BBC Autos

The Roundabout Blog

For Europe, the Mulsanne fit for a Bentley Boy

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.

 

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When a motor company’s history is as colourful as Bentley’s, basking in past glories now and then is entirely acceptable. Enter the Birkin Mulsanne, a limited edition of the British luxury carmaker’s flagship sedan inspired by one of the racing world’s – and Bentley’s – most winning personalities.

The model – production of which is capped at just 22 examples, all of them earmarked for customers in Europe – takes its name from Sir Henry Ralph Stanley Birkin, one of the original league of gentleman racers known as the Bentley Boys. Birkin, who since childhood had been called Tim, after the popular cartoon character Tiger Tim, raced Bentleys throughout Europe during the 1920s and ’30s. He was instrumental in the development of the famed "Blower" model in 1928, driving the car to victory at Le Mans in 1929 and 1931.

The Birkin Mulsanne follows Bentley’s recent Le Mans package, a limited-production homage to the brand’s historic dominance on the Circuit de la Sarthe. The new car was “born from the idea of how Birkin would commission a Bentley today,” the brand noted in a media release.

The car is available in three colour specifications: Ghost White; a Fountain Blue and Dark Sapphire two-tone; and Damson, a plum-tone that Bentley claims was "inspired by the extremely rare purple diamond." All Birkin Mulsannes will feature numbered door sill plaques, unique 21in wheels and a striking 3D "Flying B" logo embroidered into the vehicle headrests and inlaid into the wood veneer. Each one also includes a set of handcrafted luggage, individually numbered and colour-matched to the car’s interior.

The Mulliner Driving Specification enhances the cabin with diamond-quilted hides on the seats, a leather headliner and knurled metal trim and switchgear, and adds a Sport setting for the Drive Dynamics Control system. Rear-seat passengers get an entertainment system with 8in LCD screens in the seat headrests, along with a DVD player, a mobile wi-fi hotspot, the Naim for Bentley premium audio system and solid wood fold-down picnic tables with integrated Apple iPads and Bluetooth keyboards.

Bentley has not yet disclosed pricing for the Birkin edition, though it is safe to assume that this rarest of Mulsannes will effortlessly outrun the standard model’s £225,900 starting price in the UK (equivalent to about $370,000).