Bentley’s bespoke division – Mulliner – has continued to see exponential growth in 2022, continuing the trend seen last year. Requests for personalisation and bespoke content via Mulliner have risen by 200 per cent since 2020, to the highest level in the company’s history. On average, three Bentleys per day are now produced that include bespoke requests.
Dating back to the early days at Le Mans, a new feature being introduced is 18K Gold Plated Organ Stops. They pay homage to the original Bentley Boys, whilst providing an iconic and timeless finish. The feature appeared recently in one of Mulliner’s Limited Edition cars and add to the interior of any specially curated Bentley. The Number 9 Edition by Mulliner was in honour of Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin – one of the original ‘Bentley Boys’ of the 1920s and ‘30s. Birkin was a Bentley customer, investor and a racing driver, full of entrepreneurial spirit and ambition – and through the determined collaboration of man and machine, the 4½ litre ‘Blower’ was born.
The second new addition is an increased selection of open-pore veneer. Inspired by the natural effect of Stone veneers, the latest offering now includes Liquid Amber, Vavona and Tamo Ash in more sustainable open-pore finishes. All are treated with an ultra-thin matt lacquer solely for protection and gives the surface the natural texture of the wood, varying from the more traditional smooth gloss finished and using 90 per cent less lacquer.
Selected from only the very best, most figured stock available, open-pore veneer is painted with just three ultra-thin layers of lacquer, together totalling only 0.1 mm in thickness. By comparison, Bentley’s High Gloss lacquer coating is 0.5 mm thick and has a glossy, smooth finish. Each layer is applied by hand and sanded between applications, ensuring the lacquer sticks to the natural grooves of the wood. The resulting finish is wax-like and perfectly highlights the authentic, natural colour and texture of the wood species.
The Mulliner Personal Commissioning Guide offers a unique mix of traditional and contemporary options that will appeal to Bentley’s diverse and extraordinary clients. Customers can choose bespoke hide colours, painted veneers, personalised interior stitching and tweed trimmed door inserts to name but a few of the unique offerings from Bentley Mulliner that can be used to enhance the unique look and feel of their Bentley.
The latest Mulliner Personal Commissioning Guide now includes nine different designer suggestions to help inspire customers or provide a base for them to create their own unique car. The increased demand has also challenged the team at Mulliner to create new personalisation features.
The proportion of Bentleys with bespoke features and content has risen from 2 per cent in 2020 to 6 per cent of annual production today. Reviewing the requests shows interesting trends between each model – Bentayga customers are more individual with exterior paints, while Flying Spur customers are more interested in Mulliner features such as dual finish veneers. Continental GT customers focus their attention on bespoke aspect from the Personal Commissioning Guide such as the pinstriped carbon fibre body kit option.
Mulliner has been responsible for some of the most iconic and unique cars throughout the last century of Bentleys history, from the 1950’s R Type Continental, to cars fit for royalty, and more recently the exceptional Blower Continuation and Bacalar projects. The oldest coachbuilders in the world provide customers with the option to explore a more individually, commissioned Bentley – with options ranging from unique colours and bespoke stitching all the way up to totally coachbuilt, one-off Bentleys.
In July 2021, the milestone of 1,000 bespoke projects was passed, since a specific design team was formed in 2014. Today the number of projects has risen to 1,350 in just 10 months – a surge in demand reflecting Mulliner’s increasing ability to deliver any option that a customer requests.
Customers have also increased the number of bespoke features per request. In 2020 a customer would likely ask for two features; today it’s typically up to seven. With a flair for design or by using the co-creation skills of the Mulliner design team, cars can evolve from a change in paint to a fully-themed vehicle celebrating the owner’s business, favourite pastime or passion.
A recent popular project saw Bentley Orlando use Mulliner’s extensive capability to produce a bespoke space-themed Bentayga Speed for one of its customers utilising content from Mulliner’s personal commissioning guide and a number of bespoke elements. Bentley retailers are playing a key role to bring exciting regional variations to customers around the world with the aid of Mulliner.
With one of the most extensive colour palettes in the world and with almost limitless interior options, unique configurations can run into billions of variations. Indeed, there are currently a total of 17 billion ways in which a customer can specify a Continental GT.