Bentley produces only bespoke vehicles, and its European delivery program operates the same way: everything is customized.
Most visitors to the Bentley factory in Crewe, near Manchester, England, already have placed their order with a U.S. dealer.
The visit is more to experience the Mulliner workshop, home of custom coach building.
Whatever you can imagine and afford, they can do: From monogrammed seats for each family member (as were ordered by soccer star David Beckham and wife Victoria), to a custom color that matches your eyes. The only Bentley color that customers may not order is Royal Claret; it is reserved for Queen Elizabeth II.
A new Continental GT sport sedan or Azure T convertible can require a year's wait, longer for Mulliner customization. It takes time to hand-match and install the wood veneers and leathers for the interior, and hand-polish multiple coats of paint.
As J. P. Morgan once said regarding the price of his yacht, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.” So it is with Bentley, which does not offer a discount for European delivery.
Guests usually are hosted overnight at the charming Crewe Hall Hotel, and a Bentley employee can assist with flight and local touring arrangements.
Bentley picks customers up at the Manchester airport. There’s also a small museum, mostly of early Bentley racecars.
There is ample reason to tour nearby. The nearest town of size is Chester, a walled city whose town center contains Tudor-style timber buildings dating to the 1200s. This was a Roman outpost, and a huge amphitheater is steps from the center of downtown, as is a small museum of Roman artifacts.
Stay at the five-star Chester Grosvenor. Its large, well-appointed rooms will cosset you almost as much as your new Bentley.