In the early parts of the last century, well-heeled car enthusiasts would attempt to beat a train—nicknamed the “Blue Train” because of its blue carriages—that ran across France, between Calais in the country’s north and Cannes in the south. According to Bentley, the challenge first arose 85 years ago when Woolf Barnato, chairman of Bentley at the time and one of the first ‘Bentley Boys’, accepted a wager while holidaying in Cannes that not only could he beat the Blue Train back to Calais, but that he could be at his club in London before the train even reached the English Channel. He pulled off the stunt, which many others would then attempt as well.
Bentley is now celebrating the 85th anniversary of Barnato’s Blue Train race with a special edition Mulsanne worked over by the automaker’s Mulliner personalization department. It’s called the “Mulsanne Blue Train by Mulliner”, and it was built with influences from the Speed Six that Barnato drove.
For example, the fluting pattern in the door panels and the rear quarter inserts are similar to those of Barnato’s original car. An image of Barnato’s Speed Six is also featured in the dashboard of the special edition Mulsanne, and the treadplates bear the wording “Blue Train 85 Years”. Finally, the front grille features a square mesh design inspired by the one on the Speed Six.
2015 Bentley Mulsanne Blue Train by Mulliner
The original Blue Train races were influential in convincing the world of the merits of the car. It was at a time when trains still dominated cross-country travel, but thanks to the efforts of Barnato and others like him the reliability as well as the speed and comfort of the car were made clear to the general public.
Bentley plans to build just four examples of its Mulsanne Blue Train by Mulliner, all of them earmarked for customers in Europe. The number four is significant, as Barnato made it back to his London club just four minutes before the Blue Train reached Calais.
The first Mulsanne Blue Train by Mulliner was revealed this week at the Techno Classica classic car event in Essen, Germany. The buyer of this first car also commissioned a few bespoke additions such as a personalized hamper, trimmed with Burnt Oak and Camel hide to match the interior of the car.