As a kid, I read about a Rolls Royce ordered by an Indian Prince which had precious stones embedded in the dashboard. That was the level of customisation offered by companies wooing the super rich of the time. The rich buyers could get a car of their dream built exactly like they wanted thanks to the coachbuilders of the time who would present a model with different body styles. With mass production, the art of coachbuilding, but died.
Mulliner is a coachbuilder who refused to die and has been in business since, believe it or not, the 1500s. They have more than 500 year of coachbuilding experience and they are now working with Bentley to offer bespoke cars for the discerning few. Their first project was to build 12 Bentley Blowers from the 1920s under the Classic portfolio. Under their Collections portfolio they are offering customised mainstream cars from Bentley, while they are offering bespoke limited edition specially hand built cars under their Coachbuilt Portfolio. Inaugurating the Coachbuilt Portfolio is the Bacalar. A car named after the Laguna Bacalar, a lake in the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico which is known for its breath-taking natural beauty.
Bentley intends to build only 12 Bacalar, which are incidentally all sold out. The cars a pure open top two seat Grand Tourers. No, they are not convertibles. Mulliner and Bentley have gone ahead and allowed their customers to not only customise the colour and wood and seat leather, but also the external shape of the car. So, these are going to be the most exclusive cars from Bentley. The Bacalar is influenced by the EXP 100 GT concept car which was awarded ‘ The most beautiful concept car of the year’ by the prestigious French Festival Automobile International and ‘Concept Car of the Year’ by GQ magazine.
The Bacalar has a wraparound cockpit which seats two and a semi enclosed luggage space behind the seats which holds bespoke luggage designed and fitted by Schedoni of Italy. The luggage perfectly matches the trim and materials of the cabin. The interiors are trimmed in Wilton-woven pure wool deep pile carpets, while the seats are covered in the finest Beluga leather carefully sewn together with Bentley’s heritage semi-gloss leather and natural wool to create a dark ‘tone-on-tone’ character. The exterior paint is also made from material recycled from the rice husk. The pigment is synthetically-manufactured silicon dioxide platelet coated with iron oxide. This synthetic process uses rice husk ash, which is a by-product from the rice industry. It has created 90 per cent pure silicon dioxide and also reduced rice husk landfill waste.
The dashboard is trimmed in a special 5000 years old, yes its not a typo, river wood from naturally fallen trees. The trees have been preserved for 5,000 years in peat bogs, lakes and rivers found in the Fenlands of East Anglia, England. The wood has a dark black hue. It has been split in the middle to give a matte grainy feel on the upper half of the dashboard and a glossy piano black feel in the bottom part.
The interiors have a steeply raked center console which goes ahead an merges with other elements to provide a cocooned wraparound cockpit. The steering is shaped as a D and has alcantara inserts which are repeated on the gear lever also. The car has a modern feel inside with digital instrumentation. It also boasts of the famous rotating display of Bentley which has three options. One side has a high resolution touch screen with an MMI whose home screen can be customised by the owner to his liking. The second rotation brings in sight three screens for telephone, multi media and navigation while the third side has three, elegant analogue dials that display outside temperature, a compass and chronometer. The dash and the interior have bronze tones with titanium inserts to add to the luxury quotient.
The doors and fenders are made from carbon fiber while the rear clamshell and top deck of the Bacalar are crafted from lightweight aluminium. The car has a unique face influenced by the EXP 100 GT. The rear air dam and the bonnet appear to be hanging down from the grille. The rear has two inverted trapezoids placed one above the other. The upper portion holds the tail lamps while the lower portion has the name Bacalar inscribed across the bumper. The car has a wide and muscular stance and sits on 20 mm wider haunches at the rear when compared to the Continental GT. The headlamps are large ovals like the eyes and an eye lash streak of the DRL extending into the fender.
The Bacalar is not all show. It has serious go in the form of a 6.0 litre twin turbo charges W12 TSI engine producing 659 PS of power. The engine is mated to a sophisticated double clutch 8 speed gearbox. It has an adaptive chassis which uses Bentley’s intelligent, 48-volt Dynamic Ride System to ensure a responsive ride and exceptional handling and refinement in all conditions.