Sure you can just go to the dealer and pick up a Bentley that's sitting there on the lot. But what are you, some sort of plebe? Of course not. You need your Bentley done to your specs. And they'll do that for you. For a price.
(Full Disclosure: Bentley loaned me the Flying Spur to chauffeur a friend for his bachelor party. I was originally planning live updates, but then debauchery got in the way. It also just so happened to be a bespoke model. So we killed like 17 birds with three stones. That's a good hit rate.)
In the rest of the world, Bentley's customers are really into personalization. They'll have Bentley build a car that fits their exact spec, and they're ok waiting a little bit for it.
But America is a grab and go sort of society. We eat on the go, we're always on our phones, and when we go to a car dealer, we tend to just buy the car on the lot that's closest to what we want.
That stands true for pretty much every brand, even Bentley and Rolls-Royce. People go to a dealer, see a black Continental GT with most of the options they want and decide "that'll do." It seems hard to believe that a multi-millionaire that can be so discerning in all the other parts of their life would just settle when it comes to a car.
So Bentley is taking a page out of the rest of the world's book and pushing it's bespoke program here in the US. And there's really no reason not to do it, unless you need a Bentley RIGHT NOW.
What bespoke does is tailor the car to your exact taste. In the case of this Bentley Flying Spur, it has an outrageous blue called Kingfisher on the outside, which isn't close to subtle. Inside there are two hides (colors of leather, to you non-patricians), one called Portland and the other called Porpoise. It has 21 inch wheels, red calipers, special wood, and more.
The look is, in short, "the business."
The bespoktivitiveness of the Bentley is not the same as Ferrari's approach where they'll just build you a car of your own design. Repairs to body panels won't require a special mold (though a can of touch up paint is probably obscene) and the engine isn't modified in the least. And it doesn't cost at least $4 million for Bentley to make it. That's pretty neat
And as a chauffeured car for a bachelor, it rocks. The interior is subdued but the exterior color is outrageous. Everywhere we went we had people asking if it was our car and what it was. We also had people glaring at a bunch of 20-somethings getting out of a bright blue Bentley, wondering what they'd done so wrong in life/what we've done so right.
There also is no better way to transport a hungover groom-to-be than in the backseat of a quiet, comfortable, opulent, and rich Bentley. Mainly because he can nurse that hangover by controlling the radio, cooling his seats, getting a massage, and acting like the member of the aristocracy that he isn't. After what we made him drink that night (photos were not taken for a reason), the least we could do was politely coddle him the next morning.
What isn't bespoke is the powerplant, which is still the 616 horsepower W12, an engine that is smooth and silky, but not nearly as evocative or fun as the V8 power that is now offered in the Continental and Flying Spur. But the engine isn't supposed to be in the foreground of the W12 powered offerings, it's there to provide thrust without intrusion.
Same can be said for the suspension. There are four setting for the damping, but I didn't even switch from the softest setting the entire time. This was for comfort, not a blast to parliament for an emergency meeting with the Prime Minister in the back seat. We had no use for handling. We wanted to be coddled, to relax off the mix of liquor or beer that was go juice in college but a death sentence just a little bit later in life.
Was it the perfect car for the trip? Pretty much. Would it have been better in a more boring color? Not really. In a world where Bentley's are becoming more common, do you really want to come across one that's exactly the same as yours?
No. You want to be the only person with that car. And the electric blue here was called loud and odd, but nobody ever said it was boring. That's what you want.
Photo Credit: Raphael Orlove