Introduced in 1987, this car:
- Cost roughly £350,000—roughly £694,000 ($1.04m USD in 2015);
- Has a turbocharged 6.75-litre V8 engine with 320 horsepower and 475 lb-ft of torque;
- Can do zero-to-100 km/h (62 mph) in less than 7 seconds;
- …and zero-to-160 km/h (100 mph) in less than 20 seconds;
- Boasts a completely unique and redesigned handcrafted body, to lower drag;
…and the last time one sold a few years ago, the new owner bought it for less than £65,000 (~$97,000 USD). That's not exactly a bargain—or the worst depreciation I've seen—but it makes me wonder why a Ferrari Testarossa from the same vintage is worth about 1/2 of its original value today once you account for inflation, but this completely custom Bentley that's just as fast is now worth less than 10 per cent of its original list price.
Maybe it's how it looks. Hooper & Co. is a historic coachbuilder that dates back to 1807, and was producing bodies for Rolls-Royce from 1909. Isn't that incredible? Even more amazing, think about the change seen throughout the world since the early 1800s. The Hooper & Co. order book was opened in the same year the Parliament of the United Kingdom abolished slavery. The U.S. Constitution had been signed fewer than 20 years earlier. Hooper & Co. was building cars five years before the start of World War I—and this 1987 Empress II was launched in the same year as The Legend of Zelda for the Nintendo Entertainment System.
Cars have been around for a long time, but it's rare you find a modern example with roots that stretch back so far into the past.
I hope you're starting to see this oddity as an absolute deal these days—because in addition to its performance, firm-yet-fair looks, 'old money' connections, and bespoke bodywork, its standard TV screen offers the opportunity to actually play The Legend of Zelda.
Hooper & Co., generous as always, also gave buyers a standard sunroof, different exhausts, wire wheels (ick!), Royal Blue Connolly leather interior, walnut veneer 'embellishments', power memory seats, solid silver rear vanity by Asprey of London, cocktail cabinet with crystal decanters and glasses, and an Alpine 12-speaker stereo.
Perhaps this entry is a little shorter than most, but it's important to remember that the world of weird cars doesn't always mean falling in love with an egg-shaped car. If you'd like an Empress II, start hunting: just six are said to have been made.