Bentley Sees Opportunity in One-off Coachbuilding

Bentley Sees Opportunity in One-off Coachbuilding
For anyone who ever drew his dream car on a piece of paper during sixth-grade math class and wishes it would someday come to life, this post is for you.

Autocar is reporting that Bentley’s sales and marketing boss Kevin Rose believes that the technical know-how exists to bring back custom-designed automobiles, something equivalent to the bygone era during which wealthy patrons could commission custom-designed car bodies using existing chassis components and engines. “History repeats itself,” he said, according to the report. “If you go back to Bentley’s early days, we built chassis which customers then took and said, ‘I want this bodywork on top.’ It was haute couture for cars, and I love that idea.”

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As with many other luxury brands, Bentley already has a personal-commissioning department, called Mulliner. But Rose’s idea suggests that Bentley would take personalization to a level that Mulliner hasn’t done for decades. “Lots of companies do ultralimited editions, but this could take it further,” he said. “We’re interested in the concept and what it might mean.”

Should Bentley start building custom cars for its wealthiest clients, it wouldn’t be the only one, of course. So-called “boutique” design houses have been making one- or few-offs this whole time, resulting in remarkable recent automobiles such as the Stratos by Pininfarina, the Growler E by Vizualtech, and even the Bentley Continental Flying Star shooting brake by Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera. Other OEMs, including Ferrari, which most recently introduced the arresting F12 TRS barchetta, are getting in on the custom-body action, too. How far will Bentley be willing to go beyond custom paint jobs and monogrammed headrests? Only the future knows, but the idea of Bentley wrapping its excellent powertrain and chassis components with a body of one’s dreams has us reaching for our sketch pads.

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