Bentley will be returning to Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace this month with a trio of world debuts for Bentley Mulliner, unveiling three beautifully handcrafted cars.
Bentley Mulliner is the car company’s in-house bespoke and personal commissioning division and operates a trio of portfolios to deliver exceptional craftsmanship across the Bentley model range. All three portfolios will be represented together for the first time at this year’s Salon Privé, which will include the unveiling of new member of the Mulliner Collections family, along with the public debut for the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar and a post-restoration debut for one of the most famous Bentleys in history.
Mulliner was founded back in the 1500s as a saddler, and their tradition of bespoke craftsmanship has been passed down from generation to generation, making it the oldest coachbuilder in the world. Then in the 1760s, the Mulliner family business turned their attention to coachbuilding and rose to prominence when they were commissioned to build and maintain carriages for the Royal Mail. Later, with the arrival of the motor car, the company moved away from horse-drawn carriages and focussed on coachbuilding for mechanical propulsion and have continued to do so right to the current day. The company crafted a bespoke, 3-litre, two-seater Bentley for the 1923 Olympia Show in London which created a bond between the two companies and Mulliner went on to body over 240 Bentley chassis in the 1920s alone, becoming renowned as the very best of the new coachbuilding firms.
It was in 1959 that Mulliner cemented its partnership with Bentley by becoming part of the business and later moved into the old engineering experimental department at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, where they have remained ever since. Today Mulliner employs around 40 skilled specialists.
The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, pictured here, will be making its public debut at Salon Privé this month. This is without doubt the rarest two-door Bentley of the modern era, and the ultimate two-seat, open-air luxury Grand Tourer and spearheads a return to coachbuilding by Bentley Mulliner. Just 12 examples of the striking Bacalar will be created, guaranteeing its rarity and exclusivity. Each car will be handcrafted in Bentley Mulliner’s workshop in Crewe, personalised to each individual customer’s tastes and is the first car to be created as part of Bentley Mulliner’s new Coachbuilt portfolio.
As you can see from the pictures, the roofless Barchetta design has all-new and highly muscular coachwork, embracing a myriad of options and materials that will make each Bacalar completely unique and needless to say all examples of the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar have already been allocated to customers eager to get their hands on one.
The Bentley Mulliner Classic offering was introduced last year with the announcement at Salon Privé that Bentley’s 1929 Team Blower was to be reborn with a new build of 12 supercharged 4½-litre examples of this iconic classic car. Each car will be individually handcrafted by a team of specialists from Bentley Mulliner and will form the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series.
The third branch of the business is Bentley Mulliner Collections, which will continue to offer customers luxury derivatives of the core Bentley range, such as the new Continental GT Mulliner Convertible pictured here. Customers can personalise their Bentley with an expansive number of options, from unique colour-matched paint, hide and thread combinations, to bespoke feature content. The Collections portfolio will be represented by a new model at this month’s Salon Privé.
Salon Privé Director David Bagley said: “We are very proud to be hosting so many hugely significant world debuts this year, and we’re honoured that Bentley has chosen the magnificent surroundings of Blenheim Palace in which to introduce the very latest members of its exclusive Bentley Mulliner portfolios. With Salon Privé being renowned for quality and luxury, it’s the perfect fit, and the procession of cars arriving at the Palace should be a fabulous sight.”
Tickets for this year’s Salon Privé, which takes place between 22nd and 26th September 2020 are available at www.salonpriveconcours.com or by calling the Ticket Hotline on 0808 100 2205.
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man Behind The Wheel, a member of The Guild of Motoring Writers, professional photographer and former saloon car racing driver.
Photographs courtesy of Bentley Motors