CREWE, England – Bentley has re-created a car from its illustrious past, one vital as a link to this history of its most important models.
The secret? A total reconstruction of the only 1939 Corniche ever made, complete with its highlights of design and technological innovation, the breadth of skills within Mulliner’s bespoking division. The connection is to the Embiricos 4¼ Litre and R Type Continental.
All the skills of bodybuilder Mulliner were called upon to create a technological advance that was to have been launched in October 1939.
The styling of the Corniche was a radical step forward from the traditional Bentleys of the 1920s and ‘30s, introducing ‘Streamlining’ to help deliver greater speed and performance The style heavily influenced post-war models from the R Type Continental right through to the current Continental GT.
The original Corniche was lost in France in 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War.It was extensively damaged in a traffic accident during road-testing in France those 80 years ago. Chassis repairs allowed it to be returned to the plant in Derby, England, but the shell was destroyed in a bombing raid on Dieppe before being shipped.
It was never seen again… until now.
The rebuild was originally started several years ago by volunteers from the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation and the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation but was brought in-house in February 2018 under the eye of chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark.
AT THE CUTTING EDGE, EVEN BACK THEN
Hallmark wanted the job finished during 2019 to commemorate Bentley’s centenary.
He commented this week: “The 1939 Corniche was a clear step in Bentley’s design language – made evident when put alongside the now iconic R Type Continental. It’s a pivotal car in the history of Bentley, demonstrating that, even then, this great British marque was at the cutting edge of design and technology.
“Mulliner’s stunning recreation of the Corniche clearly demonstrates our skill in restoring the greats from Bentley’s back-catalogue as well as making beautiful personalised modern Bentleys.”
The Corniche, as Mulliner’s first historic-car project, is said to have demonstrated the full breadth of the division’s coach-building and restoration skills and capabilities.
Using only the original technical drawings and the skills of the men and women of Mulliner, Bentley’s in-house coach-building division, this unique Corniche has been rebuilt in Crewe using original Corniche and MkV mechanical components and a completely re-made body, identical in every detail to the original.
“It’s been a fantastic team effort,” said Stefan Sielaff, design director at Bentley and director of Mulliner. “We have highly skilled craftsmen within Mulliner and around the rest of Bentley Motors, and they all have huge pride in what they’ve achieved with this car.”
The Corniche will make its first public appearance at Salon Privé at Blenheim Palace in September 2019 and will join Bentley’s Heritage fleet, which already includes WO Bentley’s 8 Litre and the Birkin Team Blower, to be used and exhibited at events around the world.