The Bentayga dominates the headlines these days as Bentley gets set to launch its first production SUV. But did you know Bentley made a SUV before the Bentayga? It’s true.
As with many of the custom Bentleys made in the 90’s, we owe thanks to the Sultan of Brunei for ordering these trucks. In fact, they may not have seen the light of day if someone had not snagged some photos of the vehicles as they were being loaded on a transport at London’s Heathrow Airport.
I’ve tried to track down some more info on these but I could only locate little bits and pieces on the web about how they were ordered, built, and how much they cost. It is believed that six SUV’s were ordered from Bentley amongst several other cars including custom sedans, wagons, and a convertible very similar to 1994’s Bentley Java concept car. Some sources say that the SUV was called the Bentley Dominator and each of the six SUV’s carried Bentley VINs.
According to rrsilverspirit.com, there are six known Dominator VIN numbers. Due to the secrecy of the project, no one is certain how many were built in total. Several sources believe the left-hand drive Dominator was built from a third generation Land Rover chassis. The running gear is believed to have been a combination of Land Rover’s all-wheel drive system and Bentley’s 6 3/4 Litre turbo V8.
No good images exist of the car’s interior. In fact, the images that do exist only surfaced after a worker spotted the SUVs being loaded onto a transport at Heathrow Airport. In the airport images, we can see a front end that looks very similar to the Java concept car from that same era. Around this time, the Sultan also had several Bentley sedans and coupes built that also had the same exterior design as the Java concept. The rear of the Bentley SUV features a split tailgate.
The Dominator is a very interesting Bentley with a unique, but secretive spot in Bentley’s history. Maybe in time they will reappear. In the meantime, enjoy this gallery of Bentley’s first SUV.
Source: Bentley models of Brunei and other sources