Bentley wants to get into the coachbuilding business

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There was a time when a customer would buy a chassis from an automaker like Bentley and then take it to a coachbuilder to have whatever bodywork they wanted put on it. The practice was particularly prevalent in Bentley's earlier days, but the industry has progressed in such a way – with tighter regulations and unibody construction – that such a practice is no longer feasible. But Bentley wants to get back into that business.

Speaking to UK trade publications recently, Bentley sales chief Kevin Rose indicated that the company is looking into setting up a special division within itself to meet the demands of extremely wealthy customers who want to commission their own coachbuilt custom creations. It's an emerging trend that's seen Ferrari Special Projects build one-offs like the F12 TRS and SP12 EC and McLaren Special Operations the outlandish X-1, and Bentley wants to get in on the action.

It wouldn't be the first even to rebody a contemporary Bentley in recent years. Carrozzeria Touring Superleggera offers the Flying Star (pictured above) that turns the Continental GT into a shooting brake, and Dany Bahar's new coachbuilding outfit Ares plans to do the same. By bringing it in-house, however, Bentley would be able to pick the chassis up off the assembly line at the right time and provide the necessary support and factory backing.

With such an initiative in place, we'd likely finally see a Mulsanne convertible built, along with countless permutations of the Continental family and upcoming SUV. A four-door Flying Spur GTC parade car? No problem. Two-door Falcon sport-ute? Just sign here, sir. The sky's the proverbial limit, and that's where Bentley appears to have set its sights.

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