Another automotive birthday this year: The Bentley Continental GT is getting a cake for being 20 years in production. The superluxe GT segment was neither new nor unpopulated when a Cypress Green Continental GT with VIN 20001 came off the production line in Crewe, England, in December 2003. It’s just that nothing else combined as much speed, handling, and all-out luxury as the Bentley. That coupe also introduced the world to a 6.0-liter W12 engine making 550 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque back when the four-seat Ferrari 456M was getting 442 hp and 406 lb-ft. from its V12 and the two-seat Ferrari 575M was making “just” 508 hp and 434 lb-ft. from the same engine. With the 20th anniversary being celebrated with China dishware, it’s fitting that Bentley used Auto Shanghai to introduce a one-off celebration in the form of a Continental GT S.
This one comes in Magnetic Dark Grey Metallic over 22-inch black chrome and black wheels. Red accent lines embellish the mirror caps and form a hem around the base of the coupe. Inside, specialty division Mulliner’s made a unique arrangement of Beluga (black) and Hotspur (red) leather against piano black trim. The bi-finish fascia puts Granite Stone above Grand Black veneer, separated by red pinstriping. Special badging and laser etching appears in places like the treadplates, center console, and veneers.
The carmaker plans events in the Western hemisphere at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July, a global relay of Continental GTs crossing three continents to pass a custom Bentley baton. There will also be drive hubs at the HQ in Crewe and in Geneva, Switzerland where invited guests can drive all three Continental generations, the first- and second-generation examples coming from the Bentley Heritage Collection. The culmination comes in another one-off Continental GT inspired by the first unit produced that will debut during Monterey Car Week.