We haven't returned to the Golden Age of coachbuilding yet — meaning the the century-old, Roaring Twenties process of purchasing a rolling chassis from a manufacturer and delivering it to a design house for one-of-a-kind bodywork. Assuming such artistic reversion is even possible, the emphasis is on the word "yet." Aston Martin announced the formal split of its Q division into three disciplines, Commission for low-volume and one-offs, Collection for precious tweaks to production vehicles, and Accessories for individual pieces. Bentley has made a similar tripartite distinction, and takes us closer to coachbuilding history with creation of the Mulliner Bacalar. In doing so, Bentley adds another super-low-volume, super-dearly-priced piece of hardware to the ranks of such emerging from Europe. Top Gear's Jack Rix stopped by to have a seat in the $1.96-million roadster named after a lake in Mexico and inspired by last year's EXP 100 GT concept.
It looks just as good in the studio as it does in photos. The Yellow Flame that incorporates ash from burned rice husks as an environmentally friendlier means to a metallic effect looks more matte to us, but we have no complaints. A lot of thought and work clearly went into the 22-inch, diamond-cut wheels and their "ninja star" center caps. The infinite detailing inside mixes different finishes for the same materials, including two looks for what Rix dubs "bog wood," and extends to the knurled ends on the steering column stalks. And our opinion is that every Continental needs that ramped console, and at least the option of the sinuous center tunnel lines that create individual storage areas behind the seats for two Schedoni bags. Schedoni, by the way, has made the custom-fitted luggage for Ferrari cars since 1977, and also supplies Lamborghini, Maserati, Pagani, and Rolls-Royce.
One of the most exquisite points about the Bacalar might be a detail Rix doesn't get into, since the detail concerns the continuation series of the 1929 4.5-litre Blower Bentleys that Mulliner is producing for another 12 clients for the same $1.96M price. As Autocar explains, Bentley Boy Tim Birkin's heel created a depression in the floorboard of Blower #2 that he raced at Le Mans. The continuation cars can be such precise copies that Mulliner will ask Blower buyers if they want that same heel depression and other scuff marks in their floorboards. All of which is to say that as finely ornate as the Bacalar is, the roadster is still only the beginning of what can be done — with all hope that will soon include being able to produce the EXP 100 GT's incredible seats.
Check out the video above to take a tour with Rix.