how grand

Bentley’s New Coachbuilt Grand Tourer Is a Custom Convertible for 12 Lucky People


March 3, 2020 Cars By
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These days, the big trend in high-end automobiles is exclusivity. Not that that’s a new idea — any expensive item will be exclusive by virtue of its price — but carmakers have found a rich vein of inspiration (and profits) in creating even more exclusive cars and variants thereof for their best clients. Ferrari, McLaren, Bugatti, Aston Martin — they’ve all launched limited-run specials in recent years.

Now, it’s Bentley’s turn. Meet the Bentley Mulliner Bacalar.

In a press release, Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark described the Bacalar as “our ultimate expression of an open-top luxury grand tourer.” The contrarians among us might push up their glasses and point out that a gran turismo is traditionally a coupe, not a roadster. These are also the same people who will likely be unable to look past the fact that, mechanically speaking, the Balacar is basically a reskinned Continental GT. Suffice it to say, those people miss the point.

The point of this car, of course, is to showcase the length and breadth of talents of Bentley’s Mulliner division, which specializes in making the Crewe-based company’s even more special. The car draws upon many of the sustainable material ideas found in last year’s EXP 100 concept car. The wood may be 5,000 years old, but it’s sustainably sourced; the paint uses rice husk ash to create its metallic finish.

While the all-wheel-drive system, eight-speed dual-clutch automatic and twin-turbo W12 engine (here making 650 horsepower and 667 pound-feet of torque) are shared with the Conti GT, every body panel is bespoke to the Bacalar, from the EXP 100-reminiscent front end to the flared tail. The doors are carbon fiber; the top deck aluminum. Buyers, of course, can choose from any color paint their heart desires.

Inside, Bentley created a wraparound cockpit specifically for the Balacar, with matching fitted Schedoni luggage, dark bronze and black detailing and titanium controls. There’s also the delightful Bentley Rotating Display, which flips between a touchscreen infotainment system, analog gauges and a smooth piece of wood veneer at the touch of a button, in case your passenger weren’t already impressed. And, of course, you can opt for whatever shade of the finest leather you crave, should you be lucky enough to order a Balacar.

Or, rather — should you have been lucky enough. Past tense. Just 12 Balacars will be made for the whole world, and all of them have been spoken for. We’re sure you’ll be able to find one on DuPont Registry in a couple years, though.

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Will Sabel Courtney

Will Sabel Courtney is Gear Patrol’s Motoring Editor, formerly of The Drive and RIDES Magazine. You can often find him test-driving new cars in New York City, cursing the slow-moving traffic surrounding him.

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