The world's most expensive station wagon ... going cheap
In the tradition of the "shooting brake", this 2003 Bentley Arnage-based estate car is perhaps the most lavishly crafted station wagon in history. It began life in 2003 as a brand new 500-hp, twin-turbo 6.75-liter Bentley Arnage, and was purchased by an Italian industrial heir with some exclusive modifications in mind.
Living in both Monaco and the famous Swiss mountain resort of St. Moritz, the owner wanted something capable of carrying plenty of luggage between his homes, and it also needed four-wheel-drive suitable for negotiating the rugged terrain of his Swiss alpine property.
The brand new car was shipped to the famous American modification specialist Genaddi Design, where the Bentley body was recrafted and extended into a new "estate car" shape. At the same time, a 4WD system from a Cadillac Escalade was fitted to enable the twin-turbo engine to spread that 1,000 Nm (738 lb·ft) of torque across all four wheels.
Numerous modifications to the function of the car were performed at that time, including the fitment of a Webasto double sunroof.
Upon receiving the modified, but still new, Bentley at his home in Monaco, the owner was unsatisfied with the interior created by Genaddi, and subsequently sent it onwards to Pininfarina in Italy, where a third handcrafted interior was completed.
By the time it had returned from the Pininfarina coachwork facility outside Turin, the AWD Bentley station wagon had cost US$900,000, and over the subsequent 15 years it has travelled just 40,000 km (24,855 mi) and been fastidiously maintained by the Bentley dealerships in Monaco and St Moritz.
Last Sunday, at Artcurial's Monaco auction, the car was offered with an estimated price of €80,000 to €160,000 (US$90,700 to $181,450), but failed to make reserve, probably because the extensive modifications will make registration difficult in some countries.
The car is still for sale, and given the extraordinary craftsmanship, it looks like excellent value for the right buyer as all that sunk expense has already been paid for. From the seller's viewpoint, if $100,000 is recouped from the sale, he has discounted the new price by 90 percent, paying $20 a km ($32.19 per mi) for that unique functionality.