Missed your opportunity to buy the Arnage based Brooklands luxury coupe? According to AutoExpress, your second change may be just around the bend. CEO Wolfgang Durheimer told the magazine, “In Crewe you used to see a very nice convertible called Azure – we also had it [a Mulsanne Convertible concept] as a hidden car in Pebble Beach in 2011. I hear from our customers that there is remarkable demand for a car like this, and if we do the Azure, the Brooklands just comes automatically.”
“In Crewe you used to see a very nice convertible called Azure. I hear from our customers that there is remarkable demand for a car like this, and if we do the Azure, the Brooklands just comes automatically.” – Wolfgang Durheimer, CEO
To refresh your memory, in 2012 at Pebble Beach, Bentley held a private event for their customers where a Mulsanne Convertible concept car was unveiled. No one knows why photo taking and the press weren’t allowed and the only images Bentley released publicly were four illustrations including the one above.
I have my theory of why the car wasn’t displayed publicly. You see, Bentley previously built two generations of a large, four seat convertible called the Azure. The first generation was produced for four years and was based on the Continental R, which was a larger and much more expensive coupe than the current Continental GT. The second generation Azure was built on a shortened Arnage platform and was also produced for four years. Towards the end of the Arnage’s lifespan, Bentley announced a fixed roof coupe based on the Azure convertible called the Brooklands. All three, the Arnage, the Azure, and the Brooklands, ended production in 2009.
Neither the Brooklands nor the Azure were large volume cars. The first generation of Azure sold about 116 cars per year over its run. The second generation Azure sold about 200 per year over its four years. The Brooklands was initially announced as ‘limited to 500 models,’ but records show that total Brooklands production was about 150 per year with total production of only 432 units.
I think the reason the Mulsanne Convertible concept car wasn’t featured in a grand rollout is because it wasn’t necessary. The buyers of these specialty cars are Bentley’s best clients and they don’t need a wave of press reviews to make their buying decision. In fact, I think they probably respond more favorably to a private showing. I also suspect that Bentley was still testing the waters for demand. They weren’t sure if their customers wanted another convertible in addition to the Continental GTC or if they (Bentley) wanted to risk cannibalizing GTC sales.
Ultimately, Durheimer’s predecessor scuttled the project. Now that Durheimer is CEO several projects have had life breathed back into them, and I’m sure the company can make a business case for the big convertible.
It’s been long enough since the Mulsanne debuted that Bentley is now ready to expand it into a three car lineup: the sedan, the coupé, and the convertible. Durheimer has already alluded to a Mulsanne announcement at an upcoming car show this year. Several media sources are saying that the announcement means a Speed version of the Mulsanne. Either they are right and we’ll get a good look at how powerful an eventual Azure/Brooklands could be, or they’re wrong, and the Bentley will be unveiling a new Mulsanne convertible.