Rolls-Royce Motor Cars will add the Bentley Continental SC to its range for 1999. It is essentially a new version of the Bentley Continental T, with removable glass roof panels.
It will sell for about $319,900, the second-most expensive Bentley after the $339,900 Azure convertible.
Rolls says the SC stands for Sedanca Coupe, a body style with a removable roof section above the driver and front passenger that was popular in the 1920s.
The company expects to sell only 49 Continental SCs worldwide this year, then about 80 per year thereafter. The USA will account for about half of all sales, and the US sales subsidiary already has orders for 20.
Sales are expected to begin shortly after a premiere at the Paris auto show.
Power comes from the old Rolls and Bentley 6.75-liter V-8, not the new 4.4-liter BMW V-8 used in the Bentley Arnage. The 400hp SC accelerates from zero to 100kph in 6.1 seconds despite its curb weight of 2,600kg.
Development began 18 months ago, before Vickers sold Rolls-Royce to Volkswagen. It required roughly six months each for design, tooling and testing, said Tony Gott, board member for engineering.
Gott said that getting the SC roof panels right was one of the hardest aspects of the project. The panels had to be easy to put on and take off, and they had to withstand 10 years of simulated aggressive use. Once the panels are threaded into a groove on the roof, a power mechanism latches them in place. They are stored in the trunk when not in use.
Italian coachbuilder Pininfarina SpA, which builds bodies for the Azure, also makes the SC body.