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Bentley Searching its Past For Future Plans

By raccars Published

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The name Bentley remains synonymous with high quality, ultra luxury vehicles. However, thanks to an extremely healthy demand for premium brand cars, the company is gradually becoming part of the mainstream auto manufacturing industry.

Nonetheless, in its early days in the 1920s, Bentley was a specialist coach builder, making unique, bespoke vehicles according to customer specifications. Now the company plans to revisit those days by offering exclusive models to the wealthiest clients, as has been done recently by McLaren and Ferrari, for example, with the X-1 and F12 TRS.

Coach building was at one time the standard way to build a car, with 50 firms offering the service just in London. Bentley built what became a famous three litre rolling version and the customer would choose a body to clothe it. The modern day service would see the firm use its current model range as the basis for the vehicles, which would have bodywork designed to customers' specific requirements on top. The idea would allow Bentley to exploit the current demand for vehicle personalisation options, taking it to an ultra exclusive level.

Steps were already taken down this path earlier this year with the Mulsanne 95, a hand crafted edition of the flagship model designed by the brand's Mulliner personal commissions department to mark the 95th anniversary of Bentley.

Bentley has not yet confirmed it is going ahead with the idea and will be investigating its option over the next year but believes it is technically feasible for clients for whom cost is irrelevant. Issues under consideration include legislation in the country for which the car is destined - European regulations, for example, are stricter than those in the Middle East.

The coach building concept has never really disappeared among the wealthiest car buyers and well known names have been enjoying renewed success lately - in 2008 Pininfarina took the Rolls Royce Phantom Drophead Coupe and turned it into the Hyperion for one particularly exacting client, while the Bentley Continental GT was turning into a shooting brake called the Flying Star by Touring Superleggera in 2010.

Bentley has made no secret of its ambitious growth plans, fuelled in part by a boom in demand from the Middle East, but it is also realistic about the limits of how much growth is achievable in the essentially finite luxury car sector. By bringing coach building in house, Bentley is hoping to provoke modest growth that would otherwise line other firms' coffers.

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