Salon Privé will be welcoming Bentley back to the beautiful grounds of Blenheim Palace from 22-26 September, when the legendary British marque will unveil a three-strong showcase hand-crafted by Bentley Mulliner.
Mulliner’s history goes all the way back to the 1500s, when the company was founded as a saddler. Having moved into coachbuilding, it crafted a bespoke body for a Bentley 3 Litre for the 1923 Olympia Show in London, creating a bond between the two companies that would last for decades. Mulliner bodied more than 240 Bentley chassis in the 1920s alone and became renowned as the very best of the new coachbuilding firms.
It cemented its partnership with Bentley in 1959 by becoming part of the business. It later moved into the old engineering experimental department at Bentley headquarters in Crewe and has remained there ever since. Today, around 40 employees work for the company, ranging from specialists with over 40 years of Mulliner experience to apprentices learning the skills that have been honed over decades of manufacturing.
As Bentley’s in-house bespoke and personal commissioning division, Bentley Mulliner now operates a trio of portfolios to deliver exceptional craftsmanship across the model range – and beyond. All three portfolios will be represented together for the first time at Salon Privé. A new member of the Mulliner Collections family will be unveiled, alongside the public debut for the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar and a post-restoration debut for one of the most famous Bentleys in history.
The Bentley Mulliner Classic offering was introduced last year with the announcement – at Salon Privé – that Bentley’s 1929 Team Blower was to be reborn with a new build of 12 supercharged 4½-litre examples of the iconic car. These models, each individually handcrafted by a team of specialists from Bentley Mulliner, will form the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series. This subdivision of Mulliner also completed an immaculate restoration of the 1939 Bentley Corniche in 2019, which made its debut at Salon Privé last year.
In 2020, the Classic portfolio will be represented by revealing the stunning result of the past 12 months of work by a dedicated team of engineers and artisan craftspeople in restoring Bentley’s own Team Car, as raced by Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin – the very car that’s provided the data and blueprints for the Continuation Series.
The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar – the rarest two-door Bentley of the modern era, and the ultimate expression of two-seat, open-air luxury – will make its public debut at Salon Privé. Just 12 examples of this striking, limited-edition model – which draws on design DNA from the award-winning EXP 100 GT concept car – are being created, guaranteeing rarity and exclusivity, and offering supreme luxury and breath-taking performance. Each model will be hand-crafted in Bentley Mulliner’s workshop in Crewe according to the individual customer’s personal tastes, and the Bacalar is the first car to be created as part of Bentley Mulliner’s new Coachbuilt portfolio.
The third branch of the business – Bentley Mulliner Collections – will continue to offer customers pinnacle luxury derivatives of the core Bentley range, such as the new Continental GT Mulliner Convertible, as well as the opportunity to personalise their new Bentley. An expansive number of options is available across the full line-up of current production cars – from unique colour-matched paint, hide and thread combinations to bespoke feature content. The Collections portfolio will be represented by a new model, due to be announced the week before Salon Privé.
To celebrate the history of Mulliner, Bentley will also bring two very special cars from the Heritage Collection. An 8 Litre that was previously the company car of WO Bentley himself – and wearing an HJ Mulliner body – will lead a convoy of modern Bentleys arriving at the event. It will be joined in that procession by perhaps the most iconic Mulliner-bodied car in history – the R-Type Continental of 1952. Still considered one of the most beautiful cars of all time, it was the fastest four-seater of the era.
Salon Privé Director David Bagley said: “We are very proud to be hosting so many hugely significant world debuts this year, and we’re honoured that Bentley has chosen the magnificent surroundings of Blenheim Palace in which to introduce the very latest members of its exclusive Bentley Mulliner portfolios. With Salon Privé being renowned for quality and luxury, it’s the perfect fit, and the procession of cars arriving at the Palace should be a fabulous sight.”
With no fewer than 20 new automotive models also being unveiled (of which four are global premieres), unrivalled hospitality, and the chance to indulge in some retail therapy courtesy of luxury brands offering everything from Boodles jewellery to fine fragrance, travel, aviation and interior design, this year’s Salon Privé Week promises to be the best yet!