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A cemetery in Hollywood and the Bentley Flying Spur Series 51

Movie making and Hollywood have been intertwined since the start of the 20th century. Director D.W. Griffith, best known for the film Birth of  a Nation, was the first person to film a movie in Hollywood. The 17-minute work was titled In Old California, and was shot entirely in an area known as the village of Hollywood. Fast forward a century and modern Hollywood is the epicenter of the film industry, and a major tourist attraction for those visiting Southern California.

Not everything lasts in Hollywood, however, including the very stars upon which the industry counts on to keep the money machine churning. Like everybody else on the planet, they die. That doesn’t mean they are forgotten, and one of the areas where the last bits of their twinkling lives might continue to shine is in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Take a stroll through the resting places of the residents, and you’ll come across names like Mel Blanc, Cecil B. Demille, George Harrison,  Dee Dee and Johnny Ramone, Bugsy Siegel, the dog that played Toto in the Wizard of Oz, and many others. It’s a who’s who of dead famous folks.

The grounds are also home to a unique move experience run by a group called Cinespia. During the warmer season (yes, there is a warm “season” in Southern California), a lush patch of grass becomes the seating area for a handpicked film that’s projected upon the large side wall of a building on the cemetery grounds. Cinespia celebrated its 10th season in 2011, and my wife and I wanted to experience it for ourselves.

A classic bit of Hollywood needs to be approached in a vehicle that adheres to the look-at-me set. Good timing then that the Volkswagen-looking key fob in my hand has the Bentley log on it.

The keys in my hand belong to a Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Looking dignified across all 208.3 inches of its resplendent Crewe-assembled bodywork, the Flying Spur stays true to the Bentley ethos of hiding a weapon of mass destruction beneath a bespoke suit. Said weapon is a 6.0-liter W12 engine, which is supported by a pair of turbos. The forced-induction powerplant is good for 552 horsepower at 6,100 rpm and 479 pound-feet of torque at just 1,600 rpm.

There are no surprises with the 2011 Bentley Flying Spur. It has the tenacity of a tank, and the manners of the Queen herself. The handling is actually much better than expected, but I expected it to handle like a 60-foot Viking fishing boat. Though with a car like this, I’m probably feeling far more grip than actual handling thanks to the all-wheel-drive setup and 275/40R19 series Pirelli tires. I am sure that the braking is excellent though, thanks to the positively massive 15.9-inch front and 13.1-inch rear rotors.

Bentley paired the aforementioned W12 with a  paddle-shiftable six-speed automatic from ZF. That duo comes together to make sure the entire affair of moving this 5,379-pound leviathan is a remarkably hassle-free event. In fact, the Flying Spur simply lifts up a leather driving glove-clad middle finger, points it in the general direction of Physics, and rockets away like a heavy set rolling in at Teahupoo. The sense of power comes on slowly, builds, then crests into a forward-facing assault on your senses. This is serious speed, in its most dignified form.

I took that form from my driveway in Huntington Beach into the heart of the Hollywood Hipsterville. I expected a bit of rioting at the sight of my Crewe crassness, but it was not to be. The crowds were piling into the lawn of the cemetery by the time I arrived, and they parted like the Marlboro Red-smoking sea at the sight of the Flying B. I escorted myself, my wife, and our British-born chariot to a grassy parking area. Putting the suspension into a raised mode allowed me to climb the small curb, and place the gas-chugging mill to sleep for a couple of hours.

We had a movie waiting for us.

With blankets and refreshments in hand, we found a nice spot of open grass to call our own. A DJ was spinning a wide range of music, as other moviegoers continued to occupy the rest of the verdant real estate. Everyone seemed very happy, engaging in hundreds of conversations and drinking beer and wine as the sun set over our groups little slice of Southern California. The projected images, which were a mix of classic movie posters, began to appear more crisp as the large solar spotlight dipped below the horizon. It was movie time.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High originally debuted in 1982, and is the hilarious effort of director Amy Heckerling and writer Cameron Crowe. If you haven’t seen the film, what the hell is wrong with you? it should assume a top position on your upcoming rentals list. Watching the flick on a small screen is always a good time, but taking it in on a larger format screen with hundreds of others? The enjoyability factor goes way up. Jeff Spicoli seems funnier, Brad Hamilton gets far more embarrassed, and Linda Barrett… while, you can figure out how much better her best scene would be on the big screen.

After the film was over, the DJ fired up the music, and most of the crowd hung out for a large portion of the evening. Cinespia stays running for a few hours after the flick ends. Rather than hang out, my wife and I retired to the waiting Bentley, and we were one of the first few cars to leave the cemetery.

Unlocking the Flying Spur and sliding into the hand-crafted premium leather hide seats is akin to plopping down in your favorite den chair after a long day of work. It shouldn’t be a surprise that the cabin of the Bentley is a remarkably comfortable space regardless of which seat you wind up in, and the length of the journey ahead.

Still, it’s not perfect. Far from it, in fact. When sub-$30,000 cars offer ventilated front seats, you would expect an automaker like Bentley to do the same. Additionally, the navigation system looks like it was plucked from a Volkswagen Jetta from three generations past, and the buttons react painfully slowly when touched. It’s items like that, which would make one wonder why they didn’t head to the Mercedes-Benz dealership to sample the S65 AMG instead.

Speaking of the interior, the particular Flying Spur I spent time with is a rather unique beast. It’s a Series 51 edition car, and that means the interior has been jazzed up quite a few notches. Bentley allows customers to sample a wider range of color choices and combinations when shopping in the Series 51 side of the store. What did the shopper decide for our Flying Spur? Aquamarine and Cream. While we find it quite nice of Bentley to allow customers this level of customization, this particular color combination is not… ideal. OK, it’s downright hideous. Especially considering the entire interior upgrade (which includes the 19-inch granite-finish wheels, thick carpeting throughout, and side sill plaques) adds an extra $9,070 to the $184,200 base price. Once you add in the Naim audio system ($7,180), Madrona veneer wood ($1,625), a hefty gas guzzler tax, and a few other options, you arrive at the as-tested price of $216,790. Righteous bucks.

Is that price outrageous? No, of course it’s not.

We’re talking about a Bentley here, which is supposed to be ridiculous, powerful, expensive, and a tad awe inspiring to boot. The Flying Spur is all of that, even with its awful mint and caramel interior. The reason you buy this car, is because you can. Should you pick up a Series 51 with the aqua on cream look, I recommend keeping your eyes on the road, popping in side one of Led Zepplin IV, and applying as much throttle as you can, as you power on towards the horizon. Fast times, indeed.

[Disclosure: Bentley was convinced that I was a famous rapper, not an infamous blooger, and decided to send me a Flying Spur for a few days. A tank of gas was included, and used… quickly. This thing sips fuel like … well, a rapper sips high-end champagne.]

  • pj134

    Nouveau riche.

  • Nice write up. I had mixed feeling about the GTC Supersports I drove over the summer. It was nice, but…

    • Problems [car bloggers] people have.

  • rennsport964

    That interior color combination makes me want to vomit. On the interior. It can't possibly make it any worse.

    • Alcology

      I had the same reaction and realized one of my AMC eagles has the same scheme going on and I actually like. Woops.

  • PotbellyJoe

    You know when the news interviews the neighbors about the serial killer, who wore his mother's underwear while stabbing homeless midgets he met while cruising http://www.unicyclists-needing-love.com, and they all say "he always seemed so normal. A real nice guy."?

    This interior/exterior combo.

    Didn't see that coming.

    • Impalamino

      I'm super bummed that your link isn't real.

      • SSurfer321

        that's the old address. It's now registered under the .xxx domain.

      • They went offline to protest SOPA and PIPA

        • PotbellyJoe

          I hear it was what pushed Marco Rubio to oppose the legislation…

  • PowerTryp

    Full Disclosure: Jeff got layed 3 times just driving this thing around because women thought he was rich and mistook his salvation army/walmart clothing as some super expensive designer outfit.

    • you just reminded me that I need to add a disclosure… clearly, I am awful at doing so.

      • PowerTryp

        That's why we're here. Just remember, you're nothing without your comments section.

      • pj134

        That gave me a "HAHAHAHAHA" moment followed by a "bawwww".

  • PrawoJazdy

    I shouldn't be able to get a better nav unit in a $22,000 Buick as standard equipment. That said, I'd still buy one with that interior. It's awful, but that's part of the fun of sleeping on a pile of money.

  • I can't help but think Bentleys have a bit too much VAG parts-share in them for the price, especially if you cross-shop the nearly identical A8. That money buys a lot of S-class, as well.

    Given the age of the chassis and styling, they're definitely coasting on their long-term name recognition and the medium-term reputation they built in the early '00s when the current crop launched. Basically selling to people who want a Bentley, not discerning shoppers who want an Uber-sedan.

    • pj134

      So basically, the nouveau riche?

      • Basically.

        Tangentially related…sometime around summer 2007 or 2008 I saw an <a href="http://images.google.com/search?tbm=isch&hl=en&source=hp&biw=1398&bih=699&q=escalade+ext&btnG=Search+Images&gbv=2&oq=sitting+monkey&aq=f&aqi=g4g-mS1&aql=&gs_sm=e&gs_upl=1754l4200l0l4424l18l16l2l2l1l1l194l1491l3.9l12l0">Escalade EXT with a vinyl decal for "Nouveau Riche Real Estate Investment Academy" or some such thing in overpriced/overleveraged/overbuilt Valencia, CA. There was some tagline about making money doing some very stupid 2007-ish real estate arbitrage.

        I couldn't think of a better distillation of 2007 than that: Super-dumb SUV used as a "commercial vehicle" tax writeoff, driven by someone who didn't know the connotation of "nouveau riche", making empty money by teaching people how to make empty money through financial shenanigans.

        • HAHAHAH!!! Found the Google maps entry…apparently the "University" is in Torrance: http://g.co/maps/pwbgz

          "Nouveau Riche University has the best Real Estate Investing Education in the Industry. We provide the E.P.I.C. solution, which is education, properties, income and a community of like-minded investors"

          Their site gets blocked at my office as a "parked domain", meaning it's probably no more.

          Wait…here we go: http://www.nouveauriche.com/

          • pj134

            I hope with everything inside of me it is an elaborate joke. There is no way that anyone can be that clueless to the connotations of that term. Either they don't know that they are referring to themselves as pretentious douchebags or they like calling themselves pretentious douchebags. Neither is acceptable.

            Although, it could just be the founder of what may be a pyramid scheme calling out his buy ins with the business name.

            But yes, that sums up everything wrong with the past decade. Although I'll buy an Escalade when they're 2 grand.

            • I'll totally buy a Hummer at some point in the future.

              …wait…that sounds wrong.

              …well, it sounds wrong either way, actually.

              • pj134

                Yeah… I'd have no issue with any of the H's when they're cheap enough.

              • Alcology

                I bet a few Hummers were had for free after that movie

                edit: Hell, buy the bentley and the free Hummer will follow.

                gross.

  • RegalRegalia

    For all the bitching we do about how boring interiors are now…I definitely understand why this color combo gets hated on. So much of me wants to be reminded of a 1960s American land yacht, but I see it and think "lotto-winning white trash customized C-5 Corvette". The real question is then, do we really want what we ask for when I bemoan the bland black, grey, or tan interiors of modern cars? I hope not, and I hope this is just a bad example of an idea that had its heart in the right place.

    • PotbellyJoe

      The anthracite gray Maserati Quattroporte with the red leather interior I see during my commute in the mornings says there are better combos than turquoise and cream for your silver car.

    • Devin

      I think the guide to colors for your interior should be "If I brought back an attractive person and my bedroom was these colors, would they want to have sex with me?" In this case, with this scheme, the answer is no. But with some color schemes, the answer would be yes.

    • pj134

      Wut?
      <img src="http://www.imcdb.org/i257048.jpg&quot; width=500>

    • FЯeeMan

      I came here to say exactly this. I think.

      For all the complaints about bland colors, we get this and complain about it too.

      /was late to the party…

    • Lotte

      Good point. Whenever I find myself on Bentley's car customizer I find myself in a BRG Brooklands with nearly full black interior and burl walnut.

      But! I chose those colours. I decided against the red contrast stitching but like the red seat belts. I dislike teal on blue but I also dislike having no choice for a black-on-tan Honda. Picky, I know.

      • pj134

        I would end up with a brown car with shades of brown and green interior and a nice walnut dash. Or, silver car and shades of cardinal interior.

        • FuzzyPlushroom

          Dark green over brown and charcoal. I like where you're going with walnut, too.

          • pj134

            Of course, when I purchase my bespoke English (German) car it will have a ratio defining it's silhouette. None of this plebian "let's make an expensive A8" bullshit.

  • Oddly enough… the shade appealed most to folks who weren't "car people". My brother LOVED it, and his friend did too. My wife, not a car person, … hated it (putting it kindly), so… yeah, I don't know.

    • pj134

      So basically, those who want to be Nouveau Riche loved it?

      Did it have a light blue tint or was that just the light puking off the dashboard?

      • just the dash reflecting into the glass. this car looks perfectly normal, until you open the door.

  • PowerTryp

    Am I the only one who loves that interior?

    • pj134

      Really my only issue with it is the way the wood clashes with the other blue. Orangish and Blue makes it look like a toy that's trying to be edgy.

      • BlackIce_GTS

        I love the way the wood clashes with the blue! This inspired me to fiddle with Bentley's configurator for a totally reasonable amount of time. According to them Series 51 is all about wacky colour combinations. (Bentley may not have used the word 'wacky')

        Standard and 'speed' Flying Spurs have optional ventilated seats, and the Continental GT has ventilation/massage, but the Series 51 doesn't. Odd.

        • pj134

          Hmm, I can't help but think a nice birch would set it off better all in all.

    • skitter

      It's not what I would spec, but I wouldn't call it bad either. It wouldn't bother me, but I'd rather it wound up with someone who loves it.

      Edit: Excellent review, by the way. So much better than some paint-by-numbers 'road test',

    • RegalRegalia

      I think that the all blue steering wheel is really what ruins it for me. If there were wood pieces incorporated into the wheel itself it'd work better for me. Also, the black plastic against that blue looks, like what MadScience was saying earlier, very VAG parts bin. I think I could take this better on a Mulsanne and yes I realize that I am dancing on the line where I arrive at self-contradiction. I really want to love it though.

  • Jim-Bob

    Is it sick and wrong of me to want to put a magnetic sign on the roof and deliver pizza with this thing? I would just love to see the looks on people's faces when I came to the door…

    • pj134

      Nope, Jeff should give you the keys for that very reason.

    • If we ever get our hands on a Mulsanne… we'll have to do that.

      Hooniverse's Classy Mother Fucking Pizza

  • Jeff…No Cars in the Lot at the Cemetary? Maxichamp and this olelongrooffan are hugely disappointed…

  • Deartháir

    Too much VAG parts-bin? It's a fucking Phaeton, what do you expect? They rebadged it for people willing to pay exorbitant amounts of money for no reason other than "because we told you to". I've driven both, and at 1/3 the price, I'd take the Phaeton every single time. And because I'm in the minority, these cars fund the R&D for everything cool in the VW group.

    • I agree… I'd take the Phaeton too. Also, hand on to your butts, the world is coming to an end… because we agree on something.

      Cheers! Happy End Times to you! This is what the Mayans meant…

    • Which is to say, I'd much rather have a Phaeton at 1/3 the price.

      But you get to maintain the W12.

    • Van_Sarockin

      VW shouldn't keep selling a car that lots of people want? I'd like to see you pitch that at the board meeting. They've amortized their costs, and now they're maximizing profit. And it's still a stunningly beautiful car. If they don't freshen up rapidly enough, then they'll start to lose sales and market shares to competitors, but I don't think that's happened yet. Meanwhile, how's Rolls-Royce sales doing? And the plug was just pulled on Maybach. Sometimes you don't fix what isn't broken.

  • I had to hurry up and get a spot to watch the flick, so I couldn't start snapping until we sat down… the grounds are pretty awesome though

  • Buickboy92

    I absolutely adore that interior! Excellent review!

  • Hank

    I'm not really surprised that the car looks great. I honestly expect nothing less from Bentley. This would certainly turn its fair share of heads wherever it goes – from small neighborhoods to auto auctions in sydney.

  • Is it the camera that made the interior look blue, or is that really the color? Are they using smurf skin instead of leather now? Other than that, it's what I wold expect form a Bentley. For that amount of money I would buy something else, but to each his own.