Three-strong Mulliner family makes global debut
Bentley Mulliner is showcasing its new three-portfolio offering at this year's Salon Privé, with global debuts of the new coachbuilt Bacalar and the new Continental GT Mulliner coupe, alongside a sneak preview of the partly restored 1929 4½-Litre supercharged ‘Blower' Team Car.
As Bentley's in-house bespoke and personal commissioning division, Bentley Mulliner now operates a trio of portfolios to deliver exceptional craftsmanship across the Bentley model range and beyond.
Speaking at Salon Privé Bentley's Chairman and Chief Executive, Adrian Hallmark, comments:
"Mulliner has a rich history and expertise spanning centuries of coachbuilding. These qualities of fine craftsmanship and visionary design are still evident in Mulliner's latest products. Mulliner's mission is to respond to the requirements of the most discerning Bentley customers, providing iconic and unforgettable bespoke Bentleys.
The three examples at Salon Privé demonstrate how traditional coachbuilding can be reflected through contemporary techniques, sustainable materials and shows Bentley's design capabilities like no other luxury car manufacturer today."
Restoration of an Icon
For many enthusiasts, the imposing ‘Blower' Bentley is the iconic racing Bentley of the pre-war years, forever linked with the image of its driver, the dashing Bentley Boy, Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin.
The Bentley Mulliner Classic portfolio was introduced last year with the announcement at Salon Privé 2019 that Bentley's 1929 Team Blower (reg No. UU5872) was to be reborn with a new build of 12 supercharged 4½-litre examples of the iconic car, each individually handcrafted by a team of specialists from Mulliner. Using a combination of generations of handcraftsmanship skills and the very latest digital technology, the 1929 Team Blower has provided a master example for 12 continuations - one for each race that the original fleet of four Team Blowers competed in.
To deliver this incredible Continuation Series – the first in the history of a pre-war car – Bentley's own Team Car was stripped to its individual components ahead of a sympathetic mechanical restoration.
Team Car No.2 was disassembled to its individual components, and each part cataloged and meticulously scanned in 3D to create a complete digital model of the entire car. Using the original 1920s molds and tooling jigs, and an array of traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology, 12 sets of parts are now being created, before Bentley's skilled heritage technicians start to assemble the new Blowers. The 12 continuations – all already sold - will be identical wherever possible to the original – mechanically, aesthetically, and spiritually – with only minimal hidden changes dictated by modern safety concerns.
With the engineering prototype for the Continuation Series now in build, the restoration of the Team Car is almost finished. The car has been mechanically recommissioned with worn or damaged parts repaired or replaced, and the chassis and running gear have been given an extremely deep clean. The remaining work is to the ash-framed body, which requires some overly-worn areas to be restored. This work is due to be completed before Christmas.
Glyn Davies, Special Projects Leader at Bentley's Mulliner division comments;
"The scanning of every component has taken many months and has provided us with some really interesting discoveries. Team Car No.2 went through a restoration in the 1950s where sadly, some parts had to be removed and replaced with new. When we were taking apart the front seats to understand the construction and its materials, we found a business card dated 1956 from the trimmer who had worked on the car. The card had been tucked inside a small purpose made secret pocket within one of the seat flutes - a true time capsule. This is something we would love to re-create with one of our business cards to continue that tradition."
Further investigation also revealed that the chassis of the Bentley Blower was not symmetrical. "Without modern car building techniques, the engineers would have struggled to build a chassis which was perfectly symmetrical. We will be restoring Team Car No.2 to exactly how it would have been, but we will be building our 12 recreation cars to be perfectly symmetrical - there is no benefit or advantage to an asymmetrical chassis!"
The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar - the rarest two-door Bentley of the modern era, and the ultimate expression of two-seat, open-air luxury – is making its public debut at Salon Privé. This definitive Grand Tourer spearheads a return to coachbuilding by Bentley Mulliner – the oldest coachbuilder in the world. Just 12 examples of this striking, limited-edition model are being created, guaranteeing rarity and exclusivity, and offering supreme luxury and breath-taking performance. Bacalar looks to the future of bespoke luxury motoring - each model will be handcrafted in Bentley Mulliner's workshop in Crewe, according to the individual customer's personal tastes. The Bacalar is the first car to be created as part of Bentley Mulliner's new Coachbuilt portfolio.
A roofless Barchetta design with all-new and highly muscular coachwork, embracing a myriad of options and materials, each Bacalar will be truly unique, the result of direct interaction between the Bentley Mulliner design team and the individual customer. A masterpiece of craftsmanship, the Bacalar is a seamless fusion of materials with an intelligent curation of technology. It draws on design DNA from the beautifully sculpted, award-winning EXP 100 GT which was recently crowned ‘Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year' at the prestigious French Festival Automobile International and ‘Concept Car of the Year' by GQ magazine. All examples of the exquisite Bentley Mulliner Bacalar have already been allocated to customers from around the world.
Ultimate Luxury Grand Tourers
The third branch of the business – Bentley Mulliner Collections - will continue to offer customers pinnacle luxury derivatives of the core Bentley range, such as the new Continental GT Mulliner Coupe, as well as the opportunity to personalize their new Bentley.
The Continental GT Mulliner Coupe includes a suite of exclusive exterior design features. The car sits on new and unique 22" Mulliner wheels, with a bespoke design of elegant beauty in a painted and polished finish. The center badge of each wheel is self-leveling, keeping the iconic Bentley ‘B' upright at all times.
The new ‘Double Diamond' matrix grille at the front of the vehicle defines the new Mulliner signature style, complemented by matching front fender vents echoing the same silver and black design and with chromed Mulliner branding. Approaching and opening either door reveals the other Mulliner design features – Satin Silver mirror caps with Mulliner Welcome Lamps beneath, and illuminated outer door sills with Mulliner text.
The cabin of the Continental GT Mulliner is one defined by luxury and showcases a level of choice and customization that only Mulliner can provide. A unique color split is exclusive to the car, with a new combination of primary and secondary hide joined by a third color through a flowing design line.
The Mulliner Driving Specification is fitted as standard, bringing the "Diamond in Diamond" quilting to the seats, doors trims, and rear quarter panels, now with both contrast and accent stitching running through the diamond's design.
The seats themselves are finished with embroidered Mulliner logos. The floor mats are edged with micro-piping to match the rest of the color theme of the interior and chrome Bentley ‘B' retention caps are an example of the fine details that separate the Continental GT Mulliner.
The center console is dressed in a new diamond milled technical finish that uses precision machining to form a perfect pattern of facets, flanked either side by Grand Black walnut veneer with chrome overlays. A unique Breitling clock sits in the center of the console, while the passenger side fascia is finished with a silhouette of the car's exterior profile and the Mulliner logo. The veneer flows into the doors, where it is completed by a discreet Bentley ‘B' motif.
For the driver, the brushed-metal finish of the Breitling clock is carried through from the physical world to the digital, with a unique design to the main gauges of the LED main instruments cluster where careful skeuomorphic design and the application of digital textures makes the virtual dials look like real metal.
Bentley Returns to Live Events
Bentley has been widely recognized for its leading role in the UK automotive industry during the COVID-19 crisis. The introduction of 250 changes to the company's headquarters and factory in Crewe meant that production could restart safely and effectively, and has since reached 100% capacity. Now, the same meticulous and careful approach will be extended to Bentley's live events program, starting with Salon Privé.
Thorough measures being taken by the event organizers include temperature checks for all attendees before wwwittance, and a five-times-daily schedule of fogging with hypochlorous acid; a non-toxic and proven coronavirus-destroying disinfectant. Beyond that, the Bentley Mulliner stand requires the mandatory wearing of face masks for all staff and guests, and a full track-and-trace system is in place for all visitors. The stand has been designed in a way that visitors are automatically socially-distanced from staff, and not able to enter the cars on display, while a one-way system ensures that socially distancing between guests is easy to maintain. Hand sanitizer is readily available to all and the stand and its cars are being constantly cleaned by a dedicated team.