Jordan's Bentley is Volo museum's newest addition

  • Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum at the wheel of a 2005 Bentley Continental GT Coupe, which was recently purchased from Michael Jordan.

    Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum at the wheel of a 2005 Bentley Continental GT Coupe, which was recently purchased from Michael Jordan. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

  • Michael Jordan's 2005 Bentley Continental GT Coupe is the most recent of an elite group of cars to be housed in what is known as "the vault" at the Volo Auto Museum. Director Brain Grams, pictured with the Bentley, says it can reach a speed of 198 mph.

    Michael Jordan's 2005 Bentley Continental GT Coupe is the most recent of an elite group of cars to be housed in what is known as "the vault" at the Volo Auto Museum. Director Brain Grams, pictured with the Bentley, says it can reach a speed of 198 mph. Mick Zawislak | Staff Photographer

 
 
Updated 3/31/2011 6:25 PM

Fire up the twin, turbocharged V-6 engines and a low rumble of concentrated power and threat of explosiveness is unleashed.

Add "sleek" and "smooth" to the description of this 2005 Bentley Continental GT Coupe and you have traits reminiscent of basketball great Michael Jordan, the original and sole owner until about a month ago.

 

At 552 horsepower with all-wheel drive, this sports car can reach 198 mph. So they say.

"When you hit the gas pedal the tires don't spin at all, it just goes," notes Brian Grams, director of the Volo Auto Museum. How does he know?

"I plead the fifth," he says with a grin.

It was personalized by Jordan with tinted glass, $9,000 Lowenhart wheels and a talking radar system with front and rear sensors. Now, the car is the most recent celebrity addition for the Grams family, which long has operated the rambling antique and auto museum emporium on 30 acres near routes 120 and 12 in Volo.

This Bentley inspired the grille-like lower foot vents, molded heel and other characteristics of the Nike Air Jordan XXI basketball shoe, which debuted in 2006.

It is the most recent arrival in an elite class of cars housed at the museum.

"That's part of what we call our vault collection," Grams explained. "On special occasions, we bring those cars out."

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More than a dozen, mainly celebrity-owned vehicles are housed in the private garage. They include the 1996 Rolls-Royce that was the last car Princess Diana rode in on U.S. soil and an original "General Lee" 1969 Dodge Charger featured in the first year of the "Dukes of Hazzard" television show.

Because of the nature of the business, the family has developed a reputation as buyers and sellers of vintage cars, as well as those owned by celebrities or used in movies or television shows.

"A lot of people know us," Grams said.

In 1999, the family bought a 1993 ZR-1 Corvette from Jordan. So when it was time to sell the forest green Bentley, one of Jordan's representatives called Grams and the car was shipped from North Carolina, he said.

"He's had the car for six years. For a celebrity especially, that's a long time to own a car," Grams said.

The Grams paid about $80,000. A new 2005 Bentley Continental GT would have cost about $160,000, according to Bentley Northbrook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

"That was a good buy -- for just a Bentley," said Grams.

And aside from the five miles or so that Grams' father, Greg, put on the Bentley going to the movies recently, all of its 12,000 miles were driven by Jordan.

Starting in June, the Jordan car and others in the vault can be viewed by paid museum guests who buy a $3.95 ticket for a tour aboard a restored open-topped 1937 Ford bus, once used at the Morton Arboretum.

The tour, a new feature this year, will include a history of the village and grounds, including an original barn that is said to be haunted, according to Grams.

As a business venture, the attractions also are for sale. About 200 are classic cars, such as a 1956 wisteria violet-colored Lincoln Premier, one of few with air conditioning at that time. The no-hassle price? $49,998.

"Last year, we sold just over 1,200 cars. The nice thing about these cars are they're recession-proof," Grams said.

"This is where we make our money. The Hollywood cars, that's the fun part," Grams said.

It's hard to say what Jordan's Bentley will go for, although his name alone ups the ante, as was the case with the Corvette.

"We got a $75,000 premium for the car just because he owned it," Grams said.