Jeremy Clarkson - Bentley Continental GTC

Discussion in 'OT Driven' started by TriShield, Mar 29, 2007.

  1. TriShield

    TriShield Super Moderator® Super Moderator

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    I saved a little girl’s life in this

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    Jeremy Clarkson

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    Last year in Britain, slightly more than 5m people died. Over the course of my lifetime 250m people have died. And yet it was only last week that I saw my first dead body.

    It was lying at the side of a country road near Johannesburg, one of the most dangerous and lawless cities on earth, so initially I thought it had been shot. But then, a few hundred feet down the road, I passed a big Suzuki motorbike, all battered and broken, and just as dead as its owner.

    Of course there was no way of knowing the man was dead. He was surrounded by a thousand emergency vehicles and several million paramedics. But there was something about the way they moved, a lack of urgency, that gave the game away.

    And it was all confirmed two hours later when I drove back down the same stretch of road. Because the big broken bike had gone. The ambulances and police cars had gone. And all bar one of the personnel had gone. But weirdly the body was still there.

    I haven’t been able to get the image out of my head since. Who was he? What had he said to his wife that morning as he’d put on his leathers and gone outside to get on his big bike? What was he planning to do later that day? Or at work the following week? Had he planned a holiday this year? What would his kids do now, without a dad?

    One minute he’s a human being thundering down a lovely road in an area known, ironically, as the Cradle of Humankind. The next he’s meat, a nuisance, a handful of ticks and crosses in a police investigator’s report.

    Doubtless his wife will have spent the time since wailing and weeping and wondering why the bloody hell he’d gone and got himself a motorbike. And I’m with her. Why indeed?

    You get hit by lightning and it’s bad luck. You die in a car accident and it’s one of those things. You have to drive to get about and people die while driving. You have an accident at work and it’s the same story. You get shot by a robber and even then you can still see the logic: “If I steal your wallet and then kill you, I stand less chance of being caught.” But dying in a motorbike accident seems so completely futile.

    I know they’re a thrill. I know it gives you a buzz to hurtle down a country lane on a sunny day while encased entirely in leather. I know all that. But one tiny mistake, which might have nothing to do with you, and you’re a memory, you’re a smudge in the hedgerow. You’re playing a lottery where the prizes are small and the cost of failure is just gigantic. And I don’t get that.

    In Britain bikes account for just 1% of all road transport. Yet they account for nearly 20% of all fatalities. Of course, dead bikers do provide a valuable public service in that people with fatal diseases can have new eyes and fresh spleens, but having seen the accident in South Africa last week, I think we could go further. Instead of taking the body away, why not just leave it in place?

    All of us fear death, but when you actually see it, you become even more determined to give it a wide berth.

    After seeing a body for the first time I have genuinely slowed down a bit. Coming home from London the other night I pulled out to overtake when I was 98% certain the road ahead was clear. But then an image of that poor man’s twisted head popped into my head and I abandoned the manoeuvre before it had really begun.

    Yesterday, while driving into my local town, a mother was walking down the pavement with a little girl of three or four. Normally I’d have slowed and covered the brake in case the toddler leapt into the road, but after my South African experience, I damn nearly stopped.

    And I can’t tell you how that felt when, moments later, the little girl did indeed run into the road. That dead biker, then, 6,000 miles away in Johannesburg, had unwittingly saved the life of a little girl in England.

    You may think this all a bit too convenient. A bit too editorial. But it happened. I really was thinking of the dead man, and braking when the girl ran out. If I’d been doing 30 I’d have hit her. But I was doing 10, maybe less. So I didn’t.

    Anyway, onwards and upwards to the car I was driving that day. The Bentley Continental GTC, which of course is a drop-top version of a car I don’t like very much.

    The problem is simple. I know that beneath that two-door body and those chromed organ-stop ventilation controls the Continental is a Volkswagen Phaeton. And even though the two cars feel markedly different, I can never really get that thought out of my head.


    It’s the same story with my Bang & Olufsen phone. Electronically it’s a Samsung, but I paid a billion pounds for all that style and design, and I’m sorry, every time I use it I feel a bit of a berk.

    But the drop-top Continental is different. Because there’s no roof the wind blows away any sense that you’re in a Phaeton. It really does feel completely different, and then there’s the noise. My God. What a wonderful sound. It’s a sort of mellow bellow. I’ve never heard it in the coupé before, but in the soft top it’s there all the time, sticking its tentacles into your ears and giving you a nice warm rinse.

    Do not, however, imagine that this is some kind of sports car. It isn’t. Bentley, as Ettore Bugatti once observed, makes very fast lorries. The Continental GTC has more in common with a Scania than a Ferrari, and that holds true even when you push the sport button. This just makes everything less comfortable, so I quickly turned it off again.

    You waft in this car.
    Oh, it’ll waft pretty quickly, thanks to that sonorous twin-turbo W12, but there’s no satisfaction from taking a nice little left-right switchback and hitting the apexes just right. In fact you feel a bit silly.

    Better to kick back and cruise. Select the precise sort of sound you want from the hi-fi, snuggle into the infinitely adjustable seat . . . and relax. It is a very, very nice way of covering miles.

    Like falling asleep in the bath and waking up somewhere else.


    That said, there are a few issues that drove me mad. The boot opens and closes electrically. And extremely slowly. And if it touches the top of your suitcase on its way down, and it will because there’s the tonneau cover in there as well, it’ll crawl back up to the top again. People have arms, Bentley. And we don’t mind using them.

    Likewise, if you want to let someone in the back, the front seats slide forward as though they’re being pulled along by a koala. And while it may have seemed like a good idea when the computer geek said the radio could present drivers with a choice of all the stations in range, it wasn’t. Because the other morning it took 20 minutes to find Radio 2.

    The worst thing about this car, though, is hard to put my finger on. Maybe it’s the lack of sportiness. Maybe it’s the size. Maybe it’s the footballer ostentation or the pale blue paintwork that had been teamed with a cream leather interior.

    I don’t know. But I do know this. All the time I was behind the wheel I was slightly terrified other road users might think it was mine.

    Rating 3/5

    Verdict Sit back and enjoy the waft


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  2. ady

    ady New Member

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  3. RobsMob

    RobsMob Guest

    That guy is a wordsmith. :bowdown:
     
  4. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    What a useless review...
     
  5. ///M

    ///M New Member

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  6. Dexter

    Dexter .

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  7. Dexter

    Dexter .

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    the car, not clarkson
     
  8. Read more...

    Read more... SPQR

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    Maybe there isn't much to say about a Bentley Continental GTC...
     
  9. Short Bus

    Short Bus Beep beep!

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    I guess not.
     
  10. Quagmire

    Quagmire New Member

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  11. 12xalt

    12xalt petrolsexual

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    he's such an odd man

    but I still love the things he has to say





    oh, and a side note on the motorcycle thing, I met a state forensics guy almost 2 years ago (he was the one called out on the Lovell/Freeman rally deaths) and his main job here in OR is motorcycle accidents, and yet he still rides one himself
     
  12. Nacho

    Nacho Fancy words here.

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    You're so mad at clarkson. :rofl:
     
  13. SirLumina

    SirLumina New Member

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    Excellent story. He never really writes much about the car, just his subjective opinions about it but his reviews always seem to focus on some other story and then come back to the car he's reviewing where he spends 15% of the article writing about it. As far as getting info about the car, I don't like it, but I do respect his opinion on a lot of cars and find the articles to be entertaining.

    The Koala part was funny. :rofl:
     

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