Autofocus: 2021 Bentley Bacalar Mulliner

Bentley Mulliner unveiled the 2021 Bentley Bacalar Mulliner, a groundbreaking two-door luxury Grand Tourer, at Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe, England today. Representing the rarest modern-era two-door Bentley and the epitome of two-seat, open-air opulence, the Bacalar marks Bentley Mulliner’s return to coachbuilding – a historic move for the world’s oldest coachbuilder.

Limited to just 12 units, this exclusive model guarantees both rarity and exclusivity, offering unparalleled luxury and breathtaking performance. Each Bacalar will be meticulously handcrafted in Bentley Mulliner’s Crewe workshop, tailored to the unique preferences of individual customers, signifying the future of bespoke luxury motoring.

Named after Mexico’s scenic Laguna Bacalar in the Yucatan peninsula, renowned for its natural beauty, the Bacalar continues Bentley’s tradition of naming cars after remarkable landmarks, initiated with the Bentayga in 2015.

Bentley Mulliner, with its rich heritage dating back to the 1500s, has revived its expertise in crafting rare coach-built cars for discerning customers. The Bacalar, featuring a roofless Barchetta design with muscular coachwork, offers many customization options, making each unit a unique creation born from direct collaboration between Bentley Mulliner’s design team and the customer.

As the most exclusive two-door Bentley of the modern era, the Bacalar marks the launch of a new Bentley Mulliner operation and aligns with the coachbuilder’s strategy, introducing three distinct portfolios: Classic, Collections, and Coachbuilt.

With almost 500 years of expertise in vehicle design, Bentley Mulliner’s illustrious history originated in the customization of luxurious horse-drawn carriages. The Bacalar stands as the culmination of this unparalleled heritage and mastery in the art of vehicle design.

Adrian Hallmark, Chairman, and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar is our ultimate expression of an open-top, luxury grand tourer, and of the immense capabilities of our team in Crewe.”

The Bacalar, a masterpiece of craftsmanship, seamlessly integrates materials and technology. Drawing design inspiration from the award-winning EXP 100 GT, it propels Bentley into a new century, offering a dynamically sculpted model with a driver-focused adventure in a luxurious, cocooned environment.

Sustainable materials showcased in the EXP 100 GT concept have become a reality in the Bacalar, including paint containing ash from rice husks, natural British wool, and 5,000-year-old Riverwood from the ancient Fenlands of East Anglia.

Powering the Bacalar is an enhanced version of Bentley’s 6.0-liter, W12 TSI engine, delivering 659 PS (650 bhp) and 900 Nm (667 lb.ft) of torque. The advanced Active All-Wheel-Drive System optimizes efficiency and dynamic performance, establishing the Bacalar as the ultimate open-air, two-seat luxury Grand Tourer.

All 12 units of the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar have already been allocated to customers worldwide, underscoring the model’s exceptional demand and exclusivity.

Bentley Mulliner Returns to Coachbuilding

The Bacalar reintroduces customers to the unique experience of collaborating closely with a team of specialist designers, allowing them to elevate their vehicles with a diverse selection of distinctive materials and meticulously curated options. Serving as the inaugural model, the Bacalar heralds the beginning of Bentley Mulliner’s Coachbuilt portfolio, one of three newly established divisions within the Bentley Mulliner organization.

Last year saw the introduction of Bentley Mulliner Classic, announcing the revival of Bentley’s 1929 Team Blower through a new build of 12 supercharged 4½-litre examples of this iconic car. Each model is individually handcrafted by the skilled team at Bentley Mulliner, forming the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series. The Classic division also concluded an impeccable restoration of the 1939 Bentley Corniche last year.

The third facet of the business, Bentley Mulliner Collections, will persist in providing customers with luxury-focused derivatives of the core Bentley range. Notable among these is the new Continental GT Mulliner Convertible, offering customers an array of personalization options across Bentley’s current production cars. This encompasses everything from unique color-matched paint, hide, and thread combinations to bespoke feature content.

Tracy Crump, Head of Commercial Operations at Bentley Mulliner, remarks, “While Bentley’s motto is ‘Be Extraordinary,’ at Bentley Mulliner we look to take it one step further, ‘Beyond Extraordinary.’ With the new Bacalar, we have been able to do exactly that, providing a select number of customers with the opportunity to express their taste in a truly remarkable grand tourer. Meanwhile, Bentley Mulliner Classic will breathe new life into the most iconic cars from our past, while our Collections team continues their work to offer a bespoke service to each Bentley customer.” This commitment underscores Bentley Mulliner’s dedication to exceeding expectations, offering unparalleled customization and craftsmanship across its diverse portfolio.

Bacalar – A Dynamically-Sculpted Design for the Future

The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar stands as a true ‘roofless’ Barchetta, an unparalleled luxury two-seat, open-air performance car, meticulously handcrafted to cater to each customer’s unique preferences. It represents the pinnacle of open-top Grand Tourers, seamlessly blending traditional handcrafted techniques with state-of-the-art technology.

Distinguished by its individuality, the Bacalar shares no body panel with any other Bentley model, drawing inspiration from the striking EXP 100 GT concept car unveiled for Bentley’s centenary celebration. The only shared exterior component with a Continental GT is the door handle, serving as the vessel for the keyless entry system.

Stefan Sielaff, Bentley’s Director of Design, notes, “You can clearly see echoes of the EXP 100 GT in the Bacalar, as well as the influence of the past. Bentley has a rich history of open-cockpit cars – the design of the Birkin Blower Bentley of the late 1920s was also an inspiration. We needed to push the boundaries as far as possible – customers were asking what Bentley’s take on a more expressive-looking car at this price point would look like. We were also tasked with starting to deliver on Bentley’s promise to use sustainable materials. Within less than a year of revealing our future-focused concept, we have already delivered on this promise.”

Crafted from lightweight aluminium, the rear clamshell and top deck of the Bacalar, combined with carbon fiber doors and wings, showcase the innovative use of materials. Three-dimensional printing further enhances the car’s distinctive appearance.

The Bacalar’s presence is accentuated by extended haunches, with a 20 mm wider rear track than the Continental GT, contributing to a more muscular and sporty stance. Custom 22-inch tri-finish wheels add a dramatic depth and contour on the road. The unique front and rear horizontal lights, initially introduced on the EXP 100 GT, contribute to the Bacalar’s distinct and dynamic character.

In a departure from the traditional badge, the Bacalar features a distinctive approach to identification. The name appears on the rear panel, subtly ‘hidden’ behind sustainable rice husk paint, with the capital ‘A’s influencing the contours of the lower bumper area.

Each Bacalar’s exterior aesthetic is a collaborative effort with individual customers, who can further personalize their car by selecting from rare paint options, exterior treatments, and design themes. This approach harks back to Bentley’s early years, offering owners the opportunity to actively shape the car of their dreams.

A Unique Wraparound Cockpit

Inside the opulent cabin, Bentley’s skilled craftsmen have fashioned a cockpit that stands apart from any other. The Bacalar’s unique architecture provided Bentley Mulliner designers with an opportunity to create a theme seamlessly merging the interior and exterior, while accentuating the character of the two-seater through a ‘wraparound’ cockpit design.

Exemplifying pure line and surface execution, the wraparound design flows gracefully from a steeply angled center console into the dashboard, extending into the door panels before enveloping a uniquely styled, semi-enclosed luggage compartment positioned behind the seats.

This innovative space is purposefully crafted for bespoke Schedoni fitted luggage, an Italian company renowned for designing luxury luggage for the automotive industry for almost 140 years. Exclusively tailored for the Bacalar, the optional luggage harmoniously matches the cabin’s trim and materials, seamlessly blending into the seats and creating an authentic two-seater cabin experience.

The cabin is adorned with uniquely designed details and features that accentuate the coach-built character of the car. The iconic ‘bullseye’ vents, steering wheel controls, media and climate controls, and intricate speaker frets showcase a new knurled pattern, repeated throughout the interior, with fine Dark Bronze detailing to enhance the finish, complemented by Midnight Black Titanium accents.

The dark, anodized titanium finish on the main controls and metallic dark bronze on the iconic Bulls-eye air vents further highlight intricate details.

The interior can be personalized in countless ways, with each car co-created and commissioned alongside the Bentley Mulliner team. Individually specified and finished using a myriad of Bentley colors and materials, the cabin showcases meticulous craftsmanship.

The finest Beluga leather is meticulously combined with Bentley’s heritage semi-gloss leather and natural wool, creating a dark ‘tone-on-tone’ character. For the first demonstration car, Bentley Mulliner’s Khamun accent leather highlights the wraparound cabin theme, harmonizing perfectly with the unique Yellow Flame exterior paintwork.

Every touchpoint has been thoughtfully designed for the Bacalar. The new D-shaped steering wheel features Alcantara inserts with a contrast accent top marker. The gear shifter is finished in Alcantara with Dark Bronze detailing. Unique leather strap door and seat releases, distinctive digital instrumentation, and a one-of-a-kind key design enhance the luxurious cabin even further.

The centerpiece of the center console is the renowned Bentley Rotating Display, elegantly designed with a customer-configurable home screen. Comprising 40 moving parts, it revolves around the Riverwood veneer when the engine starts, revealing the high-resolution touchscreen.

Three configurable windows can display the driver’s preferred functions, such as telephone, media, and navigation. The Bentley Rotating Display’s third side presents three elegant analog dials for outside temperature, a compass, and a chronometer, offering an alternative to the touchscreen when the driver prefers a digital detox.

Each car features a unique clock face with individual one-of-12 badging.

Owning a Bacalar is an immersive journey of discovery, with every element meticulously designed, from precious inlays and unique finishes to driver controls and the intricate 148,199 stitches needed to embroider the unique Bacalar quilt on each seat. Owners will continuously uncover new and captivating details, making each Bacalar an unparalleled expression of Bentley’s commitment to luxury and craftsmanship.

Sustainable Craftsmanship and Ethically Sourced Materials

Bentley has established collaborative partnerships with carefully chosen industry experts to bring the new Bacalar to life. These experts employ sustainable and innovative techniques, showcasing the epitome of craftsmanship refined over centuries and utilizing ethically sourced materials.

At the heart of the cabin is the wraparound dashboard crafted from rare Riverwood, a sustainable wood preserved for 5,000 years in the Fenlands of East Anglia, England. Selected for its striking black aesthetic developed over millennia, this wood undergoes meticulous air-drying to preserve its natural characteristics. The Bacalar’s dashboard, veneered and sliced into upper and lower elements, showcases the wood’s unique grain and color. The upper Riverwood features an open-pore semi-matte finish, while the lower sections seamlessly blend into high-gloss piano black.

Collaborating with a traditional British textile mill, Bentley Mulliner has introduced bespoke natural wool cloth, reminiscent of a fine tailor’s suit. This exclusive woven cloth, created using centuries-old methods, is used in seat inserts, seat backs, and side head restraints, and flows elegantly throughout the interior.

Embracing sustainable craftsmanship, the luxury overmats are precision woven on traditional Wilton looms in England, using the finest natural yarns. Hand-carved deep pile carpets, following the embroidered pattern on the seats, grace the footwell and rear luggage compartment.

Partnering with a local Peak District supplier, the Bacalar offers a unique opportunity for customers to create artisan piping, enhancing the seat architecture with custom patterns, color combinations, and personal embossed effects.

The paintwork on the Bacalar is not only visually stunning but also sustainable. The pigment is synthetically manufactured using rice husk ash, a by-product of the rice industry, reducing landfill waste and creating a transition of color that intensifies the car’s sculpted exterior in different lights.

Every Bacalar will be meticulously handcrafted in Mulliner’s dedicated workshop at the Bentley factory in Crewe, which stands as the world’s first certified carbon-neutral factory for luxury car production. This commitment to sustainability extends across every aspect of Bacalar’s creation, reinforcing Bentley’s dedication to environmentally conscious and bespoke craftsmanship.

A Unique Driving Experience

The Bentley Bacalar seamlessly merges bespoke, hand-crafted luxury with cutting-edge technology, delivering an unparalleled driving experience.

Featuring all-new coachwork meticulously crafted by Bentley Mulliner, the Bacalar is powered by Bentley’s renowned 6.0-litre, twin-turbocharged W12 TSI engine, coupled with a technologically advanced drivetrain.

The dual-clutch, eight-speed transmission in the Bacalar ensures swift and efficient gear changes, enhancing the overall performance. Supported by an adaptive chassis utilizing Bentley’s intelligent 48-volt Dynamic Ride System, the Bacalar promises a responsive ride with exceptional handling and refinement across various driving conditions.

The air suspension system further contributes to ride comfort and lateral stability, providing passengers with a smooth journey while ensuring the Bacalar feels effortlessly precise and responsive on the road. This integration of advanced technology and handcrafted luxury solidifies the Bacalar as a unique and extraordinary driving experience.

The Legend of Mulliner

The legend of Mulliner is interwoven into the very essence of Bentley, reflecting a tradition of bespoke craftsmanship that spans centuries. Founded as a saddler in the 1500s, Mulliner’s legacy evolved, transitioning to coachbuilding in the 1760s. It gained prominence by constructing and maintaining carriages for the Royal Mail postal service, embracing the shift to motor cars and specializing in coachbuilding for mechanical propulsion.

In 1923, Mulliner, then an independent entity, created a bespoke 3-liter, two-seater Bentley for the Olympia Show in London, establishing an enduring connection between the two companies. During the 1920s alone, Mulliner crafted over 240 Bentley chassis, solidifying its reputation as one of the premier coachbuilding firms of the era.

Notably, Mulliner’s design for the 1952 R-Type Continental remains iconic and is regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever made. As the fastest four-seat sports car of its time, the R-Type’s timeless beauty continues to influence contemporary design through the Bentley Continental GT.

In 1959, Mulliner officially became part of Bentley, marking a pivotal moment in their partnership. The company relocated to the old engineering experimental department at Bentley’s Crewe headquarters, where it has remained ever since. Presently, approximately 40 employees, ranging from seasoned specialists with over four decades of Mulliner experience to apprentices learning the craft, contribute to the legacy of Mulliner, showcasing skills honed over decades of manufacturing.