Crewe is keeping the spirit of coachbuilding alive with the unveiling of the Bacalar by Mulliner. For the uninitiated, coachbuilding used to be an option for wealthier car buyers back in the day who wanted something out of the ordinary. The idea was to buy a production car and then send it to a coachbuilder who’ll custom make a body (and interior) to sit atop the chassis. This was possible due to the way cars were constructed then as opposed to how they are built now, which makes coach building a bit of dying art form.
In modern times, we have seen a few examples of coachbuilding such as Touring’s Disco Volante and Pininfarina’s new Stratos along with one common trait – an insane price tag. Mulliner’s Bacalar, at $3 million Australian dollars, is no exception. No wonder Crewe is only building 12 examples, thus making it one of the rarest Bentley’s ever made – all of which are already spoken for.
Coach built cars have always had a breath-taking quality to them and we think the Bacalar is no different. In terms of styling it does defer from the mould slightly but is still very much recognisable as a Bentley. Eagle-eyed readers might be thinking that the Bacalar looks rather familiar and to some extent it is. It’s basically a roofless version of the EXP 100 GT concept; and yes, we said roofless, as in the Bacalar isn’t a convertible.
Just like the EXP 100 GT, we see a clear departure from the double headlight design and on to this single unit situation. The grille is a massive, aggressive thing and delivers a sense of power and aggression from just looking at it. The wheels too can be described in the same fashion. The Bentley speedster rides on a set tri-color 22-inch alloys wheels.
The Bacalar’s body is completely bespoke – save for the keyless entry door handles – and is made almost exclusively from carbon fibre and is painted in a striking hue called Flame Yellow which is made with the ash from rice husks that is then turned into a silica which is then used to make the paint. How sustainable.
The rear of the Bacalar speedster is also very much recognisable as a Bentley but where you expect to find the rear seats, you’ll find a couple of cowlings reminiscent of the monoposto Bentleys of yesteryear. Also around the back are the pair of tail lamps which resembled a circuit board and the ‘floating’ Bentley emblem.
Inside, it’s just as special as its almost all bespoke. The Bacalar even gets a new flat-bottom steering wheel – the first for any Bentley. The luxury marque has also given it open-pore copper-infused Riverwood that’s supposedly 5,000-years old and plucked from the ancient Fenlands of East Anglia, UK. Aging for five millennia in wet earth has imparted a distinct dark color to the wood. After being removed from the ground, the wood is carefully air-dried to prevent decay and preserve its natural characteristics, said the brand.
The seats feature vintage leather upholstery and Scottish tweed. Each seat receives 148,199 stitches and each of the 12 cars will receives a different stitch pattern from one another and that is something that just cannot be done on a production Bentley. Some of the interior switches and dials have a distinct blue color to them that’s inspired by a blue lagoon in Mexico – a lake on the Yucatan Peninsula – which this car is named after. The exterior’s Flame Yellow is also accented throughout the cabin.
Bentley’s craftspeople know the devil is in the details and on a bespoke $3 million-dollar speedster like this, that really is the case. For example, the ‘bullseye’ vents, steering wheel controls, media, climate control and speaker frets all have a unique knurled pattern about them. Each element has a fine, Dark Bronze detail to further enhance the finish, with Midnight Black Titanium detailing.
Under the carbon bonnet is a reworked version of the Continental’s W12 engine which Bentley says is the most advanced 12-cylinder mill in the world. Regardless, the 6.0-litre twin-turbocharged W12 outputs 485kW and 900Nm of torque. The mill is mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Further, the Bacalar also features an Active All-Wheel-Drive System which can torque split between the front and rear axles. It allows it to use rear-wheel drive as much as possible during normal driving for improved efficiency and performance. The ride is controlled by an adaptive chassis system called Dynamic Ride System which runs off the car’s 48V electrical system. Bentley says the air suspension system controls ride comfort and lateral roll, while cushioning passengers from excessive movement, as well as making the Bacalar feel effortlessly precise.
The Bentley Bacalar was supposed to be unveiled at the 2020 Geneva International Motor Show, but was cancelled surrounding the spread of coronavirus COVID-19. As a result, the Bacalar was unveiled at the company’s head office in Crewe during a live stream over the internet.