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When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

When Driving is about Lifestyle, Car Life Nation is the Answer

A rosegold Bentley Continental GT Mulliner is shown parked in an open lot.

Dreams Come to Life With Bentley-Mulliner

The automotive industry is a busy place; no news stays fresh for long beneath the deluge of constant updates from every label under the sun. Startups, titans, and even niche brands like Bentley always have something new to share. Case in point, although it was only a few months ago that I introduced you to the Mulliner coachbuilding experts living under Bentley’s roof, there’s been enough news from Mulliner alone to warrant another full review of its stable.

With a history traceable back to 1559––i.e., long, long ago––and an air of prominence that predates the Declaration of Independence, the Mulliner name has been associated with luxurious travel for as long as Galileo has been associated with astronomy (the study of that which is far, far away). As one of the premier names associated with Bentley during its golden age of Le Mans’ dominance, the two organizations became inseparable, and since 1959 Mulliner has officially been a member of the Bentley family.

What that means today is that the Mulliner badge, exclusively associated with Bentley, signifies a vehicle of world-class performance, unassailable luxury, and a tier of exclusivity that defies comprehension. As stagecoaches were once built to satisfy clients’ unique whims in centuries past, with the rarest of exceptions, no two Mulliner-badged vehicles are alike; the only limitations are the client’s imagination and the law.

This pinnacle of transportation remains an elite privilege, as even few royals and billionaires are granted access to the limited runs that Mulliner produces. The brand once supplied the Royal Mail; its heritage claims the legendary Continental and Flying Spur designs. Today, Mulliner remains at the forefront of automotive luxury and design, continuously demonstrating its greatness with the latest releases from its three branches: Coachbuilt, Collections, and Classic.

Coachbuilt: Batur Makes a Splash

Unveiled at Monterey Car Week in August, the striking Mulliner Batur represents an inflection point in Bentley’s storied history. The style, with notable departures from and evolutions upon Bentley’s current design language, sets the stage for the all-electric models that Bentley has promised for 2025 and onwards. Yet the internals (many borrowed from the Continental GT) include the most powerful iteration of Bentley’s legendary W12 engine ever at 730 hp. As such, the Batur is Bentley’s alpha and omega, a striking beginning for one era and a rousing finale for another.

Created by the Coachbuilt division of Mulliner, the Batur is a showcase of the firm’s “incredibly wide range of rare artisanal skills combined with modern sustainable design and cutting-edge innovation.” Narrow teardrop-shaped headlight apertures and even slimmer tail lights are the most obvious changes from conventional Bentley design; an upright grille design with 3D elements also strikes a daring contrast to the Continental GT. The bodywork on the doors is more angular and forward-oriented than we’re used to, yet its “resting beast stance”––the cab-rearward style which defines the Continental GT as that ultimate muscle car and which will thankfully continue to be a Bentley signature––is only enhanced by the Batur’s black bumper panel. The piece rises above the license plate and creates the illusion of an outrageously massive diffuser, a very aggressive look.

With a limited run of only 18 cars––many of which are expected to be heading to the owners of the 12 Bacalars that preceded it––Mulliner was free to explore and expand the limits of manufacturing technology as a showcase, and it did not disappoint. Additive manufacturing (more commonly known as 3D printing), which can significantly reduce material waste in machining operations, is used not only for the titanium exhaust finishers but also for the optional 18-carat gold interior detailing (such as the ignition surround).

The leather is produced with a low water/aldehyde process, the carpets use recycled yarn, and some of the leather-like textiles are produced from coffee roasting by-products. The Batur even forgoes the use of carbon fiber, which requires 14 times more energy to produce than steel and has a significant carbon footprint, instead showcasing a composite fiber that is even lighter, with better vibration damping and 75% fewer carbon emissions––a fiber primarily derived from flax.

Though the 730 hp twin-turbo 6.0L W12 engine is far from the paragon of efficiency, the technological advancements made at this level are a preview of what sustainable material options are yet to come for the many, many tiers of automotive design between a Mulliner and the common Camry. The uniquely rare and exclusive Batur is a designer’s playground in every sense––the ultimate expression of genuine coachbuilt capability.

Collections: If Only I Could Collect Them All…

I’ve previously highlighted some of the most ridiculous personalizations offered by Mulliner Collections, from 3D wood paneling to veneers literally made of stone (an achievement that continues to blow my mind). That was fun to examine, but it’s another level of entertainment to see real-world examples of Mulliner’s myriad options applied in fascinating thematic homages.

Enter the Regional Collections. Often commissioned by dealerships, the Regional Collections showcase the lengths to which Mulliner can extend a “normal” Bentley’s personalization options in ultra-limited runs of vehicles designed on a theme. The collector in me is screaming right now. It’s implied that these are but a few of the thematic runs produced by the Collections division, so I don’t claim this to be an exhaustive list, but it’s certainly comprehensive in scope:

Manhattan Skyline

A silver pinstripe fittingly adorns the gloss-black carbon fiber body of the Continental GT, Flying Spur, and Bentayga in the Manhattan Skyline collection. The black-and-pinstripes theme, evocative of formal Wall Street dress code, is highlighted by sill plates, embroidery, and chrome fascia overlays illustrating Manhattan’s most famous architectural landmarks. I’d envision Jay-Z in one, but it might be too exclusive even for him!

Old Hollywood

Rose-tinted sunglasses, meet Mulliner. Three Continental GTC Speeds, inspired by the 1950s and 1960s golden age of Hollywood, are well-dressed in pastel paints reminiscent of classic studio designs. The detail runs deep––both the wheels and a painted interior pinstripe are perfectly matched to the exterior color. Beverly Hills sill plates add a touch of flair appropriate for one attempting to emulate Marlon Brando or Eva Marie Saint.


Created to celebrate 20 years in the Chinese market, Bentley sent 80 cars in four design packages that all celebrate the city where Bentley was born back in 1919. The four packages are The Guard (a Continental GT paying homage to the Royal Guards), The Carnaby (a Continental GTC designed to invoke the legendary boutique center of Soho), The Pall Mall (a Flying Spur fashioned after the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Bentley State Limousine), and The Savile Row (a Bentayga every bit as bespoke as the menswear produced on the famous London street). The cars all feature gloss veneers, “1 of 20” badging, and gold-plated organ stops for controlling the air vents, evoking both the Roaring ’20s when Bentley rose to prominence and many modern cultural overtones from its birthplace.


In 2021, four identical but brilliantly distinctive Continental GTCs appeared at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show in Aegean Blue and Ghost White paintwork. With wheels and exterior aero components painted to match, they may have been commissioned by Neptune himself. It was clearly a yachting expert who styled the interior in Brunel, linen, and Portland leather, with a Piano Linen fascia and a pinstriped open pore chevron pattern veneer down the middle. Because who said the only way to depart a marina in style was on a yacht?

Outdoor Pursuits

A set of three unique Bentaygas inspired by “fly fishing, equestrian, or canine activities” and dressed accordingly in Havana, Cumbrian Green, or Magnetic paint, the Outdoor Pursuits collection looks like a royal’s hunting lodge on the inside. Liquid Amber and Dark Fiddleback Eucalyptus veneers contrast richly with each other and the Sand Herringbone Tweed upholstery on the grab handles, doors, and seatback pockets. Candidly, the style makes me think of a very specifically-dressed grandparent with tortoiseshell glasses and a classic tweed jacket; this might be my favorite collection for nostalgia value alone.


Gah! A collectible theme, and it’s about space? Inspired by the Kennedy Space Center, Bentley Orlando commissioned a set of Bentayga Speeds in the hint-of-green silvery Cypress paint color with detailing that conjures imagery of fiery comets streaking through the midnight sky. Black exterior detailing is differentiated from the standard blackout kit by Orange Flame accents along the glossy carbon fiber trim. Orange also dresses select interior components, offsetting the dark Porpoise and Beluga leather and Galaxy Stone veneer to complete the lunar-oriented look in stunning fashion.

Ultimately, I’m never going to see a Mulliner Collections car in real life, which is a bummer because I would pay to attend that car show. The Hot Wheels collector in me is beyond thrilled by the concept of these cars––pricelessly collectible not for their history (as most genuinely priceless automobiles are) but for their sheer craftsmanship and artistry. Even in the customer-driven Collections division, the Mulliner name shines.

Classic: Doing What It Does Best

I’ve already mentioned that the Mulliner name became associated with Bentley right after Bentley’s formation. In the Roaring ’20s, automobiles were just a drivetrain and a chassis––thank you very much, but the bodywork is yours to sort out; now have a nice day! This work was completed by coachbuilders, whose industry persisted until the assembly line cut them out of the picture. In the era where annual production was limited, Mulliner made 240 Bentley bodies and became inseparable from the motor company.

Fast forward to today, and the Classic division is hard at work recreating long-gone icons of the previous century. Starting with the Blower and then resurrecting the Corniche, Mulliner Classic has now turned to the Speed Six––the most successful racing Bentley ever. The first true dynasty at Le Mans, Bentley’s five wins by 1930 was a record unmatched until Jaguar achieved the feat in 1957, and the last two of Bentley’s victories came with the Speed Six. With the Great Depression narrowing the starting field and immense troubles plaguing the other competitors, the two Speed Sixes were the only cars in their class to reach the finish line in 1930. Woolf Barnato retired with a perfect record of three wins in three races, and Bentley wouldn’t race again for 70 years.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang-era race spec cars are an entirely extra level of priceless. Incredibly rare to begin with, two World Wars, the Great Depression, and general attrition have made them even rarer, and those with a keen sentiment for history deeply lament their loss. Hence the value in producing 12 brand-new Speed Sixes in the most authentic way possible.

First, two existing originals were lovingly disassembled and reverse-engineered. One was “Old Number 3”, which actually raced at Le Mans in 1930 and provided the blueprint for all the parts. The other was Bentley’s own restored 1929 roadgoing variant which provided a performance benchmark. The pieces were scanned to create an exact digital replica, ensuring that the new parts––manufactured using period-appropriate techniques and original tools wherever possible––meet the specifications of the originals exactly. With 200 hp, a top speed of 125 mph, and all the refinement of a century-old technology, the 12 lucky owners will each pay in excess of $2 million for these cars.

Mulliner: Builder of Dreams

Coachbuilt is a showcase of capability, and Collections is a fresh fashion mall, but Classic is about something else. There’s a genuine love for its legacy behind what Mulliner does––how else could a bonafide pre-war driving experience be constructed and sold with the same price tag and exclusivity as the pinnacle of modern engineering?

In a strange but very real way, the “new” Bentley Speed Six is perhaps more exciting than even the Batur. In the torrent of breaking news about the fastest, quickest, most powerful, and most expensive designs on the market, the Batur can frankly be drowned out. But the Speed Six, unconcerned with anything other than being the most authentic version of itself, is something truly different. Ultimately, that’s why I had to revisit this topic and catch up on everything Mulliner has been up to.

These aren’t just cars; hunks of metal and composite stitched together to provide comfortable transportation. There’s a story behind every single one, whether it’s the corporate design story, a flashy bit of thematic representation, or a legend of world-class racing dominance. As I sit here and attempt to convey those stories in a story of my own, Mulliner is out there fashioning its stories into forged steel and molded flax fiber. While the car of my dreams is exactly that, Mulliner possesses the vision, talent, expertise, and funding to make the car of its dreams a reality.

Well, if this is the result of dream-based design…dream on, Mulliner, dream on.

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