Well, like most of you, I’ve borrowed a fair few convertibles for testing, and I’ve also been lucky enough to have had a few Bentleys over the years.
by Steve Belasco
But I hadn’t had a Bentley Convertible before, so it seemed a good idea to organise one of the new V8s for the warm, sunny weather. The VERY bright yellow GTC V8 duly arrived one Friday morning… and it rained continually over the next three days.
No problem, the hood was as good as a hard top at keeping the elements and noise out.
But Monday dawned bright and sunny and saw my finger enthusiastically on the open hood button as soon as I was sitting comfortably in the Beluga driver’s seat.
Now I’ve always thought these cantilever hood systems, that look like gantries from the Forth Bridge, are scarily complex, but the hood started to swing smoothly and silently up… and then stopped halfway.
Resolutely it sat there while I sweated and cursed as I prodded the hood button over and over. And suddenly it carried on to the fully open position.
A minor glitch, I thought as I sped luxuriantly to work with the wind in my hair and sun on my pate.
Cruising smugly into the office car park it was clouding over and starting to look damp again so I casually stabbed the button to close the hood and… nothing. It was lifeless. And this time no amount of cursing and prodding would budge it.
I felt a drop of rain and looked around me at the beautiful leather, chrome and wood, all exposed to the skies.
With commendable speed, my visit to our company maintenance department secured a good, clean tarpaulin and some rope to secure it with.
Now mid-morning, it was raining harder and I was on the phone to Bentley in Crewe. They were genuinely horrified at this turn of events and put me on to a boffin who told me of several key turn/button press combinations to try, to ‘clear the HCU program’ or something. Sadly they didn’t work.
“This can’t happen, Bentley hoods don’t go wrong” opined the boffin, who sounded genuinely appalled. He pledged to dispatch a technician to sort out my problem.
“She’s well wrapped up and should be perfectly dry overnight,” I assured him.
“Overnight?” he said. “We’re on our way now…”
To my astonishment, at around 3.00pm, reception called up to say there were two men with ‘smart cases’ to see me.
How they got from Crewe to Weymouth in that time I’ll never know, but they were soon all over my beautiful GTC with gauges, dials and laptops. They couldn’t fix it.
“What did I do?” I muttered, hideously embarrassed and hanging my head in shame.
“Don’t worry, YOU didn’t do anything,” they said and explained that this being a press car some, er, cavalier, motoring journalist a while back must have had a poke around where they shouldn’t and left a part uncovered that, over the next month or two, had rusted and finally failed.
“We’ll have to replace it at Crewe,” they said. “We’re awfully sorry about this but it’s never happened before…”
And away they went with my GTC.
Ten minutes later there was a call from a very apologetic Bentley lady to arrange a new date for a loan as soon as possible, which duly arrived and was faultless.
I really highlighted this hiccup because if you pay north of £150,000 for a car, you’re entitled to expect an exemplary back-up service.
This was an unusual opportunity to experience whether a company’s after-sales was as good as its product – and Bentley certainly delivered.