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Bringing Elegance to Reno


Cruising to the Reno Air Races in Bentley’s flagship Mulsanne


It had been way too long since I traveled to Reno for the annual air races and the last few times I made the pilgrimage, I flew with my brother and friends in light aircraft. In vivid contrast, driving to Reno and back seems a bit of a chore, unless you’re offered something really special for the trip. That was clearly the case this year, when I made the trip in Bentley’s $360,115 Mulsanne.

A Stoic Start, Then Dash
We departed for our weekend adventure on a Thursday afternoon, just before rush hour. We knew traffic might be an issue and we were right. It was one of those times when there’s plenty of free parking on urban California freeways. So the Mulsanne’s prodigious 505-horsepower and more impressive 752-pound feet of torque were of little value while bumper-to-bumper. But sitting in the nice chairs of this big, quiet machine with the 2,200-watt, 20-speaker Naim audio delivering sonic amusement was a wonderful counterbalance.


Once the traffic thinned, the Bentley found comfort in the fast lane, easily keeping up with all but crazed motorists, a group of adolescents that the Mulsanne could easily dispatch on an unpatrolled open road. Closer to Reno, Interstate 80 carves through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in big, sweeping turns. These big curves were perfect for the prodigious, powerful Bentley, even with its three-ton curb weight. The optional Mullner Driving Specification helped by adding a sport suspension setting, crisper steering, and fat ZR-rated tires on special 21-inch wheels.


Acknowledged Luxury
We recognize luxury for flagship cars in two ways; in the objective measurement of overall performance and comfort, and the perception of the brand. That second attribute can be elusive, but it’s vital when prices climb into six figures. That the Bentley Mulsanne has a generous helping of perceived luxury was apparent whenever we arrived at a destination.


We enjoyed front line parking at Reno’s Grand Sierra Hotel during our stay and the Mulsanne clearly dominated a lineup of popular luxury makes. Then when we drove out to the Air Races at Stead Airport, the gatekeepers waved us right in, barely glancing at our credentials. We parked in front of Breitling’s suite, opposite a Bentley GT Speed that was there to race an aerobatic airplane. The Bentley won.


There are wonderful sights and sounds at Stead Field during the Reno Air Race weekend, from the modified warbirds with their giant piston engines to the more recent group of jet-powered racers. And spectators can get arm’s length to these magnificent machines in the paddock area along with tours of new aircraft from single engine models to cabin-class jets.

Despite the colorful competition, the Mulsanne basked in adulation from scores of air race fans, many stunned to find the retail price higher than their own personal aircraft. And since the big Bentley was equipped with a frosted glass refrigerated bottle cooler with bespoke crystal Champagne flutes ($10,340) we played show and tell to a few Breitling managers and fellow guests. All were delighted to witness the obscure glass door between the rear seats quietly glide open to reveal its contents.

Breitling and Bentley have established a great relationship with the two legendary brands. So if the car line isn’t on your shopping list, check out the Breitling for Bentley B06 wristwatch. It’s an impressive timepiece with Breitling’s handcrafted movement.   BRIAN DOUGLAS


Photography by Brian Douglas


2014 Bentley Mulsanne

ENGINE:  6.75-liter Twin Turbo V8

HORSEPOWER:  505 @ 4,200rpm

TORQUE:  752lb.-ft. @ 1,750rpm

FUEL CONSUMPTION: 11 city/18 highway

BASE PRICE: $296,000

AS TESTED:  $360,115



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