66 Magazine Issue 3 Spring 2018 - Page 66

by hand, leaving only the premium material. Next, technology interplays with tradition again, as the hides are cut to template with a digital cutting machine. The diamond pattern adorning interior seats and panelling in the new Continental GT requires 712 stitches per diamond, or a total of 34,000 stitches for one complete pattern. In all, every new Continental GT boasts 310,000 individual stitches inside its cabin. And no, that’s not down to the careful eye of Noel Thompson back at the steering wheel station; a rapid-fire digital stitching press – the AK-47 of sewing machines – whisks through the job, taking around 50 minutes per pre-set pattern. It’s all very automated. All very modern. But then you learn that the Continental GT is assembled in the very same production hall where Rolls-Royce Merlin aircraft engines were built during the Second World War (they still build W12 engines here, by the way, while the V8s are sourced from the wider Volkswagen Group universe and ‘dressed’ at Crewe). 64 66 MagAzine SPRING 2018 You learn that – windscreen sealing aside – the Conti GT is still essentially built by hand. The ‘robots’ here merely take the strain; lifting heavy items for better placement by humans. But you also learn that to upgrade the plant for Bentayga SUV production, £28m has been invested. And that the factory generates 40% of its own electricity through solar panels on the roof. It’s a factory full of contradictions; a place where a car that has more lines of code in its software systems than a Boeing 787 Dreamliner is built, but also where a man fashions millimetre-perfect holes for stitches by sight using something he could very well have recently fished out of the dishwasher in the lunchroom. Come to the source, then, and it’s easy to see why there is no other car quite like a Bentley. Above left and right Bentley’s well-stocked, climate-controlled wood shop features all manner of veneers. Below The finishing shine is applied to a two-tone Mulsanne as it nears the end of the manufacturing line.