The bare metal shells shown in the video will eventually become Bentley's new flagship model, and are constructed from a combination of high-strength steel and aluminium using both cutting-edge adhesives and traditional hand-crafted brazing skills.Each body takes 125 man-hours to create as robotic arms carrying massive self-piercing riveters work side-by-side with the coachbuilders at the company’s Crewe factory.
As Bentley prepares to produce the very first customer cars, due in showrooms later this year, the body assembly team are busy undertaking a range of exhaustive tests on the first bodies being developed in pre-production.
During the process completed bodies will be torn apart with specialised cutting equipment to determine the exact breaking point of the seam or weld. As well, the process is capable of minutely measuring the accuracy of finished components and bodyshells – a remarkable 588 functions and relationships are measured in total to ensure complete precision.
Additionally, Bentley uses ultrasonic measuring equipment to analyse the strength and consistency of individual welds.
"During these early, pre-production stages we are exhaustively testing the build process to achieve the absolute precision and quality we are seeking for our customers," explains Mr Gary Picken, Senior Production Manager.
Prospective Mulsanne customers will be able to see their cars take shape, from individual panels to finished body, in a specially designed viewing gallery. It has been created to offer a perfect view of every stage of the build process and watch the 100-strong team at work.
"The Mulsanne has a beautiful and very complex body made from an intelligent mix of high-strength steels, aluminium and composites," says Mr Picken."Within one assembly area we’re utilising traditional skills for which Bentley is renowned right alongside state-of-the-art manufacturing technology."We combine these two different approaches because it is the best possible route to create a car that will be enjoyed by generations of drivers."