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An Expensive Slice of Heaven

2004 Bentley Continental GT coupe

By Warren Brown
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 16, 2004; Page G01

People with the cash to buy the 2004 Bentley Continental GT coupe aren't concerned about petroleum prices. They own the wells.

Thus, it makes little sense to talk to them about buying "responsible cars," or to lecture them on "buying green."

Nuts & Bolts

Downside: The Bentley Continental GT inspires envy, lust and covetousness. Some people doubtless will regard you as shallow, self-centered and greedy.

Ride, acceleration and handling: Triple aces. It's superior in all three categories. Most of the 479 foot-pounds of torque is available immediately. This car moves out fast!

Head-turning quotient: Refer to "Downside" and then meditate on Reverend Ike's words: "The first person you need to make a favorable impression on is yourself."

Body style/layout: The Bentley Continental GT is a front-engine, all-wheel-drive, two-door coupe without center pillars. It has seating for four people.

Engine/transmission: The car's 6-liter, 48-valve, twin-turbocharged W-12 engine develops 552 horsepower at 6,100 revolutions per minute and 479 foot-pounds of torque at 1,600 rpm. The engine is linked to an electronically controlled six-speed automatic transmission that can also be operated manually via paddle shifters on either side of the steering wheel.

Cargo and fuel capacities: Cargo capacity is 13.1 cubic feet. The fuel tank holds 23.8 gallons of required premium unleaded gasoline.

Mileage: Barely 11 miles per gallon in city driving. It gets about 14 miles per gallon on the highway.

Safety: Super-rigid body construction for optimum handling; standard four-wheel-disc and anti-lock brakes; traction control; side and head air bags.

Price: Bentley plans to sell up to 4,000 Continental GT models annually. Pricing starts at $150,000. Estimated dealer invoice pricing on the base model is $140,000. But the bottom line is that this baby will be priced according to demand, and demand is high -- and higher still with options. Expect premium pricing at some sales locations.

Purse-strings note: Another great toy for the wealthy girl or boy. Is it worth it? Reverend Ike has a quote: "Everything is a condition of the mind." I've always said "Amen" to that, which is why I never sent the reverend any money for his ministry. His advice came free over the radio. I saw no need to send him a check. Thanks, Rev.

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They already have lots of green -- currency, stocks, bonds, bonuses and big salaries. They enjoy spending it. To them, paying $150,000 for a Continental GT that gets barely 14 miles per gallon on the highway is a bargain.

After all, they could spend $340,872 (including $80,000 in options and a $2,995 destination charge) for a fully loaded Bentley Arnage RL sedan. It burns a gallon of premium gasoline every 14 miles, too.

This is offensive to people of modest means and moderate temperament. It causes outrage among the morally self-righteous, especially those who equate poverty with virtue and wealth with sin.

But it tickles the heck out of me.

Blame it on religion, specifically on the Gospel of Green according to Reverend Ike, formally and officially known as the Rev. Dr. Frederick Eikerenkoetter.

I grew up listening to Reverend Ike's radio broadcasts in New Orleans, much to the consternation of my late, very Catholic parents, Daniel Thomas Brown Sr. and Lillian Gadison-Provost Brown.

My father, a Catholic convert, was particularly irate, sometimes snatching the little RCA transistor radio out of my hands whenever he heard me listening to the good reverend, whom Daddy regarded as both a fraud and an apostate. I fixed that problem by buying earphones and listening to Reverend Ike in the dark of my bedroom.

The man talked sense to me. "The first thing to do for the poor is not to become one of them," he would say. And I'd say "Amen" to that.

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