Bentley is turning stateside for its newest exclusive wood interior finish, sourcing its first new veneer in five years from American Red Gum trees found in Mississippi wetlands.
Bentley calls the new veneer Liquid Amber, a reference to the wood's perfumed scent. The red-hued wood undergoes a weeks-long natural smoking process to deepen its brown luster. Afterward, the veneer is then transported to Bentley's wood shop in Crewe, England, where it's examined alongside the six other types of veneers harvested from China to Canada to determine suitability, based on a high-burr density, minimal sapwood and a lack of bark growth or structural defects. Bentley says it rejects between 30 percent and 70 percent of all veneers offered.
Raw veneer is then cut to a precise 0.6-millimeter and tested for stability in UV light and consistency from tree to tree. The whole process takes at least 18 months before the veneer is installed in one of Bentley's vehicles, which start at $189,000 for the Flying Spur sedan.
Also known as the Sweetgum tree, the American Red Gum is native to lowland areas of the southeastern United States. It was once used commercially for soaps, adhesives and pharmaceuticals but is valued today primarily for use in furniture, cabinetry and interior finishing. Bentley says it harvests the trees only twice a year due to restricted access to the wetlands where it sources the wood.
Bentley also announced it has begun using slate and quartzite stone veneers sourced from select quarries in India. They're split from a larger stone piece, cured using fiberglass and a bespoke resin, and shaped and finished by hand by the Mulliner coach building team in Crewe.