Bentley Poaches McLaren Executive To Head Up Mulliner And Motorsport Divisions

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Ansar Ali was previously head of McLaren Special Operations.

Bentley has shaken up its motorsport and Mulliner divisions by appointing Ansar Ali, formerly of McLaren Special Operations (MSO), as the new director of both. This move comes as Bentley has recorded record-level demand for its one-of-a-kind vehicles in the past five years.

Ansar Ali exiting MSO is a big deal because, in the past few years, he's been vital in raising McLaren's cachet closer to the level of brands like Ferrari. He helped to build MSO into the bespoke wing that creates jaw-dropping vehicles like the McLaren Elva and one-off McLaren Sennas. A man with over 30 years in the industry that spans roles at Ford, Lotus, Caterham, and his own personal Zenos Cars, the man has more than enough experience to elevate Mulliner to even greater success.

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This is going to be important, as the Mulliner division has been vital for Bentley's growth over the past nine years. It's created well over 1,500 bespoke vehicles for the most discerning of clients, with 500 of those vehicles having been made in 2022 alone. Bentley has been profiting handsomely, with profits more than doubling last year even though the company only sold 3% more vehicles. This is all thanks to Mulliner for making many of those vehicles much more profitable.

The division has three levels: Classics, Collections, and the opulent Coachbuilt. These have brought us over-the-top vehicles like the $1.9 million Bentley Mulliner Bacalar, a Bentley Bentayga made for a ridiculously obscure sport, and recently the upcoming one-of-18 $1.95 million Bentley Mulliner Batur. If you have the money, Mulliner will do it, because come on, you expect rich people to just buy a boring old Bentley Continental Speed? Really?

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On top of running the oldest coachbuilder in the world in Mulliner, Ali will also head up the company's GT3 race teams currently competing, putting him very near the top of the food chain only reporting to Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and CEO of Bentley. Additionally, Paul Williams, having been with Bentley for 15 years, will become the new Mulliner Chief Technical Officer and Bob Martin, formerly head of final assembly at Bentley, will be appointed Chief Operating Officer.

"Mulliner represents the very pinnacle of automotive design and expertise and Ansar joins at a time when we are experiencing record levels of demand," said Hallmark. "Ansar's considerable industry experience, particularly leading low-volume, highly bespoke customer-led divisions will offer valuable insights that will reinforce Mulliner as the leading personal commissioning division and generate significant contributions to the wider Bentley business."

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What this move means for MSO is hard to tell. The company has run into financial troubles in the past couple of years that saw the automaker sell its headquarters and a vast majority of the brand's personal collection.

Perhaps Ali felt it was time to move to a company with a more secure footing, or maybe he just felt it was time to move on. Whatever the reason, McLaren still has a bright future ahead of it, especially thanks to the new Artura, so it's going to be interesting to see where the two storied British brands go from here.

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2022-2023 McLaren Artura Driving Front Angle
2022-2023 McLaren Artura Rear View Driving

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