On August 28 of this year, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Bentley will debut the 1st of only 100 Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner. Conceived by Mulliner designers as part of the centenary celebrations of the brand, each of these 100 limited editions possesses a part of the crankshaft from W.O. Bentley’s beloved personal car.
The crankshaft was part of a 7,983 cc straight six, the most powerful engine powering any car available in Britain at a time. The car it powered was the ‘8 Litre’, the largest and most luxurious Bentley of its time, and acclaimed as W.O. Bentley’s finest ever grand tourer.
Launched in 1930, the ‘8 Litre’ was also the last car W.O. Bentley personally designed for Bentley Motors. He said of the 8 Litre: “I have always wanted to produce a dead silent 100-mph car, and now I think we have done it.” This was in an era that has been defined as the ‘golden age’ of motoring in Britain.
Originally registered GK 706, W.O.’s was the second 8 Litre off the production line and became his personal transport. He commissioned H J Mulliner to build a saloon body on the 12-foot, short-wheelbase chassis. W.O. was then forced to sell his beloved car in 1931. Bentley Motors repurchased it in 2006 and subsequently underwent an extensive restoration which included replacing the original crankshaft.
W.O.’s 8 Litre has since become a symbolic ‘company car’ for each successive Bentley CEO, preserving a tradition that dates back to the company founder. It is now a focal point in the Bentley Motors Lineage Exhibition, situated at the company headquarters in Crewe, England.
The metal of the original crankshaft from W.O.’s car has now been divided into 100 equal parts. Each of these will be incorporated into the handcrafted interior design of the 100 examples of the W.O. Edition Mulliner. Furthermore, the design of the W.O. Edition also draws on design cues taken from the 8 Litre.
The interior of the W.O. Edition displays a range of exquisite features inspired by luxury living in the 1930s, key to which is the Mulliner illuminated cocktail cabinet. A marquetry scene on the handcrafted unit depicts the geometric front matrix grille and headlight of the 8 Litre along with a display window, inside which a piece of the crankshaft from W.O. Bentley’s own 8 Litre car is showcased. Just below the machined metal display case is an inscription detailing the significance of the Bentley artefact.
To create the marquetry scene, a number of different veneers and materials have been used. Four different wood types give contrast and depth to the piece, while aluminium is used to achieve the highlights, signature and geometric pattern. The diamond-like borders that run parallel to each side add to the contemporary look while retaining an art deco feel. The piece is finished with W.O.’s signature.
Other key interior features include the colour split made from luxurious Fireglow Heritage, and Fireglow hide which is complemented further by Beluga hide detailing and blind stitching. Dark Stain Burr Walnut veneer extends to the minor gauge panel, steering wheel rim and other areas. It is finished with Fireglow lambswool rugs, glass tumblers, privacy curtains to the rear doors, and a rear seat entertainment system.
The exterior features the Onyx paintwork, however, customers can specify other colours from Bentley’s extensive pallet if they prefer. Other features include the chrome bonnet strip and graceful Flying B Mascot atop the optional chrome radiator shell and grille. A discreet W.O. Bentley signature badge is displayed on the lower bumper, while special centenary badging adorns the self-levelling wheel centres and door tread plates.
The W.O. Edition can be specified on any of the three models within the Mulsanne range. Bentley’s flagship model is one of the finest handmade cars in the world representing the ultimate combination of customisable luxury and performance, and a true statement of Bentley’s innovation and craftsmanship.
As Bentley approaches its centenary in 2019, Mulliner designers reflected on the last 99 years of an extraordinary British automotive story to imagine the new Mulsanne W.O. Edition. In doing so, they have created a truly unique collector’s item. They have demonstrated the beauty of bespoke while simultaneously paying homage to the founding father of the company by incorporating a core piece of hardware from his most beloved car.
While the Mulsanne W.O. Edition will make its public debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in late August, customer deliveries are scheduled to commence in 2019; Bentley’s centenary year.