1989 Bentley Turbo R sedan

“The quintessential power trip.”

Bentley’s Turbo R sedan debuted in 1985 but didn’t make it to the US until the 1989 model year. The Turbo R followed the Mulsanne Turbo, which had debuted in 1982 and marked the first genuinely sporting Bentley in decades. Bentley stated that the R stood for “roadholding,” and the Turbo R had a completely revised suspension, with different dampers and stiffer anti-roll bars.

1989 Bentley Turbo R advertisement

The Turbo R’s 6.75 liter/412 ci V8 had an estimated 335 bhp—for decades, Bentley didn’t state actual horsepower. The big V8 featured Bosch MK-Motronic fuel injection, a Garrett AiResearch turbocharger, and an intercooler. The transmission was GM’s Turbo Hydramatic THM-400. Considering that the Turbo R had a curb weight of 5,313 pounds, the 0-60 time of a little under 7 seconds was notable. Fuel economy was less impressive: a 9 city/12 highway rating by the standards of the day meant that the Turbo R was a recipient of the dreaded gas guzzler tax. Despite a sizeable 28.6-gallon gas tank filled with premium gasoline, the proud new owner of Turbo R could only expect a range of about 270 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.

Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $165,000 Turbo R (about $381,500 in today’s dollars) included power rack and pinion steering, four-wheel anti-lock disc brakes, and 255/65VR15 tires (a size still available thanks to Avon) on 15-inch aluminum-alloy wheels. The traditional Connolly leather seats, burled walnut veneer dash, and lambswool carpeting seen in many Bentleys were present inside. More prosaic standard equipment included air conditioning, cruise control, power seats, power mirrors, and power windows. Bentley built 929 Turbo Rs for the 1989 model year, making it an unqualified success.

The View From 2021

Like all Bentleys, the Turbo R attracts collector interest and substantial club support. Perhaps driven by maintenance costs that are substantial if the car has not been rigorously maintained, values are not as high as one might think. According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1989 Turbo R in #1/Concours condition is $26,000, with a far more normal #3/Good condition version going for $13,500.

Turbo R’s are often available in the Hemmings Motor News classifieds, and they sometimes show up at auction. As I write this post, a White 1989 Turbo R with red leather front bucket seats and a salvage title is for sale on Hemmings for $12,750.

After over eight years, this post is the first on a Bentley in Eighties Cars. There will be others—I definitely expect to get to the aforementioned Mulsanne Turbo at some point.

Make mine British Racing Green, please.

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