Archive for Bentley Mulsanne

Bentley Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Extreme Luxury, Notorious with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2016 by 99MilesPerHour

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The iconic Bentley motorcar needs no dramatic rhetorical preface. It’s the ultra-luxury saloon for the enthusiast or connoisseur who desires to maintain a low profile. Each is a highly bespoke automotive masterpiece. The elite Bentley Mulsanne is the company flagship designed for discerning clientele that demands high-performance without sacrificing luxury. So…what about the aristocrat that wants even more? Enter stage right…Mulsanne Grand Limousine. This contemporary coachbuilt saloon is Bentley’s magnum opus –

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Bespoke…is Bentley, the two are synonymous. This is why one will never see two exactly alike. Natural materials and the skill of the coachbuilder yields a superlative among superlatives. Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house personal commissioning division works with the client to create a motorcar of distinction that is as unique as one’s own fingerprints.

The Mulsanne Grand Limousine is handbuilt by Mulliner in the grand tradition of this eminent coachbuilder. Unlike traditional “stretch” conversions, Mulliner designed the Grand Limousine to preserve the Mulsanne’s aesthetic purity. This is the longest manufacturer-built limousine in the world. Here’s another one-up for “Big Ben” against you-know-who…

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This resplendent custom crafted limousine retains its beauty as a Mulsanne saloon. Its added dimensions are cleverly built into the architecture. The 39.4” extension to the Mulsanne’s length is discretely added into the bodyshell using a custom crafted panel at the “B” pillars. The rear doors are enlarged to accommodate easier entry and exit to the passenger cabin.

Headroom has been increased by a 3.1” addition into the roof structure. The long, low, sweeping silhouette of the Mulsanne adapted beautifully to the transformation. Nothing appears added-on or out-of-place. The achievement of Mulliner’s coachcrafting makes the Mulsanne Grand Limousine look balanced and well-proportioned with poised dignity from any angle.

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Technology unobtrusively makes itself available to the posh rear passenger suite. The elegant inner world of the Mulsanne Grand Limousine spans beyond polished metal, supple hides, and hand finished veneers. There are many bespoke digital features to bring all the amenities of home to this very special saloon. There’s an intercom system to communicate with the driver. A unique electrochromic “Smart Glass” partition separating the rear suite from the driver’s compartment converts from transparent to opaque at the touch of a button.

The HVAC heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system designed and built by Mulliner enables each rear seat occupant to control their own temperature setting. With the highly bespoke nature of this distinguished saloon, there are myriad on-board computer and communication configurations available to fashion a rolling boardroom for the executive who must work while traveling.

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As far as comfort and convenience…the rear passenger suite houses four of the most desirable seats in the entire industry. The Mulsanne Grand Limousine rivals the luxury of a guest suite at the Burj Al Arab – the rear suite evokes serenity from the outside world with the richness of materials, contrast of color, and harmony of surfaces to provide tactile and visual stimulation. Ultra-exclusive aviation-inspired seating allows passengers to converse face to face. Each lounge seat is electrically controlled to adjust to each occupant’s desired setting; they are also heated and cooled.

There are crystal flutes and a wine bottle cooler located between the front facing seats. Between the rear facing seats is a soft drink cabinet with bespoke crystal tumblers. Mulliner Coachbuilders offers the exercise of choice. This decadently luxurious new offering is available to suit its owner. In order to create a new benchmark for the brand, Mulliner widened choices to infinity making the process of commissioning a most rewarding experience…just as Henry Jervis Mulliner (1870-1967), founder of the esteemed coachbuilding firm, intended it to be –

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The Mulsanne Grand Limousine is powered as no other limousine on the road today. Mulliner re-engineered the powertrain, transmission, chassis, and suspension to accommodate the longest ultra-luxury manufacturer-built saloon in the world. The formidable 6.8 litre aluminium twin-turbocharged V8 engine produces 530 hp with an astounding 1,100 Nm of peak torque to move this magnificent motorcar with aplomb. The chassis and suspension components are refined to withstand the added weight and high torque output of the high performance powerplant.

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The Mulliner coachbuilt Mulsanne Grand Limousine is a splendid highly bespoke motorcar. The pleasure of owning such a magnificent example of Mulliner automotive art is reveling in the fact that no other ultra-luxury saloon on the planet will ever be exactly the same…not even another Mulsanne Grand Limousine. For decades, Bentley is renowned for engineering and design excellence, exemplary craftsmanship, and quality led by a visionary approach.

These are the qualities one is entitled to expect of a Bentley motorcar. From the iconic flying “B” mascot engraved with the words “Coachbuilt by Mulliner” through the extraordinary coachcrafted bodywork…the Mulsanne Grand Limousine is the epitome of grandeur and elegance escalating the Bentley brand to new heights in exclusivity and supremacy in ultra-luxury motoring…a new era has begun –

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media

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2002 Bentley State Limousine for Queen Elizabeth II

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Welcome to Greg’s World of NotoriousLuxury…

Bentley: The Legend of Big Ben

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Exotic Exotics with tags , , , , , , , , on November 11, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

The legend of Big Ben continues

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From rags to riches describes the Bentley brand. The story reads as though it was a soap opera. Bentley, a once formidable thoroughbred was purchased and the brand was forced into a virtual subservience. The legend of Big Ben continues. While the snooty Rolls Royce rode off on its high horse…Big Ben was left cleaning the stables. It’s a classic fairy tale; Cinderfella suffered numerous indignities but managed to land on his feet. Not many are aware of his plight.

Did you ever wonder how the formidable Bentley brand ended up wearing hand-me-down architecture from “you-know-who?” It’s more of a tear-jerker than “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.” There’s more drama than “The Valley of the Dolls.” It has more suspense than “The Stepford Wives.” It seems…Rolls Royce was the “Perfect Stranger…” Rolls Royce isn’t the Flo Ziegfeld of the auto industry as you may have thought – And now, here’s the true story of how Big Ben became the bastard at the Rolls Royce family reunion…

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Once upon a time in a town called Cricklewood near London in the UK there lived a man whose vision led him to build some of the fastest and most durable cars in the land. His name is Walter Owen Bentley who simply went by W.O. He always wanted to design and build his own range of automobiles that would bear his name. W.O. was in partnership with his brother Horace Milner Bentley selling French DFP automobiles. It was a trip to the DFP factory in 1913 when W.O. glanced at an aluminium paper weight and had a brainstorm of crafting internal engine pistons out of this lightweight material instead of cast iron. The first Bentley aluminium pistons were installed in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel during WWI.

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On August in 1919, Bentley Motors LTD was registered. Ex-Royal Flying Corps, Officer Clive Gallop designed a 4-valve per cylinder engine, and a running version of W.O.’s Bentley became reality by December of 1919. The company began taking orders for the cars delivery for June 1920. Their development took a tad bit longer and weren’t ready until September 1921. These vehicles were so awesome that their durability earned widespread acclaim. The Bentley began making its debut at such places as the tracks at the famous Brooklands.

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The NOTORIOUS Bentley’s first major event was the Indy 500 in 1922. The car finished in 13th place with an average speed of 75 mph. But it gets better…let’s fast forward to 1925. Enter the famous Bentley Boys! They were a group of wealthy British motorists that demonstrated the prowess of W.O. Bentley and his cars. One of the group, Woolf Barnato got a 3.0 litre Bentley in 1925 and began winning numerous races at Brooklands.

Bentley Motors LTD had become struggling financially. Influenced by the 1924 LeMans win by Bentley Boys John Duff and Frank Clement, Woolf Barnato agreed to finance the company. He invested a little more than 100,000 pounds into the company with a financial reorganization carried out, gaining control of the entity thus becoming the CEO in the process. With subsequent financial injections into the company in 1927, 1928, and 1929, W.O. was able to design the next generation of Bentley automobiles.

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The Bentley Boys continued to exploit the Bentley’s indomitable spirit and durability. Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, George Duller, aviator Glen Kidston, automobile journalist S.C.H. “Sammy Davis, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield are the Bentley Boys that brought the Bentley brand into formidable high-performance notoriety. These spirited and talented young men had a zest for life garnering four consecutive wins at LeMans from 1927 until 1930. Kudos to Tim Birkin for developing the light weight “Bentley Blower” in 1929; however, this car was raced before W.O. had a chance to perfect it. Its refinement was positively executed to make the Bentley Blower a formidable opponent.

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Here is the illustrious timeline for Big Ben during his infancy: from 1921-1929 it was the heyday for the trusty 3.0 litre, from 1926-1930 the larger 4.5 litre and the Bentley Blower were the stars, 1926-1930 the 6.5 litre, it was 1928-1930 the 6.5 litre Speed Six took the roads by storm, 1930-1931 the 8.0 litre roamed the tracks, and in 1931 it was the 4.0 litre on the prowl. The 3.0 litre was the original but displacement had to be increased to accommodate the larger bodies installed on the chassis. The most notable from that genre was the 4.5 litre Bentley Blower with its supercharger peeking forward at the bottom of its grille.

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“Tiger” Tim Birkin

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The 4.5 litre was popular in the media. It was used in early James Bond novels before the films. The quintessential “bad boy” John Steed (Patrick McNee) drove one of these in the cult British detective series “The Avengers” in the 1960s.

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Another famous race from the early years was The Blue Train Races. Woolf Barnato wagered  £100 that he could beat “Le Train Bleu” which was going to travel from Cannes to Calais in France, and be sitting at his club in London before the train could reach Calais. He and his Mulliner-bodied Bentley battled inclement weather; uneven pavement, public highways…even blowing out a tire having to use his only spare, but managed to get to a packet steamer to take him to Dover England. Woolf was sitting at his favorite club on prestigious St. James Street in London just as Le Train Bleu pulled into the station at Calais – proving how swift the Bentley was and verifying the notorious reliability of this eminent grand tourer.

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The Great Depression and The Wall Street Crash of 1929 presented a challenge for the brand. People weren’t purchasing luxury items because self-preservation was more important. In 1931 on a fatal day in July, Woolf Barnato defaulted on two mortgage payments. Bentley Motors LTD went into receivership. According to The Times, dated Saturday, October 24, 1931… Napier & Son, aero builders, had reached an agreement to take over Bentley Motors LTD which was in voluntary liquidation…

The plot thickens 

Napier & Son worked an agreeable deal with the receiver to purchase the company. The final deal was to close in November of 1931…when out of nowhere, a competitor by the name of British Central Equitable Trust swooped in like vultures with a counter proposal which out-bid Napier in a sealed bid auction. Are you ready for the shocker? One guess who British Central Equitable Trust is? They were a front for Rolls Royce Limited who purchased the brand for a sum of £125,000! With that apparent shock and that being said, Woolf Barnato received £42,000 for his shares in Bentley Motors LTD. He had already purchased a sizable stake in Rolls Royce not long before the Bentley Motors LTD liquidation. By 1934 Barnato was appointed to the board of the new Bentley Motors Limited.

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Oh what a tangled web we weave… 

The total obliteration of Bentley Motors LTD and its founder was the outcome of a highly personal vendetta involving W.O. Bentley and Ernest Hives. The two engineers had a rivalry that began when W.O. was the official liaison between the Government and aero engine manufacturers. And add the fact that Woolf Barnato had already purchased shares in Rolls Royce – the entity that would eventually buy the Bentley brand – and his ‘default’ on the crucial mortgage payments that sent the brand spiraling into financial doom. Rolls Royce acquired Bentley using an entity by the name of British Central Equitable Trust. W.O. himself, didn’t know the identity of this organization until the deal was finalized…

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The new Bentley Motors LTD (1931) was formed. The Cricklewood factory was closed and sold with production of the Bentley brand ceased for two years. W.O. was unhappy with his position at Rolls Royce. He left when his contract expired at the end of April in 1935; he resigned to join Lagonda, a British luxury car marque that was established in 1906. The connivery and deceit combined with W.O.’s financial situation resulted in one of the greatest thoroughbreds ever, to be stifled and silenced.

All Bentleys from 1931 until 2004 wore hand-me-down architecture; therefore, they were merely badge engineered Rolls Royces. The Bentley gave the Phantom a run for its money in the 1930s…Rolls Royce took advantage of economics and the financial limitations of W.O. Bentley to gain control of the entity. I truly believe that if W.O. had been more cost conscious and he had found better financial backing, the Bentley would have been equally as exclusive, if not more than Rolls Royce.

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A rude awakening… 

We now fast-forward to contemporary issues. The Bentley brand had sales fallen badly during the 1970s and early 1980s. Less than 5 percent of Rolls Royce Motors Limited carried the Bentley badge. Vickers plc purchased Rolls Royce in 1980. Under Vickers, the Bentley now regained its high-performance heritage with the introduction of the Bentley Mulsanne for 1981. The sporting image stirred a renewed interest in the Bentley brand. By 1986, Big Ben reached 40 percent of the Bentley/Rolls Royce, 40/60 percent production totals.

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In 1997, Vickers decided to sell Rolls Royce Motors. This instigated a back-biting brawl between Volkswagen AG and BMW AG. BMW had provided the engines; the V8 for the Bentley Arnage and the V12 for the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph beginning the 1998 model year. After a tumultuous and highly publicized battle both reached an amicable agreement, VW had control of the Bentley brand and BMW had control of the Rolls Royce brand. The most mind-boggling aspect of this was the fact that Volkswagen AG built both Rolls Royce and Bentley automobiles from 1997 until 2002 with the end of production for the Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. 

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“Just in fun…the fight begun – before long a web of hate was spun…Rolls Royce pretended…same with Bentley…but friends again they’d never be – so they scandalized…and criticized and soon they learned how to despise…”

From 2003 forward, Volkswagen AG maintained the Bentley brand, while still building the Arnage as the Flagship until 2010 when they introduced the Mulsanne to give the Rolls Royce stiff competition in the ultra-luxury car segment. BMW launched the new Rolls Royce Phantom in 2003 under the new legal entity of Rolls Royce Motor Cars Limited. RR constructed a new facility in Goodwood, West Sussex, in England where the new Rolls Royce models would be built. Bentley under Volkswagen AG retained the Crewe facility. VW spent over $845 million dollars to renovate the facility to process the new generation of Bentley motorcars and to increase the production capacity.

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Now, fast-forward to the present day. Big Ben landed on his feet quite well. The brand now has an interesting array of models from which to choose. The Mulsanne is the most sumptuous Bentley in the model hierarchy. It remains the Flagship and is giving the Rolls Royce fierce competition just as it did back in the 1930s. In fact, many believe that Volkswagen AG got the better deal retaining the Bentley brand because it sells twice as many cars as Rolls Royce.

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The Bentley brand has a comprehensive array of automobiles. It has a car for every enthusiast. The ferocious Bentley Continental is just as formidable as it was at one time. The Continental Supersports ISR set a record as the fastest production cabrio on ice in the world. Bentley has infiltrated the motorsport arena as well. Under the leadership of Volkswagen AG, the Bentley brand received new life. Its dignity has been revived, its performance is once again formidable…it retained its high revs at low rpm status as a Bentley hallmark. The venerable brand has regained its stature in the automotive world. Rolls Royce is no longer throwing it shade. The two brands are once again rivals and share a rare arena where other brands dare to venture…

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2015 Bentley Continental GT Speed

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Walter Owen Bentley had a vision. His emphasis was on precision hand-crafting that involved exemplary fit and finish. The use of aluminium in key automotive components was his brain child and quickly spread throughout the auto industry. The extremely lightweight material dominates the contemporary Bentley models. W.O. left an indelible impression upon the industry. His valuable insight developed principles of which today’s Bentley is built upon. 

Excellence without compromise, impeccable craftsmanship, and engineering with cutting-edge technology makes Big Ben an omnipotent presence in the ultra-luxury automobile arena. It is out from under the imperious shadow of “you-know-who” and has become synonymous with the good life. W.O. would be proud to see the results of his genius. Big Ben survived the connivery and deceit, not to mention The Great Depression to become one of the world’s foremost automotive brands. NotoriousLuxury salutes Big Ben…long may he reign and the brand lived happily ever after giving Rolls Royce “the blues…”

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The limited edition 2009 Bentley Brooklands

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Bentley enters the world of motorsports

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Extremely rare Bentley Mulsanne L 1984-1985 only 2 were built

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Photos courtesy Bentley Media

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Special thanks to Daniel Schmitt

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The only Bentley badged Camargue in existence

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Special thanks to Balmoral UK

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Special thanks to Park Ward Motors Museum

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The legend of Big Ben will continue…

Birkin Edition Bentley Mulsanne

Posted in Bentley, Exotic Exotics, Grande Marque with tags , , , , , , on July 15, 2014 by 99MilesPerHour

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The celebrated Bentley Boys of the 1920s helped to pave the way for today’s Bentley. They were a group of wealthy British automotive enthusiasts…adventurous, forward-thinking, and dedicated. They were all about serious automotive performance to the extremes. Two things that were foremost to car buyers in the 1920s were speed and reliability. Bentleys are notoriously blowing right past the competition.

It was the indomitable spirit of Sir Henry Ralph Stanley “Tim” Birkin…3rd Baronet of Ruddington Grange…aka Tim Birkin and his lust for speed spawned the fabled Bentley 242 hp “Blower.” Tim Birkin’s courage and fearless driving reflected the true spirit of the vintage racing era. “Tiger Tim” epitomized the British gentleman racer. He traveled and raced extensively about Europe during the 1920s and 1930s. For the European market exclusively, The “Birkin Mulsanne” was created as homage to one of Bentley’s most influential visionaries.

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Tim Birkin and the 4 1/2 litre, LeMans 1930

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For the 2014 model year the Limited Edition Birkin Mulsanne was built at a restricted pace of 22 vehicles made exclusive for the European markets. The availability is limited to three color specifications: Ghost White, Damson, and classic duo-tone Fountain Blue/Dark Sapphire Bentley paint design.

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The Birkin Mulsanne specifications were inspired from the idea of how Birkin would commission today’s Bentley. With the Mulsanne’s effortless performance and luxuriously hand-crafted cabin, it embodies Birkin’s beliefs as a motoring connoisseur.

The Bentley Mulsanne is everything that makes a Bentley a world-class luxury performance saloon. The same legendary performance is shared with its illustrious heritage. The Bentley Mulsanne is a modern-day thoroughbred built in the same tradition of excellence. The silent motorcar continues…

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The Bentley Mulsanne is a machine designed to fit the needs of today’s discerning driver. A first time Bentley buyer gets a kick out of one in standard form. After that…he has become a “club member” and now perhaps wants something different and more exotic and exclusive.

This is where the Birkin Mulsanne would fit the bill…and there will only be 22 of them in existence…only in Europe. Automobiles such as these are market-specific which is a growing ultra-luxury/supercar trend. Rare examples of exemplary magnitude minted in such low numbers creates an instant collectible destined to become a museum piece.

Examples of this ultra-exclusivity are: The Aston Martin One-77 built at the restricted pace of 77 vehicles…the Lamborghini Aventador “J” being the only vehicle in existence sold for $2.8 Million USD…and Bugatti with their “Les Légendes de Bugatti” six-part release of a mere three vehicles per release for the formidable Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse…they are all contributing to the priceless collectibles that they all will eventually become.

And who could be more outrageous than Automobili Lamborghini…and what rolls off the assembly line at Saint’ Agata Bolognese…The Egoista for example, better still…the Lamborghini Veneno was built at a restricted pace of three vehicles to celebrate Lambo’s 50th Anniversary at a cost of 3.12 Million Euros each. Car zero was retained for the Lamborghini Museum.

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Tim Birkin at the Pontilieue hairpin turn LeMans 1926

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The artisans at HJ Mulliner/Park Ward studios of London had always remained a superlative in the elite custom coachbuilding segment. It was Mulliner Park Ward that hand-crafted the Rolls Royce Corniche. They have refined some of the world’s most expensive automobiles into priceless collectibles with expertise spanning many decades.

Mulliner has collaborated with both Rolls Royce and Bentley Motor Cars since their humble beginnings many decades ago. Mulliner is solely an in-house design studio exclusively for the Bentley Brand. Mulliner Specifications create highly bespoke designs where no two cars will ever be alike. Mulliner creates rolling works of art with their meticulous fit & finish and extreme attention to detail.

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Tim Birkin LeMans 1930

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The Birkin Edition of the Mulsanne saloon include the Mulliner Driving Specification that transforms the Mulsanne into a Grand Touring Bentley with coachbuilt elegance and hand-crafted luxury. Performance…as in the awesome jaw-dropping type that was never before associated with a large luxury saloon such as this is just a tap of the accelerator pedal away. The Mulliner Driving Specification is for the driver requiring a sporting character without compromising luxury. The Birkin Edition is a highly distinctive and sporting interpretation of Bentley’s Flagship saloon.

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The Mulliner Driving Specification enhances the already refined suspension. The Drive Dynamics Control System allows suspension and steering systems to be fine-tuned to a preferred driving style, it is activated by the unique “Sport” setting which provides enhanced grip, body control, and steering accuracy without compromising luxury motoring.

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The Mulliner Driving Specification has a unique design language that underscores the Mulsanne’s sporting nature which defines it exclusively from other Bentleys. The bespoke cabin of the Birkin Mulsanne features unique leather trim. Bentley is the only luxury brand that uses a fully leather trimmed interior. Even the headlining is indented-leather. The hides on the seats and door panels feature an intricate Diamond Quilted pattern.

A patent Mulliner bespoke process produces perforations in exact diamond shapes with non-perforated tram lines in between. The cabin is highlighted by knurled metalwork. Other signature features include numbered door sill plates, unique 3-D Flying “B” logos hand-stitched to the headrests and inlaid into the wood of the front fascia and rear seat folding tables. The custom tailored luggage set is hand-crafted, individually numbered and matched to the interior. The warmth of mirror-matched veneers graces the elegant cabin that is as luxurious as it is sporting…

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The Birkin Mulsanne includes the Entertainment Specification. The rear compartment comes equipped with the latest multi-media technology. Two 8” LCD monitors are integrated into the rear of the front seat headrests. A Naim for Bentley audio system and iPad work stations are integrated into the hand-crafted solid wood folding tables. The system may be refined for entertainment with a DVD player, Wi-Fi hotspot, or completely bespoke. Or, it can be equipped as a rolling executive board room complete with communication systems, hard drive, and more.

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The Birkin Mulsanne is powered by the alloy 6.75 litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. This lightweight powerplant produces an astounding 505 hp @ 4,200 rpm packing a prolific punch with 1,020 Nm of peak torque @ 1,750 rpm…high-revs at low rpm is a Bentley hallmark. It is equipped with port injection, twin parallel turbochargers, and indirect intercooling. The engine is mated to a ZF 8HP90 8-speed automatic transmission with manual paddle shift mode.

This thoroughbred sprints from 0-60 mph in 4.9 seconds, 0-100 mph in 12 seconds, with a top speed of 185 mph. It can do the ¼ mile @ 106 mph in 13.4 seconds. The beauty of the Mulsanne is the fact that it cruises around on four of its eight cylinders under low speeds and light loads. Who would ever have thought that it would be the “unexpected economy car?” Tim Birkin would be impressed with today’s Bentley Mulsanne.

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Bentley is dedicated to building as fine a car as human ingenuity can achieve. At the heart of the company’s approach  is to build motorcars that require the best that can be created. Bentley engineers and artisans believe there is only one way…the right way to do every job.

Strikingly individual cars are aerodynamically designed for today yet reflects a timeless beauty. From the days of the formidable Bentley Boys, the brand has been all about performance and engineering excellence. And now that Bentley is out of the imperious shadow of “you know who” it can be the Grande Marque that it was before it was stifled and neutered by the luxury bulldozer.

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Tiger Tim Birkin

Tiger-Tim Birkin was one of Bentley’s most influential visionaries. It was his courage and fearless driving that reflected the spirit of vintage racing. Tim Birkin was a key influence for the Bentley Blower. The Bentley Birkin Edition Mulsanne was created to honor this exemplary persona and only 22 will exist exclusively for the European market. The Bentley Mulsanne is a powerful and luxurious manner in which to travel…

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Tim would be proud of the contemporary Bentley

The Showdown: Rolls Royce Phantom vs Bentley Mulsanne

Posted in Bentley, Editorials, Notorious, Rolls Royce with tags , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2013 by 99MilesPerHour

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The Showdown: Rolls Royce Phantom vs the Bentley Mulsanne

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…….Good….better….best….never let it rest, til the good’s better and better’s best! This is a showdown between the Big Boys. The indomitable icons of the formidable ultra-luxury land yacht class…….superlatives of superlatives….how dare I? I love them both. These began their existence as two separate cars, and then were merged when Rolls Royce purchased Bentley. So the Bentley brand was always the ‘super-charged’ Rolls Royce for the owner/driver that wanted to maintain a lower profile without the sacrifice of luxury or performance.

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Then there came that bitter battle between BMW and The VW Group…..a mud-slinging, back biting brawl in the street it was! The hilarious part was that they both had equal rights to each others trademarks but lacked the authority to use the brand name, for instance, Bentley had rights to “The Spirit of Ecstasy” but lacked the authority to use the name therefore they could not use it. Rolls Royce had rights to the Bentley “Flying-B” etc but could not use the name…..to solve the fight, after a reasonable hour or two in the “time-out room”, BMW purchased all rights to the Rolls Royce brand and The Volkswagen Group purchased all rights to the Bentley brand…….oops, VW had to rely on BMW for engines for a while!

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…..the beat goes on….so BMW gives VW a certain amount of time to engineer their version of the car’s engine with just a year’s notice to withdraw their supply……which gave birth to VW’s formidable W12! It is like the Hatfield’s & the McCoy’s with luxury dream cars! So now, after growing up with Rolls Royce & Bentley as stablemates…….now, they are fierce competitors, so who is King of the Hill?

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I thought I would put them side by side and let YOU be the judge. I have to remain neutral because I love them both dearly and it cut to the quick to see them separated. But it is a new Century with a new view of the world-class luxury car segment. With all that said, here is the story of the magnificently designed and engineered Rolls Royce Phantom

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and the ultra-elegant equally as magnificent Bentley Mulsanne together as competitors. Here is the First strike against Bentley…..I had to use the standard wheelbase version of the Rolls Royce Phantom for this comparison, it is taking Mulliner way too long to come out with an EWB version of their Mulsanne. Naughty!

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Bayerische Motoren Werk AG gave the Rolls Royce new grace and dignity while retaining the formidable reputation as the most desired luxury saloon in the world………giving the legend a ferocious V12 engine, the car is known as the automobile that “does everything better.” From the “Spirit of Ecstasy” adorning the classic Parthenon inspired grille to the seemingly endless rake of aluminium architecture, this is every inch a Rolls Royce.

But then,The VW Group retained the eminent Mulliner Custom Coach Builder as an in-house department, which escalated the bespoke nature of the Bentley Mulsanne to a truly enigmatic experience with each car produced as a one of a kind masterpiece. Not as easy as you thought huh? Which one is better? I shall continue……

To quote each Manufacturer:

“We are Bentley Motors – the definitive British luxury car company, dedicated to developing and crafting the world’s most desirable high performance cars.”

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“Creating a grand new Bentley is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We have a heritage and a style that is unique. As a designer, I look for those classic shapes, those British proportions, with no hard lines…that sense of graceful elegance you’d expect in a hand crafted car from Crewe. But make no mistake; this will be a supremely potent driver’s car with modern technology hidden under the skin. Power with refinement….Then again, a pure Bentley is a fusion of extremes.”

……..Ashley Wickham, Project Leader at Bentley Crewe

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“From launch in 2003, the Rolls-Royce Phantom established itself as the benchmark in automotive luxury, a reputation it has held ever since,” said Torsten Müller-Ötvös, CEO of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. “These cars are timeless in their appeal, but technology moves rapidly and we cannot afford to stand still.

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The Phantom is a family of models that feature significant improvements in design, drive-train and technology. As a consequence of these changes, we will continue to present with pride the best motor cars in the world, which re-confirm Rolls-Royce’s position at the very pinnacle of the ultra-luxury goods marketplace.”

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Each automobile is a refined work of contemporary rolling art. Quality with design all the way thru production, and meticulous craftsmanship in its exemplary form is exhibited with both Phantom and Mulsanne. Each has its own unique existence of the ultra-exclusive market segment niche it helped to create.

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No two Rolls Royces are ever alike. This is a truly bespoke vehicle that reflects the owner’s good taste with the numerous configurations available.  Either a four seat or a five seat interior can be requested along with an electric division for privacy.

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New driver assisted technologies are introduced with a modern user interface and a redesigned multi media controller. A new satellite navigation system was fully updated with 3D maps, landscape topography, guided tours with enhanced points of interest, as well as composite route planning. Information, maps and video content are displayed on 8” control center monitor with programmable book marks for key functions for the driver.

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Rolls Royce was the first to include full LED headlamps as standard on a production car. They deliver a whiter light augmenting safety while preventing driver tiredness. Their unique Curve light functionality uses electronically controlled reflectors to focus headlamp beams in the direction of travel providing greater illumination of the road ahead when cornering. Adaptive headlamps change the cone of light projected onto the road in response to driving speed.

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The Bentley Mulsanne saloon is a contemporary work of art. It’s steel and aluminium monocoque structure has energy absorbing front and rear crumple zones which accordion at a controlled rate upon impact. This beautiful aerodynamic envelope’s bonnet, boot, doors, and front wings are made by the ‘Superform Process’ where a sheet of aluminium is heated, then forced into or onto a single surface tool that creates complex three dimension shapes out of a single sheet, thus, eliminating the need for body seams and welds.

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Even the rear window, was designed into the body work through Bentley’s process of ‘hand brazing’ that produces perfect joins around the curves.

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The power for Bentley comes from redesigning the notoriously reliable 6.75 litre V8 engine. It is twin turbocharged and crafted from light weight alloys with an upgrade in technology. Cam phasing and variable displacement expedites the advanced technology. The engine’s intake valves are electronically adjusted to improve breathing, while closing four of the eight cylinders at cruising speeds. Bentley is the first of the ultra-luxury brands to use variable displacement. These features combined with its wind cheating design greatly improve fuel economy.

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The power for Rolls Royce comes from a direct injection 6.75 litre alloy V12 engine producing 453 bhp @ 5,350 rpm with 531 lb-ft @ 3,500 rpm peak torque. It is mated to a new eight-speed ZF transmission that changes gears almost silently and imperceptibly.

HOWEVER, the Bentley Mulsanne is the more spirited of the two and is the preferred driving enthusiast’s Grand Tourer. The Mulsanne’s 6.75 litre V8 delivers 505 bhp @ 4,200 rpm with 752 lb-ft @1,750 rpm peak torque……but then, the Bentley has always been the “performer” of the two hasn’t it? Therefore, we can’t really hold that against the Phantom, because it is more stately and dignified; I can’t imagine trying to show off my Rolls Royce Phantom at 220 mph.

The Phantom is the more “prim & proper” of the two. The Mulsanne is your “rudely elegant” more robust performer, like a bull wearing a velvet jumpsuit. So again we are “stymied!” Which one? OK I will continue……

Each offers personalization……each offer a unique bespoke experience……

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Through Bentley personal commissioning, there are an extraordinary number of possible choices of design, color, leather texture/grain, and wood veneers for the interior. The Mulliner Driving specification escalates the Mulsanne to an even more exclusive level of elegance, comfort, and convenience.

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Being completely bespoke, there are limitless exterior paint choices in a range of Solid, Satin, and Pearlescent finishes, you create your own personal masterpiece. Actually, the colors are infinite they span beyond the boundaries, color customization is a specialty. One could take a favorite tie or purse to the designer to match, then, it appears on your vehicle just the way YOU want.

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It takes nearly three weeks to paint the Mulsanne depending upon your specifications. With a Satin finish, it is applied at the end of the process, the metallics use a layer of unique ‘Mica” and an aluminium mix, and of course, the solids have no metallic components. The Pearlescent colors balance solid and pearlescent layers of paint and is also extremely difficult to control but it gives an unparalleled depth to color and dazzle.

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And back to that special Mulliner magic….one can build a special version of the Mulsanne with everything personalized right down to the ride control. The prodigious design studio of H.J. Mulliner has been a reputable coachcrafter adding their special touch to both Rolls Royce and Bentley successfully for many decades. Owning a Mulliner Masterpiece is the equivalence of owning the Mona Lisa…..a magnificent work of art in both cases.

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Rolls Royce has an equally impressive bespoke program that allows the client to create a car that is completely personal to them. An interesting and popular option is the ‘Starlight’ headliner which incorporates thousands of fibre optic lights woven into the headlining to simulate a star-filled night sky. When Rolls Royce says “bespoke” they mean it in every sense, this is what goes into the personalization of a Phantom; 450 individual leather pieces laser-cut and hand sewn, 112,533 stitches for the Phantom upholstery embroidered detail, 11 individual varieties of wood veneer hand applied in over 20,000 wood veneer combinations with 58 layers to every Phantom wood part, 44,000 exterior paint colors using 100 pounds of paint during the process, and 60 pairs of hands taking over 400 hours to construct each Rolls Royce Phantom.

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This is just one of many available luxury editions in the Rolls Royce bespoke collections, so personalization is as infinitely imaginative as its owner.

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So we are still not sure….right? Let’s look at the styling

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The Rolls Royce Phantom with its long bonnet and short deck represent classic contemporary simplicity. The Spirit of Ecstasy a top the hand crafted radiator shell alerts the world to its presence. Its classy self-closing rear coach doors have umbrellas conveniently stowed away in each.

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The car’s striking front end mixes past, present, and future Rolls Royce styling cues. The high waist line of the car makes it appear even larger and longer, it is designed to sweep end to end with no interruption to its classic lines, with simplicity, it is understated luxury at its finest. A Rolls Royce never had to scream its arrival. Not only is the Phantom the signature model it is the very essence of the marque.

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The Bentley Mulsanne is a sleek network of sweeping lines that seem to ‘never begin and never end’; making the eye travel all the way around the car tracing its attractive aluminium body design.

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The Mulsanne features bold front end styling dominated by the traditional Bentley matrix grille and prominent round projector headlamps with chrome surrounds embossed with the Bentley name.

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The car’s seamless, elegantly formed lines are tasteful and understated elegantly. The classic sporting proportions with the long bonnet, short front overhang, and long rear overhang portray a sense of drama with dynamic movement…….the car looks like it is in motion even when it is not. Its silhouette is augmented by muscular haunches and sharp sculpted lines that flow gracefully from the front wings all the way back to the contemporary ellipse style tail lamps.

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Still no winners yet, they both are gorgeous!

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Bentley Mulsanne media equipped

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There are numerous configurations to the infotainment and media apps in both saloons. They both can be equipped as rolling board rooms with hard drives mounted in the trunk. Hi res monitors are installed into the rear of the front seat head restraints for the rear occupants. An impressive array of electronic choices such as power folding veneer tables with Bluetooth wireless keyboards, and iPad systems that control everything from the rear seat……your favorite music, telephone system, DVD players, electrically adjustable rear seats, even temperature control. When bespoke….sky is the limit.

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Rolls Royce Phantom media equipped

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Now, after reading about both of these supreme achievements in motoring, which one is the winner? They are unique, ultra-luxurious, automotive masterpieces. There is no winner and there is no loser in this rare arena. They are both considered highly respectable and are immediately identified in any gathering of fine automobiles, and they both excel beyond the competitors. Keep up the exemplary work Rolls Royce and Bentley……the world loves you!

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If you enjoyed this post…stay tuned for Part II of “The Showdown.” The next will be a more critical review. It will also showcase their upgraded technology since the date of this post. If you would like to send an email to me I may be reached at: 99milesperhour@gmail.com. Let me hear from you, which Rolls Royce models would you like to see contrasted? The Continental GT vs the Wraith so far is gaining momentum…what do you think? There is also a new RR site I am preparing for release soon. Thanks for looking, hope to hear from you!

The Bentley LeMans Edition

Posted in Bad Boy's Club, Bentley with tags , , , , on June 6, 2013 by 99MilesPerHour

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“The Bentley Boys” were dedicated to serious racing making headlines around the world. Their passion for racing was exhibited by ‘doing things with spirit, courage, instinctive intelligence, and teamwork’. They had four consecutive wins at LeMans from 1927 to 1930; the Bentley Boys took the world by storm. John Duff, Dudley Benjafield, Woolf Barnato, Tim Birkin, Glen Kidston, and Guy Smith made up this ferocious racing team.

It was Woolf Barnato who bought the company and went on to create the famed Bentley Blower. Barnato won LeMans three years in a row – 1928, 1929 and 1930. This group of wealthy British motorists kept the marques reputation for high performance alive. A Bentley has always been a thoroughbred racing machine with its rugged reliability and durability.

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To commemorate both the 90th Anniversary of the legendary LeMans 24 Hour endurance and the 10th Anniversary of Bentley’s historic 2003 win at LeMans, 48 examples of each LeMans Edition will honor each of the six Bentley Boys for their tenacity and indomitable determination.

The Mulsanne and the Continental GT will feature The LeMans Edition. Each car will have a unique ‘LeMans Edition’ numbered badge, LeMans clock face, embroidered LeMans badge to each head restraint, illuminated door sill plates with the limited edition name, specific interior veneers, and special exterior colors. Each of the six specifications will reflect the personalities of the six Bentley Boys.

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The Mulsanne limited editions will also feature diamond quilted upholstery with matching diamond quilted hide door panels, drilled alloy foot pedals,  ‘Quad Effect’ tail pipe extensions, a sports tuned suspension, and two-piece five spoke dark tinted alloy wheels.

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Bentley Mulsanne LeMans Edition

The John Duff Specification

Original Bentley Boy, famed for his determination setting over 50 world records for speed & endurance. He was the first to take part in the LeMans 24 Hour trek in 1923, he drove Bentley’s first win in 1924. The exterior color is Moonbeam with an interior color of Linen/Beluga & Piano Black veneer with a Bright Aluminum Fascia. The roof color is black.

The Dudley Benjafield Specification

“Benjy” was a Harley Street specialist with a passion for motorsports. He took part in the LeMans 24 Hour seven times winning the infamous race in 1927. The exterior color is Verdant which is a vibrant green (pictured), and interior color of Linen/CumbrianGreen, the veneer is Dark stained Burr Walnut with a Dark Aluminum Fascia and a Black roof.

The Woolf Barnato Specification

“Babe” Barnato remains the only driver to have won on each LeMans 24 Hour securing three back-to-back wins. He was also the CEO of Bentley. The exterior color is Granite with the interior color of Hotspur. The veneer is carbon fibre, the Fascia and console are also of the same material, with a Black roof.

The Tim Birkin Specification

Sir Henry ‘Tim” Birkin was an ex-fighter pilot renowned for excesses both on and off the track. He gained notoriety for his utterly ruthless manner to achieve a result. He won in 1929. The exterior color is Glacier white with a Beluga interior. Piano Black veneer with a Bright Aluminum Fascia grace the cabin.

The Glenn Kidston Specification

Glenn was an ex-naval officer specializing in miraculous escapes. His reputation was “a born adventurer, rough, tough, and fearless.”  He won first place in 1930. The exterior color is Dark Sapphire with the interior in Newmarket Tan and Imperial Blue. Dark stained Burr Walnut combined with Dark Aluminum Fascia makes a stunning contrast.

The Guy Smith Specification

He was a key figure in Team Bentley’s attack at the historic 2003 LeMans 24 Hour, Guy drove the Bentley Speed 8 as #7. This was Bentley’s 6th victory at the event, securing his place in racing history. The exterior color is Beluga with a matching interior. The veneer is Piano Black with  a Dark Aluminum Fascia.

The Bentley Continental LeMans Edition

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The John Duff Specification

Exterior color is moonbeam the  interior is  Linen and Beluga with Piano Black veneer and a Bright Aluminum Fascia. The convertible models get a Black roof.

The Dudley Benjafield Specification

Exterior color is Verdant with an interior trimmed in Linen and Cumbrian Green with Dark stained Aluminum applied to the Fascia. The convertible gets a Black roof.

The Woolf Barnato Specification

Exterior color is Granite with the interior in Hotspur. Carbon fibre covers the Fascia as well as the center console. The convertible gets a Black roof.

The Tim Birkin Specification

Exterior color is Glacier White with a Beluga interior trimmed with Piano Black veneer and Bright Aluminum trim applied to the Fascia. The convertible gets a Black roof.

The Glenn Kidston Specification

Exterior color is dark Sapphire and the interior is in Newmarket Tan with a Dark stained Burr Walnut Fascia. The convertible roof is Blue.

The Guy Smith Specification

Exterior color is Beluga with a matching interior, Piano Black veneer with a Dark Aluminum Fascia. The convertible roof is Black

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Bentley has always been an iconic racing thoroughbred, with its new owner, it is becoming even more so. The famous Bentley “torque” is performance like you have never experienced. These Limited Editions epitomize the Bentley Racing Heritage at The LeMans 24 Hour endurance, and  the famous Bentley Boys. These LeMans Edition Bentley Mulsanne and Continental GT models will undoubtedly become cherished collectibles…..as all Bentleys.