Currently reading: Bentley reveals customisation options for £1.5m Mulliner Bacalar
Just 12 examples of the open-cockpit grand tourer will be made and are already allocated to customers
Rachel Burgess
News
5 mins read
3 April 2020

The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar spearheads a new era for the British car maker’s coachbuilding division, which will launch an ultra-exclusive model as often as every two years.

The £1.5 million Bacalar, an open-cockpit grand tourer, is limited to just 12 units, all of which have already been allocated to loyal customers.

The two-seat design is heavily inspired by the EXP 100 GT concept, which was revealed for Bentley’s centenary last year, with the two cars having been designed side by side.

Features echoing that concept include the single front lights, rather than the twin arrangement found on current-generation Bentley models, and the dark bronze brightwork. The strongest similarity is the dramatic rear end, including the blade design of the tail-lights.

The Bacalar was first revealed in early March, but Bentley has now released a set of six Bacalar specifications created by its design team to show the many possibilties available for the coach-built two-seater. 

Bentley head of colour and trim Maria Mulder said: "The six example specifications we have created each have their own personality and purpose, but what they share in common is that only Bacalar can reflect this level of personalisation and attention to detail."

The six are named: The Clerkenwell, the Menlo (pictured below), the Fulton, the Greenwich, the Brickell and the Randwick. (Scroll through the above gallery to see the rest.)

Talking more broadly about design, head of exterior design JP Gregory said: “This is the first modern coachbuilt Bentley Mulliner. A [coachbuilt] product is something that Bentley is quite famous for.

“The character of the Bacalar is inspired by the future of luxury mobility. We’re already starting to deliver on the vision we showed on the EXP 100 GT.”

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“The barchetta design throws the visual weight backwards. There’s a seamless flow between the interior and exterior.”

The interior references the Birkin Blower racing car of 1929, said Darren Day, head of interior design: “We were heavily focused on a wraparound cockpit, including behind the seats. This was designed from scratch: every little detail from the speakers to the knurling. I wanted to see something you couldn’t produce in a production car.”

Owners of the Bacalar can request a bespoke luggage set to fit behind the seats.

The only features carried over from more mainstream Bentleys are the door handles, because of the keyless entry, and the cap of the steering wheel, because of airbag functionality. Interior shapes familiar from other Bentley models include the dashboard and centre console buttons, but entirely new materials are used to set them apart.

These include 5500-year-old riverwood, naturally felled in Cambridge, and wool and tweed from the Scottish Borders. The dials and clock have a dark blue surface, intended to reflect the lake after which the car is named: Lake Bacalar in Mexico.

Bentley design director Stefan Sielaff said: “When we started to develop the Bacalar, we were still working on the EXP 100 GT. It’s a good experiment to do things differently. We almost don’t see any chrome or traditional materials. It’s a big step forward in a modern interpretation of what Bentley can be.”

The Bacalar uses Bentley’s famed 6.0-litre W12 powertrain to produce 650bhp. That’s 41bhp more than the standard W12 and peak torque is raised to 664lb ft. The car can achieve 0-60mph in 3.5sec and has a top speed of more than 200mph.

The Bacalar marks the beginning of a major drive for Mulliner, with the division’s boss, Tim Hannig, describing it as “one of the biggest untapped opportunities to satisfy customers”.

Hannig identifies three pillars of Mulliner: Mulliner Classic, Mulliner Collections and Mulliner Coachbuilt.

Mulliner Classic was kick-started last year with a 1939 Bentley Corniche recreation and news of a continuation series of the Birkin Blower. Mulliner Collections includes models such as the recently revealed Continental GT Mulliner Convertible. And Mulliner Coachbuilt includes the Bacalar, with more to come.

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Hannig said: “We have started to do coachbuilt models. Traditionally, Mulliner was always that. The Bacalar and the Blower are a pilot for us. There’s a real appetite [for these cars]. People say: ‘Why didn’t you do something like this earlier?’”

Of future coachbuilt models, Hannig said: “We will make sure we can maintain or increase the workforce. The Bacalar is about the sensation of driving. We might, at some point, do something which is about ultimate comfort. We didn’t want to be vulgar, and it’s not about being the fastest car out there.”

Sielaff added: “You can see the Bacalar on the road much quicker than a big production project. This will be the first of more to come. A modern coachbuild could happen frequently, but it will change depending on the number we build. If a customer wants one or two cars, the price would be higher, but we can do it. But 10 or 12 cars is the limit in terms of being able to do everything by hand, like with the Bacalar.”

Q&A: Stefan Sielaff, design director, Bentley

Why did you decide on this bodystyle for your first modern coachbuilt Mulliner?

“We could do anything: a shooting brake, a coupé… We wanted it to relate to the Blower as a typical British sports car. Have you ever seen a Blower with a roof? There’s something classically British about it: people drive here in summer and winter without a roof.”

What would you like to carry over to series production?

“The strong reduction [of lines] on the body and not having too many details on the exterior. Also, the treatment of material: making it more sustainable. And craftsmanship; that makes Bentley so special.”

Do your younger customers want something different from more traditional buyers?

“Younger customers have a completely different mindset. The attitude of status symbol isn’t so focused on bling bling. It’s a more modest way, in saying ‘we know what we have and we don’t need to show what we have’.”

This is the first time you’ve done a bronze Bentley badge…

“Yes, it’s always a risk to change the badge. It might upset some. But [at this level] if a customer wants chrome or black instead, that’s fine.”

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Comments
13

3 March 2020

It looks like 2 styling teams went to work, one doing the aggressive and fussy front half and another doing the relatively clean and elegant rear. Bentley's don't necessarily have to look elegant, but they should look graceful and stately. This is neither.

4 April 2020

The Bentley Bell-End.

3 March 2020

 Sorry Bentley, but this looks like an after market kit fitted to a Bentley, at best it's like a Car from a franchise superhero film, the front and rear look like two different cars welded together.

wmb

3 March 2020
Peter Cavellini wrote:

 Sorry Bentley, but this looks like an after market kit fitted to a Bentley, at best it's like a Car from a franchise superhero film, the front and rear look like two different cars welded together.

The concept car is beautiful, but this looks like Lamborghini version of a Bentley! Smh!

3 March 2020
Do Halfords offer to rip out the back seats, shorten the wheelbase and drop a new body on it? No? Thought not. Half-wit.

4 March 2020
Pietro Cavolonero wrote:

Do Halfords offer to rip out the back seats, shorten the wheelbase and drop a new body on it? No? Thought not. Half-wit.

To attack a fellow poster rather than put forward your side of the argument is lowest of the low.

3 March 2020

Don't like the bug-eyed hadlights.

But more worrying is the heavily pressed crease line over the rear wheelarches that first appeared in the Audi A6, then in the Seat Cupra Formentor, then in this. It looks fussy and over-designed, draws attantion to itself, and is becoming a VW group signature.

3 March 2020
Oh ye gads, it’s hideous.

Nice cabin trimmings though. I’d ask to specify those on a Conti drop top, and save about £1m or so.

3 March 2020
There is something about it that appeals (sorry)

4 March 2020

Let's for a moment ignore the generic rear, which is probably wise. The overall volumes are very Bentley, solid and upright, which makes it tough to draw a sleek-looking shape. The front lighting treatment is really interesting, I don't know if I like it but it's certainly different. I assume the intent is to somehow portray classic Big Bentley circular lights and pontoon front fenders. I'm going to wait until I see that front end before making up my mind, but I suspect the design community will be looking closely at it ASAP. 

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