worn leather seats can be reupholstered for about £350. The V8 engine should
be bulletproof and, although rare, any noises or smoke mean you could be
facing a complete rebuild, which will cost megabucks.
Maintaining your car should be easy. There are a number of Rolls-Royce and
Bentley specialists that can service your pride and joy at a fraction of
main dealer prices.
Insurance is available through specialist insurers and limited mileage
policies cost a few hundred pounds, but be sure to agree your car’s worth to
avoid tears later.
Bentley values are highly sensitive to bodywork and cabin trim colour
combinations. It is best to avoid white, black or red cars, the most
desirable colours being dark green and royal blue. Light leather interiors
with contrasting piping will complete the sense of luxury.
Early Bentley Eights can be picked up for as little as £10,000 but expect to
pay closer to £14,000 for a 1990 model with full service history.
Engine type 6.75 litre, V8 Transmission Three-speed Max power 221bhp at 4200rpm Acceleration 0 to 62mph: 12.2sec Top speed 126mph Fuel 12.0mpg (urban)
Watch out for
Interior Light leather with contrasting piping is the most
highly sought after trim combination Wheels Alloys became standard equipment after 1988 Suspension Ride and handling is sportier than equivalent
Rolls-Royce Shift work Automatic transmission has a column-mounted
selector Peace of mind Always have HPI check a car before you buy to
assure you of its provenance Bodywork Wheelarches are corrosion weak spots Under the bonnet Brake fluid reservoir should have an intact
metal wire seal Making a marque Bentley's famous radiator-top Flying B badge
was an option Headlamps Early cars had rectangular lights, replaced by more
attractive round ones after 1988 Expert advice Get an independent engineer to inspect a
prospective purchase The one to buy 1990 G with fuel injection and automatic ride
height control. Balmoral green with parchment hide piped with green. 70,000
miles with a full service history. £14,000 at a non-franchised Bentley
specialist or £11,750 privately
Values Bentley Eight
1986 C Trade £6,250. Retail £9,575 1990 G Trade £11,250. Retail £14,595 1992 J Trade £15,450. Retail £18,795
1986 C Trade £5,800. Retail £9,125 1990 G Trade £10,450. Retail £13,795 1992 J Trade £14,200. Retail £17,550
1986 C Trade £5,100. Retail £8,425 1990 G Trade £9,200. Retail £12,550 1992 J Trade £12,350. Retail £15,695
Source: estimates based on confidential CAP Black Book prices. 'Trade' is
what a dealer would pay to buy your car