Since 2014, the bespoke projects and personal commissions department from Bentley, Mulliner, build 1,000 units.
Some people just walk into a car dealership and buy a car from the showroom floor, or from the inventory the dealer has in stock, while others go through the factory brochure and scrutinize the options list to put together the exact car they want to own, put in an order, and wait for ‘their’ car to arrive, which might take some time depending on the make and model.
However, once you get into the luxury car market, where makes like Mercedes, Audi, and BMW are present with their flagship models, those options lists get a lot more complicated, but it’s still a lot of fun to go through them and put together the car of your dreams … but there is still a select group of high-net-worth individuals that take it a step beyond that segment … they are shopping from a car from Rolls Royce or Bentley, and while the saying goes ‘you get driven in a Rolls Royce, but you drive a Bentley’, both makes are in the upper segment of the luxury car market.
With most makes, you have the choice of a multitude of colors for the body and interior but mostly limited to what they offer the customer, once you walk into the Bentley showroom things change considerably, the list of body colors is almost limitless, as it the list of options for the interior hides, stitching, and veneers … but that’s not even good enough for the most discerning clients … for those special customers Bentley inaugurated their Mulliner Design team in 2014.
And it seems customers were eagerly awaiting something like this, a way to create ‘their’ own Bentley, not just putting down a long list of ‘standard’ options on an order form, but a more personal way of actively designing their new car, Bentley expected an increase in the demand for bespoke and highly personalized cars, and over a period of 7 years the Mulliner Design team completed 1,000 very special cars.
The first Bentley to be created by the Mulliner Design team was the Flying Spur Serenity, a limited production series of 15 units that came with different seats and headrests compared to the regular Flying Spur, this was the model that introduced the unique diamond quilting and specifically textured leather we now see in the new Continental GT Mulliner.
The Bentley Mulliner Design team can take on just about any request a customer might come up with, with a bespoke door sill plate, over custom stitching, right up to a complete bespoke coachbuilding project, and while many of their 1,000 projects are one-off cars created for a specific customer, some are limited edition models, like the Bentley Continental GT’s that were inspired by the famous Breitling Jets aerial display team, a series of seven cars were color-matched to the aircraft that inspired them, all finished in black, silver and yellow.
If you take a look at the numbers again, it comes down to about 3 commissions per week for the Mulliner Design team, making clear just how popular a bespoke build has become of the last years, they are involved in all areas of the Mulliner department, from Classic to Coachbuilt, to Collections, this team sits on the cutting design edge of what Mulliner can deliver.
Personally, I really like the bright green Bentley Continental GT Pikes Peak edition that was created in 2019 to celebrate Bentley’s Production Car record at the Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, complete with a custom inlay on the dashboard showing the Pikes Peak run, and the record-setting time of 10:18.488, an amazing detail set on a clear carbon fiber background in front of the passenger.
And that’s another thing the Bentley Mulliner Design team can accomplish for you, don’t like wood veneer on the interior of your new Bentley? No problem, how about carbon fiber for that sporty look, or lacquered to match, or contrast with the interior? Not a problem at all … but what about real stone inlays inside your Bentley? No worries, the Mulliner Design team has you covered, first, they will make a stunning 3D render on how it will all look together with the upholstery and stitching pattern you selected, then they will source the stone of your liking and create the less than 1 mm thick inlays, just for you.
Not a real fan of smooth leather? Again, no problem at all for the artisans at the Mulliner Design team, you prefer Alcantara, they can do that easily, come to think about it, they can even use your very own, custom tweed design on the door panels, parts of the seats, even on the dashboard … in fact, there are only two limiting factors when it comes to creating bespoke builds through this team: your imagination … and the law, the car has to remain street-legal to drive in the end, so a glass steering wheel might not be possible.
Paul Williams, Director of Mulliner and Motorsport, comments: “Since 2014, our Mulliner Design team has averaged three customer commissions a week, showing just how popular bespoke Bentleys are becoming. The team, led by Design Manager Phill Dean, has worked on everything from Continental GT3 liveries all the way up to the specifications and details of the 12 cars of the Blower Continuation Series. The only thing all of those designs have in common is that they are for individual customers – apart from that, each one is as unique as the rest. The scope of what’s achievable with a standard production Bentley has now been brought to life by the team through the use of the dedicated Mulliner visualiser, which allows our customers to choose the colour and trim specifications of their cars with real-time photorealistic visualisation of the result. The co-creation process with Mulliner designers is now available to everyone.”
Just so you know, the Mulliner Design team not only works on bespoke commissions on cars, but they were also instrumental in the creation of the exquisite optional picnic hampers for the Bentayga, complete with refrigerator, bespoke fine china cutlery, crockery, and crystal glass, and storage area for dry goods. For comfort in the great outdoors, the hampers themselves could be removed and used as seats.