Road Trip: San Francisco to Santa Barbara — in a Bentley
Bill Fink, Big pimpin’ (Photo: Bill Fink)
The Car: A brand-new, $225,000 Bentley Continental Speed Convertible — surely the result of a mix-up of mailing lists. But who am I to question the people delivering this shiny car to my doorstep?
The Route: A 3-day, 650-mile round trip from San Francisco to Santa Barbara. Highway 101’s curving path in the hills and along the Pacific Ocean should be a good place to test the car’s handling, and the inland straightaways will be a fine place to explore its speed — a maximum 203 miles per hour.
The Objective: To explore California with the comedy of a quarter-million-dollar car cruising through small farming towns and the absurdity of a disheveled writer driving a Bentley to upscale Santa Barbara haunts.
Leaving Town: I rev up the roaring 616 horsepower engine, press the button to open the roof, and cruise onto the highway on a glorious sunny day. Heading south from San Francisco, I can’t wait to see the faces of other jealous drivers when they see my sweet ride. Immediately upon entering the highway, another new Bentley passes me. Welcome to Silicon Valley.
Highway 101, Near Salinas: In a lonely stretch of Highway 101, driving about 80 mph, I have to move to the right lane to pass a car. In a typical California jerk-driver move, he accelerates to prevent me from passing him. I press the gas a little, and so does he. However, I’m in a Bentley Speed convertible, and when I drop my foot down harder, in two seconds the rival driver has become only a blip in my rear view mirror, and the speedometer reads 110. (Note to California Highway Patrol: all speeds in this story are imaginary. I drove 55 the whole time).
The American Riviera (Photo: Photo Jim Corwin)