Bentley and Mulliner pay tribute to 100 years of British automotive excellence

Bentley is celebrating its 100th anniversary at the 2019 Geneva Motor Show, and it’s doing it in style with a special edition model called the Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner. Limited to just 100 units — one for each year of Bentley’s existence — the Continental GT Number 9 Edition is a fitting ode to the automaker’s centenary. More than that, the special edition Continental GT also pays tribute to arguably one of the most famous race cars in history, the legendary — and supercharged — Bentley Blower that Sir Henry Ralph Stanley “Tim” Birkin drove at the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hours. No timetable has been set on when the special edition Continental GT Number 9 Edition goes on sale. Rest assured, though, all 100 units should fly off the shelves faster than it takes the Continental to go from 0 to 60 mph.

What makes the Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner special

2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner
- image 827215

You can always count on Bentley to bring the wood at an event like the 2019 Geneva Motor Show.

Wood, in this case, comes in the form of inserts taken from the seat of the legendary No. 9 supercharged Bentley Blower that Sir Henry Ralph Stanley “Tim” Birkin raced at the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Nobody cares at this point that the racer actually didn’t win the race, but retired after 138 laps. Nevertheless, the Blower is regarded as one of the most iconic race cars in Bentley’s history. And as is the case with some of the automaker’s snazziest SEs, Bentley’s personalization division, Mulliner, played a significant part in creating this 100-unit tribute to the automaker’s centennial anniversary.

By now, we know what Mulliner is capable of, right? This is, after all, the same personalization group that created beauties like the Bamford X Bentley Mulliner Mulsanne Speed back in 2016. That was a one-off creation that featured an incredible color-creation process called Physical Vapour Deposition (PVD) to darken specific sections of the Mulsanne that were normally polished in a stainless steel finish. Mulliner was also responsible for the Mulsanne Sinjari, another unforgettable one-off piece that was inspired by the Sinjari Falcon and created for Korean designer Sang Yup Lee. Let this be as clear as clear can get: special things happen when Mulliner gets involved in a Bentley special edition project.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner
- image 827211

Expectations are high for the Continental GT Number 9 Edition, in part because it has Mulliner’s fingerprints on it, and because this is the model Bentley identified as its 100th-anniversary showcase. If there’s one SE that needed to encapsulate all the elements that have made Bentley one of the pre-eminent automakers in the world, this is it.

And so, here we are. The Continental GT Number 9 Edition isn’t your typical Bentley special edition.

The luxury beauty comes in two different colors, specifically Beluga Black and Viridian Green.

Either way, the Number 9 Edition sits on a set of fancy 21-inch, 10-spoke wheels. Black accents and a carbon fiber body kit are also part of the package. It’s hard to make out where the carbon fiber bits appear in the sedan, but I can at least tell that the front splitter and the side skirts are made from the fancy material. Speaking of fancy touches, the front grille is the defining design element of the Continental GT Number 9 Edition. Notice the number “9” that’s prominently displayed in the grille of the Continental GT. That’s not an arbitrary number that was thrown in for kicks and giggles. That’s a reference to the car number of the aforementioned Blower that Sir Birkin competed in at Le Mans.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner
- image 827212

The exterior of the Continental GT Number 9 Edition looks the part of a proper Bentley special model. But the work put on the interior is where it turns into a Mulliner masterpiece. I can start in a lot of places, but I’ll begin with the choice of Cumbrian Green or Beluga heritage hides for the seats and surfaces of the interior. I don’t know how they feel in person, but I can only imagine that they’re soft and expensive. Mulliner even increased the gloss levels on the seats, inner door panels, and other areas to give the material that extra pop that it probably doesn’t need anyway. The seat headrests and door panels feature debossed “B” logos. That’s not some random trick that Mulliner is throwing in for kicks.

That’s a nod to the door pads of the 1930 Bentley Blower, which featured the same design element.

The center console also features inspired details from the 1930s, specifically the use of Engine Spin, which is also known as “Turned Aluminum.” For those who are unfamiliar with the finish, Engine Spin was used on race cars and planes in that era because of its ability to limit light reflection. Fix your gaze on the center console and you’ll also see a unique clock face created by British Jaeger. Once again, the legendary Blower comes into the picture with a clock that’s inspired by the race car’s own dials. Even the traditional manufacturing methods of race car dials from that era was used in the creation of the unique timepiece.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner
- image 827213

I’ve gone through a lot of the exclusive touches and features in the interior of the Continental GT Number 9 Edition, but I haven’t gone through what is arguably its most awe-inspiring feature: the wood insert from the seat of the No. 9 Blower that competed in Le Mans almost 90 years ago. Located in the Bentley Rotating Display, this backlit piece is set in resin and situated in the middle of the center dial of the rotating display. That’s literally a piece of Bentley history right there.

All 100 units of the Continental GT Number 9 Edition also come with 18K gold-plated organ stops inspired by those in the No.9 ‘Blower’ and ‘1 of 100’ tread plates.

If you still think this isn’t a worthy special edition model, then I don’t know what to tell you.

What I can tell you is that the Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition is powered by a 6.0-liter W-12 engine that produces 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque. The new W-12 mates to a dual-clutch eight-speed automatic transmission. It’s the first time such a gearbox is offered in a Bentley, and the results are evident as the Continental GT is capable of charging from 0 60 mph takes only 3.6 seconds, 0.5 seconds quicker than its predecessor. Top speed is pegged at 207 mph, making the sedan one of the fastest models in its class.

2019 Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner
- image 827210

There’s no going around the fact that the Bentley Continental GT Number 9 Edition is more than just a special edition model. It’s a celebratory model that pays tribute to 100 years of Bentley excellence in an industry that has shown no mercy for anything less than that. Only 100 units are available, and while prices have yet to be announced, expect the special edition Continental GT to fetch way more than the Continental GT’s base price of a little over $200,000. If anything, I wouldn’t be surprised if the price for this specific special edition model approaches $300,000.

It’s that exclusive. It’s that rare. Most of all, it’s that important to Bentley and it’s 100-year history.

2019 Bentley Continental GT specifications

Engine 6.0-liter twin-turbocharged W-12
Capacity 5,950 cc
Horsepower 626 HP @ 6,000 RPM
Torque 664 LB-FT @ 1,350-4,500 RPM
Transmission dual-clutch eight-speed automatic
0 to 60 mph 3.6 seconds
Top Speed 207 mph

Further reading

2018 Bentley Continental GTC
- image 806330

Read our full review on the 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible.

2018 Bentley Continental GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
- image 728790

Read our full review on the 2018 Bentley Continental GT.

Bentley has created the ultimate collector’s version of the all-new Continental GT to celebrate the company’s centenary in 2019.

The Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner is inspired by Bentley’s illustrious motorsport past and incorporates a number of distinctive features into the world’s most luxurious Grand Tourer. Just 100 examples will be handbuilt by Mulliner in Crewe, England, based on the Continental GT this year.

Number 9 Edition by Mulliner pays homage to Sir Henry Ralph Stanley ‘Tim’ Birkin – one of the original, ‘Bentley Boys’ of the 1920s and ‘30s. Birkin was a Bentley customer, investor and a racing driver, full of entrepreneurial spirit and ambition – and through the determined collaboration of man and machine, the 4 ½ litre ‘Blower’ was born.

No.9 was the supercharged Bentley ‘Blower’ Sir Tim raced at the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hours. He commissioned the production of a series of 4 ½ Litre Bentleys, powered by a supercharger developed with independent engineer Amherst Villiers. Power increased from around 110 bhp to 175 bhp with the supercharger installation. The imposing green car has since become the iconic racing Bentley of the pre-war years.

The Number 9 Edition by Mulliner is distinguished by No.9 badgework and a bold, matching front grille graphic. Customers have the option of either Viridian green or Beluga black exterior paint, with 21”, 10-spoke wheels also in these colours, plus Black Line Specification and carbon bodykit.

Inside the Number 9 Edition by Mulliner customers have the choice of Cumbrian Green or Beluga heritage hides, with increased gloss levels to the seats, inner door panel and other areas. Debossed ‘B’ logos adorn the seat headrests and door panels as they did the door pads of the 1930 ‘Blower’.

A uniquely crafted dashboard features Engine Spin on the centre console. Often known as ‘Turned Aluminium’, Engine Spin was a popular racing car and aviation finish in the 1920s and ‘30s as it limited light reflection.

The centre console of the vehicle is enhanced by the inclusion of an exclusive British Jaeger clock face. Developed through a partnership between Mulliner and British Jaeger, the clock is inspired by the original No. 9 ‘Blower’s’ dials and uses the same traditional manufacturing methods of race car dials from the vintage era.

The Continental GT’s revolutionary Bentley Rotating Display has been further enhanced with a Bentley ‘Blower’ artefact. The Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner features a wood insert from the seat of Birkin’s iconic 1930 No. 9 Le Mans race car, which was removed during a sympathetic renovation. This backlit piece is set in resin and situated in the middle of the centre dial of the rotating display, adding a piece of history to each car.

Each of the 100 cars also features 18K gold plated organ stops inspired by those in the No.9 ‘Blower’ and ‘1 of 100’ treadplates.

Bentley’s Centenary Celebration

Bentley will celebrate its centenary year on 10 July , 2019. From the very first prototype created in a London mews to the phenomenally powerful and exquisitely crafted cars driven across the world today, Bentley has transformed the face of luxury motoring. W.O. Bentley founded Bentley Motors in order to ‘build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class’. That principle has remained at the heart of Bentley’s vision ever since.

Every Bentley built during 2019 will have a collection of carefully curated design touches on both the interior and exterior of the car. On the outside, the badges on the bonnet, boot and wheel centres will feature a specially created metallic finish around the ‘B’ in the logo in Centenary Gold. The bonnet and boot badges will also display the years 1919 to 2019.

On opening the door, a welcome light illuminates the ground with a Bentley symbol, while treadplates highlight the key years. Inside, the Bentley wings and Bentley ‘B’ on both the steering wheel and gear shifter are adorned with Centenary Gold, as is the ‘B’ on the key.

New Continental GT – A Powerful Statement of Intent

The latest, all-new Continental GT combines spirited, focused performance with handcrafted luxury and cutting edge technology.

Lighter, faster and even more refined, the W12 TSI-powered Continental GT will sprint to 60 mph in 3.6 seconds (100 km/h in 3.7 seconds), with a top speed of 207 mph (333 km/h) and a range of 500 miles. [WLTP drive cycle: fuel consumption, mpg (l/100km) - Combined 20.8 (13.6). Combined CO₂- 308g/km.]

Mulliner – Rare by Design

Mulliner exists to respond to the requirements of Bentley’s most discerning customers. Any type of personalisation can be undertaken to create a unique Bentley of individual taste.

Mulliner’s roots date back to the 1500’s – the firm’s original focus was creating luxurious horse-drawn carriages. In 1923 Mulliner showcased work on a Bentley chassis for the first time, exhibiting a two-seater 3 Litre Bentley at the Olympia Show in London – just four years after Bentley Motors was founded.

In 1953, Mulliner coachbuilt one of the most iconic Bentleys ever – the R Type Continental. This model inspired the design of today’s Continental GT. In 1957, Mulliner introduced the Continental Flying Spur, a special four-door saloon built on the Bentley Continental chassis. Mulliner officially became part of Bentley Motors in 1959, setting up its workshops in Crewe.

View the full press release Hide press release
Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Car Finder: