Coachbuilding enters a new era.
The $1.9 million Bentley Bacalar is much, much more than just a re-skinned Bentley Continental GT. The two-seat grand touring roadster features all-new body panels, interior, and numerous other customization options buyers in this ultra-exclusive segment have come to expect. Bentley's Mulliner coachbuilding division was placed in charge of this project and, unlike many of its previous cars, the Bacalar was completed rather quickly. How fast?
Autoblog has learned from Bentley's chief designer, Stefan Sielaff, the Bacalar project took only nine months to complete from start to finish. But don't think for a moment that it wasn't a challenging nine months. Quite the opposite.
"We had to make sure the car was road-legal, homologated, and certified," Sielaff said. "The car you would have seen at the Geneva auto show is literally what the customer will get. It's not a crazy show car. The only difference will be the colors and the materials, because we will work with each customer to make an individual statement."
Bentley only got started on the Bacalar not long after it revealed the EXP 100 GT last year during its 100th anniversary celebrations, and the 12 future owners didn't even get a chance to see a full-size mockup of the car beforehand. Bentley could only show them digital renderings and yet they still agreed to proceed with the sale. They knew they were getting something very special. Sielaff did admit that although a full 12 months would have been preferred, the team of Mulliner designers and stylists still went above and beyond.
"We used this lacquered, open-pore river wood in the car. It's buried for more than 5,000 years before it's picked out from the moors. 5,000 years ago we were in the Bronze Age, so this inspired us to put bronze trim on the Bacalar instead of chrome. Of course, some customers might ask for a completely different configuration, like chrome or black trim, for example," Sielaff explained.
Mulliner is already exploring its next projects and Sielaff was unable to confirm much. However, he didn't rule out a possible Mulsanne Speed capable of winning the grueling Dakar Rally. "It always has to be evaluated. We need to look at what the customer wants, what the budget is, and what our capacities are, but generally speaking that is the idea. We want to tailor-fit a one-off for a customer who wants to go for it," he said.