Bentley’s unique ability to combine hand craftsmanship with new technology and precision manufacturing techniques permeates every aspect of the build process for the new Mulsanne, which enters full production this summer. It has released a number of videos detailing the construction of the new car, many of which are online at eurotuner.com and youtube.com/eurotuner.
In its latestest video, you can see the assembly of the car that has a 98-strong team of Bentley specialists responsible for bringing together the body, handcrafted leather hides and wood veneers, the 6 ¾ liter V8 engine and myriad electrical components, employ skills passed down through generations of Crewe car makers. They’re also masters of new techniques such as the handling of the extremely delicate fiber optic cables and a sophisticated electronic alignment system to ensure perfect installation of the wiring harness. Hundreds of exacting quality tests are conducted throughout the build process utilizing some of the automotive industry’s most advanced software.
Once the Mulsanne’s painted body shell enters the ‘build hall’, work begins on positioning the electrical loom (which is pre-heated to ensure the cabling is as flexible as possible) and fitting the fuel tank. Several specialist teams also start working on building major sub-assemblies such as the dashboard and doors prior to installation.
In the dashboard sub-assembly area the fusion of hand-assembly techniques and high technology components is striking. Six team members are responsible for the installation and testing of the complex electrical controls using touch-screen computers. They are supported by two other colleagues who are tasked with hand-fitting the leather top-roll to the dashboard.
Further down the line the new 6 ¾ liter V8 engine and 8-speed transmission are ‘married’ to the car. It takes the team approximately 20 minutes to bring the body and powertrain together, position the suspension and guide the subframes into their locations. It will then take another 80 minutes to secure the powertrain and make all the connections before the ancillary components such as exhaust, front-end module and radiator shell can be fitted.
One of the most involved processes is building the cabin. The team starts with the headlining and systematically work its way down to the floor, fitting the windows, ‘ring of wood’ waist-rail, seats, and doors.
By the time the Mulsanne nears the end of the assembly line it will have undergone over 2000 checks (one section manager alone will need to complete up to 100 checks before releasing the car to the next stage). It will then be fuelled and ready to be driven onto the shake rig and rolling road test areas.