It could not have been a better setting for the display of 1996 Rolls-Royces and Bentleys in the Thornhill section of Zionsville.This quaint village is the home of the Albers Rolls-Royce agency, America's oldest exclusive Rolls-Royce dealership. So,
it was only fitting that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars, Inc., should trot out its new line at an Indiana location.For 1996, Rolls is offering a series of Rolls-Royce and Bentley sedans, a Bentley coupe, and a Bentley convertible coupe. This first Bentley
convertible in 25 years bears the rather exotic name Bentley Azure and comes complete with sleek appearance and breathtaking price.To complement the new cars, there is at last a new look. The convertible obviously represents new styling, with the
sedans being close behind.Rolls has joined the modern age and embraced aerodynamics. But not so much that the cars don't look like Rolls-Royces.The styling for the sedans is more rounded. The grille that marks the automobile as undeniably being a
Rolls-Royce is a little smaller. The famed Flying Lady mascot that graces the grille is a bit smaller in order to retain the proper proportions relative to the rest of the front end design.The line's knockout punch is the Bentley Azure convertible.
The price of $319,000 is liable to knock anyone out.Styled by Pinanfarina of Italy and built by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars in Crewe, England, every one of the 30 convertibles allocated to the North American market was sold before being built. In fact,
there is a waiting list for the Azure."You're looking at about mid-1996 for orders taken now," said Herman Albers, owner of Albers Rolls-Royce.This is some set of wheels, beginning with Rolls' 412-cubic inch (6.75-liters) aluminum V-8. An engine
of this size automatically ensures power. Rolls takes the next step, giving the V-8 a turbocharger with a water-cooled intercooler to drop the temperature of the fuel/air mass going into the engine.Added is a ZYTEK EMS 3 computer-controlled engine
management system. The ensuing results is 385- to 400-horsepower and a whopping 553 foot-pounds of torque.Rolls reportedly claims 385-horsepower. Mel Donegan, Rolls' zone service manager, said at the showing, "It's 400."At 5,400 pounds of curb
weight, 15-horsepower one way or the other probably isn't going to make that much difference. It's the tremendous torque of 412 cubic inches that hurls almost three tons of motor car forward with a vengeance.The differential optimizes rear wheel
traction, and Rolls says 0-60 mph acceleration is in the 6-second bracket. That's a time that puts a big, heavy, luxury automobile right in the middle of the muscle cars. Top speed is electronically limited to 150 mph.It almost goes without saying
that the car is loaded with amenities. New is an electronically controlled tilt steering column that is linked to preset positions of the driver's seat and mirrors.Also, the touch of a switch rolls the front seat forward so that back
seat passengers have more room to get in or out. A second touch moves the front seat back to its original position.There is a complete range of power-assist equipment, dual climate control, dual air bags, and a computerized automatic ride control
system.There are three ride modes -- boulevard, normal and sports -- with the suspension setting determined by vehicle speed, road conditions, and driving habits.For example, if a driver should suddenly swerve while the car is in boulevard or
normal mode, the suspension will shift to the firmer sports mode within milliseconds.