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Car and Driver: W.O. Goes to Walmart: Bentley Announces Monster by Mulliner

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monster_by_mulliner-2250

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Upon entry to the ultraluxe stratosphere, appearances and history become all. It’s how Bentley and Rolls-Royce soldier on year after year, building cars that are fundamentally more than a decade old. The attraction lies in the exclusivity, the Best-of-Britain allure, and arcane details about the sourcing of materials; upholstery-destined cattle raised in areas with no barbed wire to mar the skin, or veneers mined from historic Indian quarries. And, of course, it’s about who you associate with. Bentley’s clocks wear the Breitling name, while its fancy sound systems bear Naim badging. Strangely, Crewe has just taken a step toward throwing all that out the window with this Continental GT V8 S, called “Monster by Mulliner.”

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Bentley Continental GT V8 S Monster by Mulliner

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It’s not the worst-case scenario that could result from the name, assuming your worst-case scenario involves caffeinated sick-syrup in a black-and-green can. But teaming up with the other Monster, a company that markets a pair of headphones called the “UFC Octagon” and another carrying the name the “Fatal1ty,” is nothing if not declassé—and it’s declassé in the worst sort of New World luxury-aspirants-of-Walmart way.

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Bentley Continental GT V8 S Monster by Mulliner

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Bentley points out that the Monster Conti features “a total 16 hand selected speakers, personally tuned by Head Monster Noel Lee” and that they “deliver 3400 watts of awe-inspiring Pure Monster Sound.” Which would be fine if the car was built for Noel Lee himself as a Mulliner one-off. After all, personalization regardless of taste is the Bentley division’s raison d’être. But the Monster by Mulliner is not a one-off for the Head Monster. It’s a limited-production car “designed to appeal to young professional athletes and musicians.” If that’s the case, why hasn’t Bentley added a set of 24-inch “luxury alloys” to complete the package? Are they an option? Might there follow a “Bentley x Nike” collaboration resulting in a pair of sneakers made from the same materials used to craft a Mulsanne’s interior?

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Bentley Continental GT V8 S Monster by Mulliner

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Our gripe about the Monster by Mulliner is the same Kobe beef we had with the Rolls-Royce Wraith Inspired by Music. It’s perfectly fine for the street to rise up, make millions, and appropriate a status symbol of the landed gentry. Witness, for example, Jay Z and Kanye’s deconstructed Maybach or, reaching back further, John Lennon’s psychedelic Phantom V. But the moment Bentley associates itself with a mass-market product—furthermore, a mass-market product that goes out of its way to appeal to people in all-over-print T-shirts—it rapidly devolves into a very expensive Volkswagen sporting gold-plated headphones. Did we mention that the Monster by Mulliner comes with gold-plated headphones and a special compartment in which to stow them?

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Bentley can’t control what owners do to their automobiles after the sale, something that Mansory thanks its lucky stars for every day. But it can control the partners it associates with when it comes to the products it sells. Because what sells a Bentley is the story, even if owners haven’t the foggiest clue about the brand’s past. Aligning itself with Monster muddies that narrative something fierce. But hey, if this is the future of high-end experience, we anxiously await The French Laundry’s new Inspired by Chipotle menu. In the brave new world Bentley’s imagined, you’d be able to drive your Monster by Mulliner up to Yountville for a taste. Admit it, you’ve always been curious about Thomas Keller’s take on the sofritas burrito bowl. 2016 Consumer Electronics Show

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