The all-new 2011 Bentley Mulsanne has been designed to represent the pinnacle of automotive luxury so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that painting the body alone takes a total of 86 hours--nearly four whole days--to complete. That is the level of attention to detail afforded to Bentley's new four-door flagship.
Part of the reason for the extensive paint process is the fact that the Mulsanne will be offered in no fewer than 115 standard colors and that is just the start of the story--Bentley will create any color that the customer can come up.
Once the bare metal Mulsanne bodyshell arrives at the paint shop, it passes through a series of full-immersion tanks, designed first to de-grease, then in turn to clean, condition, rinse, phosphate and passivate the steel and aluminum structure.
At each tank the shell is immersed before being tipped fore and aft to ensure that every single crevice is reached. Once drained, the bodyshell is lowered into an electro-coating tank, where power is increased to 320 volts, attracting particles-in-solution which deposit on the charged, metal bodywork to form, in conjunction with the phosphate, a hard protective shell of corrosion-proof zinc primer.
From this point, the judgement and skill of Bentley's craftsmen come to the fore. A two-coat primer is applied by hand, ready for the color-of-choice to be applied. Each primed body is minutely inspected, sanded--or flatted--using a combination of hand and power tools. Only when the primer coat is flawless will the color basecoat be applied, again by hand, to achieve the optimum finish. Clear lacquer coats are then applied robotically followed by final polishing.
Now that orders for the car are coming in, Bentley has been requested to match the color of a nail polish, a 50-year old classic Bentley and even the shade of turquoise on a food mixer.
The new 2011 Bentley Mulsanne will go on sale later this year but in the meantime check out our extensive preview story by clicking here.