The ultimate expression of open-air luxury, the roofless Bentley Bacalar is an astonishing barchetta grand tourer. Its announcement in 2020 marked a return to coachbuilding for Mulliner, the oldest automotive coachbuilder in the world. Limited to just 12 cars, every example was sold long before production could begin.
Open- Air Exhilaration
With no roof at all, the Bacalar is a genuine barchetta – a name given to roofless race cars in the early 20th Century, based on an Italian term for ‘little boat’. Beyond its open top, however, this luxurious, two-seat performance car has virtually nothing in common with those stripped-back early racers.
Powered by an uprated, twin-turbocharged, 6.0 litre Bentley W12 engine, it can propel its occupants to incredible speeds. With a design inspired by the EXP 100 GT, Bentley’s stunning centenary concept car, the exterior look of each car is the result of a collaboration with the individual customer, based on an unprecedented choice of rare materials, exclusive paint options and new design themes.
An extremely rare sight on the road
With only 12 cars ever commissioned, few people will be lucky enough to see a Bacalar on the road. Those who do, however, will be struck by its powerful haunches – the result of a rear track 200 mm wider than that of a Continental GT – and its 22” tri-finish wheels. Unique front and rear horizontal lights add to the forward-looking, dynamic character that was first seen on the EXP 100 GT.
A ‘wraparound’ cockpit design not only allows the interior and exterior design to blend together, but it also directs the air flow over the heads and around the sides of the occupants – combining exhilaration with extreme comfort.
Attention to detail is everything
In the Bentley Bacalar interior, a steeply angled centre console flows seamlessly into the dashboard, before the same uninterrupted surfaces sweep out into the door panels and around the front seats, creating the wraparound effect. Behind each seat is an aerodynamic cowl – a nod to the barchetta inspiration – which conceals a semi-enclosed luggage pod, allowing for a surprising amount of storage inside the cockpit.
The closer you look, however, the more you see. A new, knurled pattern is featured on the air vents, the steering wheel controls, media and climate controls and even the intricate speaker frets. A unique steering wheel, leather door and seat releases, and special digital instrumentation enhance the cabin still further. And with 148,199 individual stitches on each seat, the level of detail is simply unrivalled.
Visionary use of materials
The Mulliner team collaborated with a number of carefully selected artisan suppliers to create the Bacalar. Each one used sustainable and innovative techniques that exemplify the world’s finest craftsmanship, using ethically-sourced materials wherever possible.
Previously unseen materials available for commissioning included British wool, Dark Bronze and Riverwood, reclaimed wood from trees that fell over 5,000 years ago, only to be preserved in riverbed silt. It is slowly air-dried in a controlled environment to prevent damage, while conserving its natural straight grain. ‘Colourstream’ exterior paint, meanwhile, is created using rice husk ash – a toxic by-product of rice production that would otherwise be sent to landfill.
Built to perform
At the time of its launch, the Bacalar was a wholly new coachbuilt car. That meant a whole host of new components – more than 750 to be precise, with over 40 of them made from carbon fibre and nearly 100 formed by rapid additive manufacturing techniques, including 3D printing.
When it came to the car’s performance, it had to be even greater than the sum of its parts. Because the Bacalar was more than just an exercise in bespoke craftsmanship. It was about pushing Bentley performance beyond the limits.
Its twin-turbocharged Bentley W12 engine was built specifically for this car and tuned to deliver a formidable 667 lb-ft of torque and 650 bhp. To test its capabilities, two prototypes were created and put through their paces over a period of 20 weeks, during which they underwent 45 individual validation programmes. They were driven day and night on the roughest test track roads, up and down mountain passes, and through all kinds of weather. The Bacalar passed test after test. Like every Bentley, it is built to last.
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