Bentley releasing 288 'Le Mans edition' Mulsanne, Continental models
6 versions commemorate winning drivers, but will buyers really care for the significance?
The cars, available only in North America, are inspired by the company's winning drivers at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, arguably the toughest and most famous automotive endurance race in the world.
Bentley is offering six unique color combinations and interior touches to honor six of its past drivers. Only 288 cars will be made – 48 for each of the six Le Mans models.
That number is sort of random. Bentley said that while it wanted to build just 24 of each, to commemorate the race's 24 hours, that wouldn’t have been enough for every Bentley dealer in North America to receive one of each. They’ve all been ordered in advance, which means you can pick yours up this summer.
The cars feature two-piece gray wheels and plenty of Le Mans badges on the headrests, door sills and even on the interior clock. Several options on regular Bentleys, such as the diamond-quilted stitching and drilled metal pedals, are included. As befitting a Le Mans special, sport-tuned suspension and steering is standard.
In questionable taste, the cars are named after each driver, such as the Continental Woolf Barnato. That’s fine and all, but we have to question how many modern Bentley owners care even a little bit about the company’s winning Le Mans drivers. Seems like the marketing department got its hands on the (admittedly cool) biographies of the greatest Bentley racers of the 1920s and 1930s, and liberally extrapolated what their new Bentleys would look like today, were they alive. If they were driving 2-ton, 6-figure German luxury symbols, that is.
Take a look at how Bentley describes the car patterned after racer Tim Birkin:
A formidable personality, Birkin, an ex-fighter pilot was renowned for his willingness to be utterly ruthless with his car to achieve a winning result. Exterior: Glacier White; Interior: Beluga; Stitching: White; Veneer: Piano Black and Bright Aluminum
It seems only appropriate that a car named the Mulsanne would have a Le Mans edition, but don’t you feel kind of funny translating Birkin’s ruthless drive for victory into a Beluga interior? Simplifying his days as a fighter pilot into bright aluminum trim in some rich dude’s interior? Or maybe we’re out of line. We’ll digress.
The Le Mans Spec option will add $26,490 to the base price of your Mulsanne, while Continental pricing is significantly less – at least for us common folk – at $11,750 more than base GT and GTC W12 versions, and an additional $15,770 for the V8. Finally, if you want your GT Speed in Le Mans spec, it’ll add $7,320 to the base price. Bentley is quick to point out that some features may overlap, so it’s best to contact your nearest dealer for specifics.
Can you customize one? What if you’re just dying to have a John Duff exterior but you want Dudley Benjafield inside? Yes, says Bentley. The editions are recommended, but chances are that there will be variation on the interior and exterior colors, as well as the options on each model. Everyone wants to be unique – especially Bentley drivers.
[Sources: Bentley Motors; Bentley Le Mans Microsite]
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