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September 29, 2011

Linley? Bentley? Absolutely!

By Spear's

Not too many days start off in a Bentley (or end in a Bentley, or indeed have anything to do with a Bentley), so it was a treat this morning to see and sit in the new Bentley Flying Spur with interiors by Linley

Not too many days start off in a Bentley (or end in a Bentley, or indeed have anything to do with a Bentley), so it was a treat this morning to see and sit in the new Bentley Flying Spur with interiors by Linley.

And who should be in the backseat but David Linley himself and, across the rosewood console with removable humidor and integral fridge, the interior’s designer, Mark Blanchard? David said that he had wanted to work with Bentley for years: ‘I thought the two companies together would be great because we both stand for the same core values: our manic obsession with detail, craftsmanship, are very much in line with Bentley.’

But isn’t there the risk of a collaboration which seems ideal in name but where the parties are incompatible? ‘The most important thing is that the expression of the two together creates something better than the two apart.’

Which can only be seen in the final result, of course. The panels (shiny like a Turkish wrestler preparing for a match) are made from Santos rosewood with Linley’s helix design in marquetry, and run across compound curves, which presented a number of challenges, Mark says: ‘It’s a straight grain – you don’t see straight grains inside car interiors – they’re nearly always burrs, which are much more malleable. We were scratching our heads, thinking how on earth we were going to get marquetry on the compound curves. There’s a big technical coversation we needed to have.’

More than that, Mark had to remake the seats: ‘This interior is quite different to the standard car. The first thing I noticed with the car was the comfort – I wasn’t too impressed with the standard Flying Spur rear seats – I didn’t feel they were comfortable enough. We all agreed that, didn’t we?’

David cleverly avoids answering. Talking about the crossover between luxury brands, he says it’s the chance to give the ultra-wealthy something new and unusual: ‘As luxury redefines itself, the upper echelons come absolutely up here [points upwards]. You have to consistently think of the boredom threshold of the customer. They’re going to go, “Yeah, had one of those, what now?” Have you got the Linley one? “No, what’s that?” Ah!’ he says triumphantly, suggesting he’ll have piqued their interest.

So who is buying the Linley Bentley? One of the things which struck me was that the car in Jack Barclay on Berkeley Square is in fact left-hand drive. Someone from Bentley tells me they’ve sold all ten to China, and David confirms that that’s what he always expected. I say it’s sad that British craft isn’t going abroad and won’t come back. ‘It might,’ he says. ‘It’s a car!

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‘The history of Bentley, all those cars increase in value and they don’t stay where they were sold, they’ll move around the globe. It’s a fascinating insight into the future,’ where even if the British can no longer afford luxury goods, at least we’ll still be making them.

by Josh Spero

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