Ares Design Coupe for the Bentley Mulsanne is the grand tourer we dream about

The Italians make the big British grand touring coupe that Bentley won't

  • Image Credit: Ares
Bentley exited the grand coupe business when it made the last of 550 Brooklands models in 2011. The UK carmaker said it will make 19 examples of the Mulsanne Grand Convertible, but that doesn't count as a coupe. So when a U.S. Mulsanne owner wanted his Bentley with a roof but a touch less four-door-y, he went to Italian coachbuilders Ares Design. And not only did Ares do the thing, they did it magnificently. The resulting two-door is called the Ares Design Coupe for the Bentley Mulsanne, and the first of them was just handed over in Beverly Hills in time for a Pebble Beach appearance.

Modena-based Ares started with a three-dimensional scan of the sedan, then reworked that CAD file into the coupe they sought by changing just about everything behind the A-pillars. A reprofiled roof replaces the old one, and it falls into a new backlight and longer rear decklid. The engineers moved the B-pillars rearward to install longer front doors, and fabricated new side impact protection for the portals and rear quarter panels. New chrome surrounds on the windows maintain the look as if from Crewe. Yet because the roof and doors are made from carbon fiber, they contribute to the coupe's 992-pound overall weight loss compared to the donor four-door.

Inside, Ares replaced the front seats with more rakish thrones, redesigned the interior trim panels to flow with the body style, and matched the wood and leather as if all were factory original. Under the unchanged hood, a tuned ECU means the 6.75-liter twin-turbo V8 produces more than 591 horsepower and 811 pound-feet of torque, both healthy improvements on the stock 505 hp and 752 lb-ft. Completing the transformation, the coupe sits 20 millimeters lower on "a sportier suspension."

One report said that a friend of the California owner likes the car so much that a second two-door has already been commissioned. Ares charges $460,000 for the service, to start, and it takes about six weeks. And no, that price doesn't include the donor Bentley. However, that's a lot less than Bentley would charge to make the swap, since the carmaker won't make the actual car. The Italian firm said it wants to keep volumes "ultra-low," yet, "As long as [Bentley] don't make one, we will continue."

Although we haven't spoken much of Ares here outside of their Tesla Model S wagon, the firm led by ex- Lotus boss Dany Bahar has kept busy in its four years of operation. Previous works include a 1964 Corvette Stingray restomod, 53 Land Rover Defenders fitted with V8s and hardcore backcountry gear, the carbon-fiber bodied Mercedes-AMG G63 X-Raid, a 964-series Porsche 911 restomod, and that Tesla. The company says its first two-wheeled offer will arrive soon, based on the BMW R nine T, along with a Ferrari GTC4 Lusso reworked into a Ferrari 412, and it's already built a prototype of a Porsche 911 GT3 RS Targa. Due for imminent release is the Lamborghini Huracán-based Project Panther, which is a modern De Tomaso Pantera.

Business at Ares is so good that the firm says it will open two more studios go to with its current Los Angeles branch, one in Miami and one in Vegas, in spring next year. Looking at that Bentley Mulsanne coupe, it's not hard to see where the success comes from.

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