Bentley relaunches restoration work on the very first 1965 T-series for its Heritage collection
Bentley has begun an 18-month restoration process that will culminate with the oldest existing T-Series earning its rightful place in Bentley’s expanding Heritage collection.
VIN001, the car is powered by a 6.25 liter pushrod V8 developing 225 hp (168 kW / 228 hp) when new. Although it didn’t produce what today would be considered remarkable power, when it was introduced in 1959 it was considered an engineering marvel.
The engine had the highest specific horsepower by weight of any production vehicle on earth when introduced (2.7 lb/hp or 1.2 kg/hp) and its inherent over-engineering meant it formed the basis of the V8 from Bentley for another 50 years. Through development, Bentley engineers managed to get the engine formula to produce more than twice the power and emit 99% less by the time it was finally retired in 2019.
Read more: Bentley apprentices team up to restore classic T-series
This was not the T-series’ only claim to fame, however. First shown at the Paris Motor Show on October 5, 1965, it was the first Bentley to use unitary construction with a monocoque chassis at the instead of the body-on-frame construction that the company previously used.
Other design innovations included separate subframes to support the engine and transmission, suspension, steering, and rear axle assemblies, with “Vibrashock” rubber mounts developed to reduce NVH. It also had four-wheel independent suspension with automatic height control and hydraulic disc brakes on all four corners, which was quite modern for the 60s.
The modern design was used to meet customers’ growing desire for vehicles that were smaller on the outside and larger on the inside. When it left the factory, the T-Series was seven inches shorter, five inches lower, and 3.5 inches narrower than its predecessor, the S3. Despite this, overall cabin space has increased, as has trunk space.
This particular example was manufactured on September 28, 1965 and was intended to serve the automaker for trial work around the world. It was finished in Shell Gray paint with a blue leather interior. Although it has been idle for the better part of 15 years, the engine and transmission, Bentley was pleased to learn on start-up, are still in good condition.
Restoration work actually began in 2016, when a group of apprentices began removing trim and reconditioning the bodywork. After initial preparation, however, restoration was put on hold to allow Bentley to concentrate on manufacturing new vehicles. He is now ready to begin the restoration process in earnest, a job that is expected to take 18 months.
The first of just 1,868 first-generation T-Series ever produced, it sold for £5,425 in 1965, the equivalent of £111,769.86 in 2021, the last year for which the Bank of England offers a calculation inflation and which amounts to $145,837.31 at current exchange rates. Once its restoration is complete, the car will take on the invaluable role of representing an important part of Bentley’s 103 years of existence, which its Heritage collection will attempt to represent in full.