The Bentley Mulliner Bacalar is a tailor-made 200mph bruiser

03rd March 2020
Bob Murray

Has Bentley unveiled “the future of coachbuilding”? Maybe that’s for you to decide, but goodness the new Bentley Mulliner Bacalar is a crazy looking thing. 


The Bacalar is 10 times the price of a standard Bentley Continental GT convertible and for that you get two fewer seats and no hood. But for 12 people around the world with deep pockets who live where the sun always shines, it is likely there’s nothing not to like here – just the coachbuilt splendour of the most bespoke Bentley for generations to admire. The Bacalar is only the second two-seat Bentley in 90 years. 

Such Bentley-based masterworks from Mulliner are rare things. HM The Queen has one – the state limousine – and there are 12 people who have signed up for one of the matching Mulliner-made re-creations of Tim Birkin’s 1929 Blower Bentley. Apart from a few long wheelbase Mulsannes, “Mulliner” to most Bentley owners since the 1950s has meant classy special editions and personalised colour and trim jobs. 


The Bacalar, clearly, is far more than that. It’s a 200mph coachbuilt special in keeping with traditional coachbuilding techniques that Mulliner first applied to a Bentley chassis in 1923 and which peaked in the 1950s with the exquisite R-Type Continental. 

All the Bacalar’s panels are unique and, with the two-seater’s profile dominated by the speedster-style twin black cowls, like nothing else in the Bentley range. It has been conceived as the ultimate open-cockpit grand tourer, a high days and holidays Bentley for the super rich – perfect for that cruise along the Grande Corniche on the Cote d’Azur, but probably best not left in the Tesco’s car park. 


There’s no hood, not even a tonneau, or anything that could be said to be of practical benefit, aside from a shelf behind the seats for the bespoke Schedoni luggage. The Bacalar’s raison d’etre is pure hedonism, a £1.5 million (plus taxes) combination of luxury and speed.

This is an imposing car on a grand scale with more expressive styling, and more sporting drama, than we have seen in a production Bentley for… years, nay decades. It’s big – slightly shorter than the Conti GT convertible on which it is based – and, as shown, very yellow to contrast against the black styling elements like the cowls. 


There is hardly any chrome on the body; the essential no-expense-spared feeling is far more successfully established by details like the anodised bronze badges, the black honeycomb grille and the unique lights. You know a car is really bespoke when not even the lights are carried over from the donor model. As head of exterior design JP Gregory confirms, this freedom made the Bacalar “a designer’s dream”.

The new lights, like other elements of the design, have been inspired by last year’s centenary concept, EXP100 GT. There is something distinctly odd about the headlights. Then you realise what it is. This is the first Bentley for eons not to have twin round headlights. 

Those sculptural new body panels are in aluminium or, like the doors and front and rear wings, in carbon-fibre. The only visible carryover part from the Conti, apart from the windscreen, is the door handles, says Bentley. There is still a familiarity in the stance and shape, with its signature crease lines and powerful rear haunches, so there could never really be any doubt that there’s a Continental GT underneath. The wheelbase is the same as the Conti’s but the front overhang is shorter, the rear track 20mm wider and the body more tapered. The wheels are 22-inches with a distinctive new design exclusive to the Bacalar. 


Head of interior design Darren Day says he wanted a barchetta-style cockpit, a fuselage of twin cocoons to tie in with the twin cowls behind the seats. He also wanted to bring the outside design in, something achieved with the black “waterfall” panel cascading into the cabin from between the cowls. 

For this ultimate new Mulliner, the hand-crafting departments at Crewe pulled out all the stops. They are particularly proud of the 5,000-year-old Riverwood, preserved for millennia in East Anglian peat bogs, which when made into an open-pore veneer impresses for its incredibly straight grain.

There is lacquered wood in there too, along with natural wool, Beluga luxury leather and anodised aluminium knobs with lots of knurling. The inviting quilted diamond pattern leather requires 148,000 stitches in every seat; even by Mulliner standards, it’s a record. Faces of the dials are finished in Bacalar blue, the only nod to the car’s name which derives from the Mexican lake famous for its turquoise waters.


And why exactly is there no weather protection in this car? The designers admit they could have developed a get-you-home emergency hood which might have worked up to 40mph, but was there any real point to that in a 200mph machine? A roof to cope with that speed – as the Conti GT convertible’s roof admirably does – would have meant changing the whole concept. 

With a hood the Bacalar could have been the fastest open Bentley ever; without it, a Conti GT with roof up is certain to have the higher top speed at 207mph. Bentley still believes the Bacalar will do 200 mph. And it should be quick, expected to weigh in quite a bit less than the 2,414kg Conti GT convertible and with more firepower under the bonnet. 


The Bacalar comes only with the 6.0-litre W12 engine. With new exhaust and other tweaks it makes 24bhp more than it does in the Conti at 659PS (650bhp), while torque output remains an entirely sufficient 900Nm (667lb ft). The standard convertible gets from 0-62mph in 3.8 seconds; the Bacalar will be out to beat that. 

There are no EXP initials here, so this is no mere concept for what would have been the Geneva show but a production prototype entirely indicative of what the 12 owners will receive when deliveries begin in the first part of 2021. 

They will not all be in Yellow Flame though. Owners can have any colour they like. And any sort of cabin trim they fancy. Personalisation is what Mulliner does after all. The result is that all 12 cars will be quite different from each other, Bentley believes, as well as costing more than the £1.5m (plus tax) price. That’s just the starting price...


The owners are already known, says the firm. They are all existing Bentley owners and collectors, and, according to Mulliner’s Tim Hannig, at least one of them has ordered both the Bacalar and the Mulliner re-creation of the Birkin Blower – a pretty cool Bentley double-act, that.

As Tim tells us, more limited-run Mulliner versions of Bentleys will be coming. The bespoking division – claimed to be the world’s oldest coachbuilder, dating back as a saddlemaker to the 1500s – will in future focus on classic restoration, special edition collection cars (like the Continental GT by Mulliner that was also due to be shown in Geneva) and, at the top, more rare, expensive and totally bespoke coachbuilt models like the Bacalar. 

And the next one of those will be? Tim’s not saying. But you could always tell him what your own personal Bentley dream is for “the future of coachbuilding”. If you have the money, Mulliner will be pleased to make it for you.

  • Bentley

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