Bentley may lack the advantages of a bespoke division that would help it compete better against Rolls-Royce, but the luxury automaker is trying to keep more pretentious buyers happy by creating several limited-edition models through its Mulliner division. The latest project to come from the former coachbuilder is the Mulsanne Speed Blue Train, which celebrates 85 years since Woolf Barnato beat the Calais-Mediterranee Express in an epic train vs car race in 1930. But before we take a closer look at the bespoke 2015 Mulsanne Speed, I will talk about Barnato’s spectacular achievement from more than eight decades ago.

Also known as the "Blue Train," the Calais-Mediterranee Express was a luxury French night express train used by the wealthy and famous to travel between Calais and the French Riviera. It gained international fame in the two decades before World War II and received its "Blue Train" name because of its dark blue sleeping cars. In 1930, while staying in Cannen, then-Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato accepted a wager that not only could he beat the train back to Calais, but that he could also arrive at his club in London before the train even reached the English Channel, by driving a 1928 Speed Six saloon.

Barnato, who was a two-time Le Mans winner at the time, and his co-driver won the race by reaching London four minutes before the "Blue Train" arrived in Calais, thus winning the £100 bet. Barnato was later fined for by the French authorities for racing on public roads.

Continue reading to learn more about the Bentley Mulsanne Speed Blue Train By Mulliner.

  • 2015 Bentley Mulsanne Speed Blue Train By Mulliner
  • Year:
    2015
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    5 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    155 mph (Est.)
  • Price:
    350000 (Est.)
  • Price:
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

The exterior of the Mulsanne Speed Blue Train might not seem different than the regular car’s at first glance, but there are a few details that set it part. The most notable of them is the front grille, which features a square mesh design inspired by the original Speed Six. The grille surround, which usually comes in the same color as the rest of the body, is finished in chrome. A vintage Bentley emblem, also reminiscent of the old Speed Six, was included at the bottom of the bespoke grille. Rounding off the exterior package is a set of black-painted, multi-spoke rims, a feature also borrowed from the car that won the race with Barnato at the helm.

Other than that, the Blue Train is a regular Mulsanne Speed on the outside, which in turn is a standard 2015 Mulsanne with a dark-tinted apron grille and headlamps, as well as new exhaust pipes.

Interior

Bentley has yet to release photos of the car’s interior as of April 2015, but it did mention the additional goodies customers will find throughout the cabin. The fact that this sedan isn’t a regular Mulsanne becomes obvious once the doors are open, revealing custom sills with "Blue Train 85 Years" lettering. The dashboard is also unique, featuring a veneer image of the original Speed Six driven by Barnato from Cannes to London. Additionally, the door panels and the rear quarter inserts sport a fluted pattern that echoes the interior of Barnato’s original car.

The Brits also said the first Mulsanne Speed Blue Train delivered will feature a personalized hamper, trimmed with the same Burnt Oak and Camel hide found inside the car. The hamper comes with leather cutlery holders featuring ‘Blue Train’ embroidery, Robbe & Berking silver plated cutlery, Haviland Limoges porcelain crockery, Linley crystal champagne flutes and an Angora picnic rug. Now that’s fancy fancy, but Bentley should’ve included a hamper for each car, given production is limited to only four units.

Drivetrain

Bentley makes no mention of the car’s drivetrain, but it’s safe to assume the long front hood hides standard, twin-turbo, 6.75-liter V-8 tuned to Mulsanne Speed specifications. The powerplant cranks out 530 horsepower and a whopping 811 pound-feet of torque, which accounts for a significant 25-horsepower and 59-pound-feet increase over the standard Mulsanne. The extra oomph is the result of redesigned combustion chambers, inlet ports and fuel injectors, a readjusted compression ratio and improved boost control.

Thanks to these modifications, the Mulsanne Speed charges from 0 to 60 mph in 4.8 seconds and hits a top speed of 190 mph. These figures make it 0.3 second quicker and six miles per hour faster than the standard Mulsanne.

Prices

Pricing for the Mulsanne Speed Blue Train is not yet available, but it’s safe to assume it will be significantly more expensive than the base model, which is priced from $338,325. Given its limited run, I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go for at least $400K. Unfortunately for U.S. customers, the four units will be sold to European customers only.

Competition

Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II

2015 Rolls-Royce Ghost Series II Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 544480

The Ghost is the Mulsanne’s only competitor in this high-priced class. And while the standard Mulsanne is significantly less powerful and slower than Rolls-Royce’s land barge, the Mulsanne Speed does a better job at giving it a run for its money. Powered by 6.6-liter V-12 that pumps out 562 horsepower and 575 pound-feet of torque, the Series II hits 60 mph in 4.7 seconds, only 0.1 second quicker than the Bentley. The Ghost’s top speed, on the other hand, is lower at 155 mph. Still, that’s quite a lot for a sedan this size.

While some might argue that the Ghost is a tad more luxurious and exclusive on the inside, I think the Mulsanne Speed Blue Train received just enough extra features to compete on the same scale. However, the limited-edition Bentley is still far from the recent Bespoke-crafted Ghosts. Pricing for the Ghost Series II starts from just under $300.000.

Find out more in our full review here.

Conclusion

I can’t blame Bentley for relying on one of its most iconic past achievements to get back into the spotlight, but the Mulsanne Speed Blue Train isn’t as special as the Brits want me to believe. Yes, it’s uniqueness lies in the little details inside and out, but the original Speed Six and the Mulsanne are way too many decades apart to have anything in common. More than a Bentley badge, that is! Still, the limited-edition sedan is indeed a welcome addition to the Mulsanne lineup, especially with Bentley missing a proper bespoke division.

  • Leave it
    • Very expensive
    • Not for U.S. consumption

Barnato’s Custom "Blue Train Special"

The Most Beautiful Cars Ever Built High Resolution Exterior
- image 621210

For many years wrongly assumed to have been the car Barnato drove from Cannes to London, the "Blue Train Special" was actually a one-off Speed Six rebodied by Gurney Nutting and delivered to Aston Martin’s chairman weeks after the race. Rebodied as a two-door, Barnato’s private ride received a longer engine hood, a revised front grille, and a lowered, sloping roofline that made it more aerodynamic than any other Bentley of the era. The "Blue Train Special" is regarded as one of the most beautiful cars ever built on top of being evaluated at millions of dollars due to its uniqueness and ownership history.

Press Release

Bentley Motors is commemorating the historic ‘Blue Train’ race won by the Bentley Speed Six in 1930 with a Mulliner Limited Edition – the Mulsanne Speed ‘Blue Train’.

Debuting this week at the Techno-Classica show in Essen, Germany, just four examples will be hand-crafted in Crewe for customers in continental Europe.

85 years ago, Captain Woolf Barnato, Chairman of Bentley Motors and pioneering ‘Bentley Boy’, was staying in Cannes at the Carlton Hotel. He accepted a wager that not only could he beat the Calais-Mediterranée Express or ‘Blue Train’ back to Calais, but that he could be at his club in London before the train even reached the English Channel. He was, and the remarkable victory has been talked about ever since.

The ‘Blue Train’ Limited Edition is produced by the skilled craftsmen and women of Bentley’s bespoke coachbuilding division, Mulliner. Each features a number of delightful historical references and modern interpretations of design details from the original Speed Six.

For example, the fluting pattern in the door panels and the rear quarter inserts echo the interior of Barnato’s original car. The dashboard facia features an expertly crafted veneer image of the original Bentley ‘Blue Train’ Speed Six. Meanwhile, the treadplate plaques bear the wording ‘Blue Train 85 Years’ and the front grille features a square mesh design inspired by original Speed Six.

Richard Charlesworth, Head of the Bentley Heritage Collection, comments: “The Blue Train is one of the most famous and celebrated cars in the world, and it perfectly embodies the racing spirit of the Bentley. Woolf Barnato was a three-time Le Mans victor, but winning the Blue Train race captured the public’s imagination, and fuelled the legend of the Bentley Boys. By beating the Calais-Mediterranée Express he forever guaranteed the Speed Six’s place in automotive history.”

The first ‘Blue Train’ Limited Edition delivered will also feature a personalised hamper, trimmed with Burnt Oak and Camel hide to perfectly match the interior of the car. Mulliner has crafted beautiful leather cutlery holders and a leather rug wrap-around, both featuring ‘Blue Train’ embroidery. The hamper contains exclusive Robbe & Berking silver plated cutlery, Haviland Limoges porcelain crockery, LINLEY crystal champagne flutes and a 100 percent Angora picnic rug, woven in Scotland.

Robert Engstler, Regional Director Europe, added: “The fact that we are producing just four of these Limited Editions is highly significant, as Barnato famously made it to the club in London four minutes before the train arrived in Calais. The unique design elements bring back nostalgic memories of one of the most legendary Bentleys of all times.”

The Mulsanne Speed Blue Train by Mulliner can be seen at the Techno-Classica Show in Essen (Hall 7). from the 15th to the 19th of April 2015.

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