Bentley Mulliner Bacalar marks return to coachbuilding

Bentley Mulliner Bacalar marks return to coachbuilding

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Bentley has taken the wraps of the Mulliner Bacalar, its first two seater in decades. Just 12 of these will be built, each one of which has already been sold. The name comes from the Laguna Bacalar in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, a lake famous for its natural beauty. This is in keeping with Bentley’s strategy of taking famous landmarks, the first of which was the Bentayga launched in 2015.

The design is heavily influenced by the EXP 100 GT concept car revealed in 2019 to celebrate the winged B’s centenary. But while that car was powered by batteries, the Bacalar will be propelled by the firm’s 6.0-litre W12 engine making 650bhp. That being said Bentley does boast the car’s green credentials: “sustainable craftsmanship and ethically-sourced materials includes rice husk ash paint and 5,000-year-old Riverwood.” It goes on to say that it will be built in a carbon neutral factory, the world’s first for a luxury car.

The new car marks a return to coachbuilding for Bentley Mulliner as it announces its three-portfolio future: Classic, Collections, and Coachbuilt. Classic was introduced last year with the firm announcing that the 1929 Team Blower will be reborn with 12 supercharged 4½-litre cars to be built. Bentley Mulliner Collections will focus on bespoke derivatives of the main Bentley line-up.

But it’s the Coachbuilt arm that is the most exciting with the Bacalar being its first product. In addition to being tailored to each customer, it shares no body panel with any other Bentley model except for the Continental GT’s door handles.

But that’s where the family resemblance ends. The new car sits wider than the Continental GT with bespoke 22-inch wheels. Even the position of the Bentley badge on the rear deck is unique to this car.

Despite there being only 12, no two Bacalars will be alike. This is because Bentley will allow individual customers to further personalise their car, ranging from rare paint options, exterior treatments, and design themes.

Bentley’s Mulliner can trace its roots to the 1500s with the company being originally founded as a saddler. In the 1760s it refocused its business on coachbuilding, rising to prominence when it was commissioned to build and maintain carriages for Royal Mail. This makes among the oldest surviving coachbuilders in the world and it makes the Bacalar “the culmination of almost 500 years of expertise and heritage in the art of vehicle design.” When the car was invented in the late 19th century, Mulliner stepped away from horse-drawn carriages. It would become known for bespoke Bentleys before eventually becoming a part of the company in 1959, much like AMG for Mercedes.

And just as AMG has since been given free reign to create its unique cars, we expect to see more Mulliner exclusives unlike anything else in the Bentley portfolio. 

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