Bentley Mulliner is the bespoke coach-building part of the historic British marque. The oldest firm of its kind in the world, Bentley Mulliner, has returned to the roots with a starting project – the Bacalar. With just twelve examples to be built (and all are pre-sold, by the way) it will be the rarest example of any modern-era Bentley.
The British carmaker says the Bacalar will be “the ultimate expression of two-seat, open-air luxury” and this is vividly brought to life thanks to the experienced artisans that will handcraft the twelve at Bentley Mulliner’s Crewe workshop. Each will be constructed to the specifications and tastes of the lucky dozen, a signature move from Bentley.
Bentley has continued its recent tradition of naming hallmark vehicles after spectacular locations. The Bentayga name stems from a peak in the Canary Islands, the Roque Bentayga. Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula is the location chosen to provide the Bacalar; Laguna Bacalar is a long and narrow strip of water on the eastern side of the peninsular and has a resemblance in shape and size to Loch Ness.
The Bacalar will be a “Barchetta” design. Originally a term used for small boats, Barchetta has also come to define a two-door vehicle and with no provision for a folding or removable hardtop roof. There’s also ostensibly an emphasis on performance, something Bentley’s vehicles are definitely not short of. Here, the W12 engine produces 650 brake horsepower. Another component of a Barchetta is in the body design, with a cockpit that wraps around the driver and passenger, plus solid-looking wings for the front and rear wheel arches.
The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, to give the vehicle its full name, is a truly bespoke creation. Every exterior panel is unique, and the doors hold the only exterior part related to another Bentley. The handles have the same entry system keys as the Continental. Inside it’s a green age. In mid-2019, Bentley previewed a concept vehicle, the EXP 100 GT.
This featured sustainable, ethically-sourced materials. Paint with ash from rice husks provides a deeper metallic finish, ancient Riverwood from East Anglia’s Fenlands, and pure British wool to previewed in the EXP 100 GT concept car last year have now become reality in the Bacalar – just eight months after first being previewed.
These include paint containing ash from rice husks, which provides a sustainable way of delivering a rich metallic finish, natural British wool and 5,000-year-old Riverwood sourced from the ancient Fenlands of East Anglia are also part of the Bacalar’s superbly crafted interior. A new design for the cabin sees the distinctive, wraparound cockpit flowing from a new, steeply angled center console. This waterfalls into the dash and doors, before flowing rearward behind the seats to meet the semi-enclosed luggage area.
The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar has a body that sits on a reworked Continental chassis. The rear track, for example, is a full 4/5 inch (20 mm) broader. Strong and lightweight aluminum makes up the top deck of the Bacalar’s rear, as it does the clamshell. Carbon fiber makes up the doors and wings of the Bacalar. There’s even been new science, with 3D printing utilized.
Bentley works one on one with their clients. This ensures that each vehicle is an expression of the owner, rather than a clone or a semi-copy of another. Colors, trims, materials, exterior treatments are all bespoke per owner, and this marks a return to the way the marque first worked in the early days of the 20th century.
Heritage leather from Bentley is sewn by hand with Beluga leather, and the wool is brought together to bring to life the signature dark ‘tone-on-tone’ character. Alcantara leather wraps the gear selector that engages the drive system via an 8-speed automatic, and Bacalar specific leather door straps & seat releases balance bespoke unique digital instrumentation. There is even a clock face that has a badge specific for each of the Bacalars.
Bentley’s renowned rotating display is at the heart of the infotainment system. When the ignition is engaged, the 40 parts involved rotate the multimedia interface screen from the Riverwood veneer to the screen itself. A third section has analog dials that will show to the cabin outside temperature, a compass and a chronometer.
Part of this Bentley experience goes towards the way a new owner can ask for their cargo and luggage to be carried. Schedoni provides fitted luggage pods, with Schedoni having close to 140 years of luggage carrying materials. The company provides these pods exclusively for the Bacalar and build them to the same exacting standards, and trims the customer has chosen to ensure than when fitted, they fit snugly and provide a true two-seater experience.
Bentley itself has launched the Bacalar’s owners experience alongside a new customer-focused build strategy that will see the near 500-year-old name offer three different ways a customer can engage with the brand. Classic, Collections, and Coachbuilt. The Bacalar headlines the latter, whilst the Classic, for example, has seen the brand handcraft 12 new 1929 4.5L Team Blower automobiles. Each will and have been built from the ground up by hand. Bentley Mulliner Collections will work with new and existing owners to personalize their own Bentley.
A final word from Tracy Crump, the head of Bentley Mulliner’s Commercial Operations. “While Bentley’s motto is ‘Be Extraordinary’, at Bentley Mulliner we look to take it one step further, ‘Beyond Extraordinary’. With the new Bacalar, we have been able to do exactly that, providing a select number of customers with the opportunity to express their personal taste in a truly remarkable grand tourer.”
The return to form by one of the world’s grandest automotive brands is well and truly underway.