Bentley is spending 2019 celebrating a very big birthday – its centenary. And this book is part of those celebrations. But it’s different to the thousands of other books about Bentley. Because Bentley’s book about Bentley costs as much as a Bentley.
The book has been produced in collaboration with “specialist luxury book publisher” Opus. In nine chapters and 800 pages, it gives a full run-down of Bentley’s history over the last 100 years, the significant people involved, the most important cars produced and takes a look at where Bentley might go over the next 100 years.
There are never-seen-before images, “rare historical content” and fresh photography commissioned specifically for the book. Various “friends of Bentley” have their say on the subject, as does the marque’s current CEO, Adrian Hallmark.
Bentley claims this is more than just another coffee table book. Partly because, at 30kg, it’s heavy enough to break most coffee tables in half. Opened up, the book measures a metre across, and there are several gatefolds that double the width. So it would only just fit in a standard-size door frame.
The Bentley Centenary Opus – as it’s being called – comes in three editions. The Centenary edition is bound in the same leather Bentley uses in its cars – buyers can choose the colour – and the hand-crafted badge fitted to Centenary Edition cars is affixed to the front. 500 copies will be sold at a cost of £3,000 each.
The Mulliner edition adds 10 portraits of significant Bentleys taken with the largest Polaroid camera in the world, 56 specially-commissioned watercolours of various other Bentleys and a section of a front-left tyre used by the Bentley Speed 8 that won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003. Buyers can also have photos of their own car – taken by Opus – included in their copy. 100 will be available for £12,500 each.
Then there’s the 100 Carat edition, whose cover is adorned with 100 carats of diamonds. Just seven will be produced – on for each continent – and the buyer will have to stump up £200,000. That will buy a well-specced Continental GT.
Of course, there are more than enough fabulously wealthy Bentley enthusiasts in the world that these books could be sold several times over. So they will be a useful investment for the buyers, as well as an indulgence.
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By Graham King