Bentley has started the New Year by becoming the first car company capable of offering stone interior veneers.
Mulliner is Bentley's Special Forces division: the crack platoon of craftspeople that can be called in at a moment's notice to resolve a besoking crisis as a last resort, when Bentley's ‘standard' personalization capabilities just can't sate a client's demands.
As Wolfgang Dürheimer, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors, explains: "We are the established experts in the handcrafting of wood and leather, and now we are exploring new, fine and rare materials to offer even more bespoke tailoring and choice to our customers."
That's because as the bar for what counts as luxury is raised higher and higher and the average age of a bespoke car owner starts falling, tastes, demands and expectations are evolving and all luxury car makers, not just Bentley, but Rolls-Royce, Mercedes-Maybach and BMW Individual, need new weapons in their bespoke arsenal.
For example, BMW has worked with Pininfarina to develop a kauri wood veneer to ensure exclusivity. The Kuri wood in question is over 48,000 years old, preserved in swaps for Millennia and is - technically speaking - a fossil and therefore one of the rarest yet sustainable natural substances on the planet.
Likewise, Rolls-Royce has used a client's own Mammoth tusk collection to create a truly unique interior. But Bentley's stone sourced from sustainable quarries in Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, India dates back over 200 million years.
Just as impressive is that once treated with a special resin, the hand-polished, shaped and matched pieces are just 0.1mm thick when applied to a Bentley's facia or door panels so that as well as retaining their natural color, texture and tactile, living feel, they're also translucent - offering even more possibilities for personalization such as hiding details behind a veneer.
The stone will be initially offered in four colored finishes: Galaxy, Autumn White, Terra Red, and Copper. "Stone veneers are another first for Bentley - but only the beginning of what we plan to do with this luxurious and unique material," said Dürheimer.