Bacalar Car Zero is a purpose-built engineering prototype of Bacalar – the first member of the Bentley Mulliner Coachbuilt portfolio and the first Barchetta-style Bentley of the modern era. The prototype’s purpose is to accumulate mileage and pass crucial quality tests at various locations around Europe. Once the 20-week schedule of final tests, development and durability work is done, Bentleys will start building the 12 unique examples of this limited edition model; guaranteeing rarity and super-exclusivity.
So far, the car has completed wind tunnel-based aerodynamic assessment, high-speed stability and top speed testing, handling and dynamics evaluations, appraisal of noise and vibration, and careful thermal measurements. The car now enters a period of ongoing customer-focused mileage accumulation and durability work, before a phase of climate cycle testing up to 80 °C and an intensive electrical system validation.
All of this work is vital as Bacalar incorporates more than 750 new components, all of which have to pass Bentley’s stringent quality, functionality and durability standards. More than 40 of those parts are crafted in carbon fibre, while a complement of nearly 100 are produced using rapid additive manufacture techniques.
Bentley’s Director of Mulliner, Paul Williams, comments: “Bacalar Car Zero is the crucial prototype that we’re using to sign-off the design, engineering and craftsmanship of this ground-breaking part of Bentley Mulliner’s future. The Bacalar is a thoroughly modern iteration of the coachbuilt Bentleys of the past – extremely rare, entirely handcrafted, totally bespoke to each customer and exquisite in its details. The whole team behind the car is thrilled to see the prototype shrugging off every test we throw at it, and we’re really looking forward to starting the build of the 12 customer cars.”
This exceptionally rare car is named after Laguna Bacalar in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, a lake renowned for its breath-taking natural beauty. This is a continuation of Bentley’s strategy of naming cars after remarkable landmarks which started with Bentayga in 2015.
The roofless Barchetta design has an all-new and highly muscular coachwork that embraces a myriad of options and materials; making each Bacalar unique. The Bacalar shares no body panel with any other car in the Bentley model line-up. It only shares one exterior component with a Continental GT – the door handle. This, we are told, is because it contains the keyless entry system.
The rear clamshell, wings and top deck of the Bacalar are crafted from carbon fibre, while the doors are lightweight aluminium. The use of three-dimensional printing has enabled Bentley’s designers to be more expressive than ever before.
The Bacalar draws on design DNA and materials inspiration from the beautifully sculpted, award-winning EXP 100 GT, which was conceived to mark the company’s centenary in 2019. It was crowned ‘Most Beautiful Concept Car of the Year’ at the prestigious French Festival Automobile International and ‘Concept Car of the Year’ by GQ magazine.
The Bacalar prototype and the 12-customer cars, all pre-sold, will be handcrafted in Bentley Mulliner’s workshop in Crewe, according to the individual customer’s personal requirements. Bacalar customers have had the opportunity to work closely with a team of specialist designers to enhance their vehicles with a selection of unique materials and specially curated options. Some of the premium materials used include paint containing ash from rice husks, which provides a sustainable way of delivering a rich metallic finish, natural British wool and 5,000-year-old Riverwood sourced from the ancient Fenlands of East Anglia.
The Bacalar features an enhanced version of Bentley’s workhorse, the 6.0-litre, W12 TSI engine. It produces 659 PS (650 bhp) and 900 Nm of torque. An advanced Active All-Wheel-Drive System varies the torque split between front and rear wheels.
The Bacalar is the first in Bentley’s Mulliner Coachbuilt portfolio, and other such bespoke Bentley’s are set to follow. This project revives the Mulliner name, which is woven into the very fabric of Bentley. The tradition of bespoke craftsmanship has been passed down from generation to generation since the 1500s, when Mulliner was founded as a saddler.
The then independent Mulliner crafted a bespoke, 3-litre, two-seater Bentley for the 1923 Olympia Show in London, creating a bond between the two companies that would last for decades. Perhaps the most famous was Mulliner’s design for the 1952 R-Type Continental, still considered one of the most beautiful cars of all time. The fastest, four-seat sports car of the era, the R-Type’s iconic beauty continues to influence design today through the Bentley Continental GT.
Mulliner cemented its partnership with Bentley in 1959 by becoming part of the business. Today, around 40 employees, ranging from specialists with over 40 years of Mulliner experience to apprentices learning the skills that have been honed over decades of manufacturing, work for Mulliner.