Bentley's Centenary Opus Book Is a Diamond-Encrusted, $256,000 Monument to Vanity
Owners can insert their own pics into the 66-pound book, which is bound to be used as a weapon in an upcoming revolution somewhere.
Bentley isn't messing around about celebrating its 100th anniversary. Rather, the marque has come up with "the heaviest book ever produced telling the story of an automotive brand," per its own description. It's the Bentley Centenary Opus, a pricey coffee table book outlining the rich history of one of Britain's most legendary automotive brands.
Its most limited run, the 100 Carat Edition will set you back a cool £200,000, which works out to $256,019 using today's exchange rates. It's the kind of book that begs the question: at what point does a book lose its own plot?
I love books, and without all the extras, this is precisely the kind of photo-heavy tome I'd nerd out to. The Bentley Centenary Opus seeks to tell the whole story of Bentley in nine chapters, from its 1920s victories at Le Mans and its rarest models throughout history all the way up to its present-day successes and its future. Designer Ralph Lauren penned the introduction, and current Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark wrote the final chapter on Bentley's future. Publisher Opus got their hands on images never before seen by the public for this book, so it should be pretty fascinating.
Yet exclusivity, as well as options and editions that play to an owner's own vanity, seem to be more of the point of the special editions of the Bentley Centenary Opus. Is it really still a book at that point, or merely a heavy object that a frustrated underclass is already scheming to put into a home-built catapult after they storm their despot's palace?
For one, there's its 66-pound weight, which is approximately one third-grader. You probably won't be checking one of these bad boys out of even the most well-funded library anytime soon. While The Drive previously reported that there will be a less expensive, downsized Crewe Edition of the Bentley Centenary Opus coming out that should be easier to read, it's hard to imagine that these pricier 66-pound objects will function all that well as books. The weight alone will likely relegate it to coffee tables and other more static displays, and here's hoping you didn't skip arm day at the gym if you want to skip to a specific page mid-Opus. These special editions will be nearly one meter wide when opened, with fold-outs that measure over two meters.
"Indeed it is the biggest book ever produced on the story of an automotive brand," Bentley's press release states. I'm more fond of lap records when it comes to the one-upmanship game, but you do you!
Then there are all the customizable parts of the special editions, which start at $3,840.30 for the 500-run Centenary Edition, $15,955.44 for a one-of-100 Mulliner Edition and all the way up to $256,019 for the 100 Carat Edition. Only seven of the 100 Carat Editions will be made.
The Bentley Centenary Opus will be hand-bound in England using the same kind of leather that goes into Bentley interiors, in the color of the owner's choosing. The same winged Bentley badge that goes on the brand's Centenary-edition cars will go on the Opus' front cover.
The customization doesn't stop there. Owners can include their own photographs on "special bespoke pages," and get their names gilded in gold or silver onto the cover of their edition if they so desire. Mulliner Edition buyers can opt to let Opus photograph their Bentleys for inclusion in their books as well. That's right: you can simply buy your way into the book!
There is a cool piece of racing history you'll get with the Mulliner Edition, however: a chunk of the Bentley Speed 8's left front Michelin tire from the 2003 24 Hours of Le Mans. That section of the tire will be inlaid in the inside cover of the Mulliner Edition's clamshell case.
The world's largest Polaroid camera was used to feature ten significant Bentley models in 20-inch by 24-inch portraits for the Mulliner Edition Opus. This is the first time that camera has been used on an automotive project. Fifty-six watercolor portraits on silk paper were commissioned for this edition as well.
The real masterwork of book-as-self-monument, though, is the 100 Carat Edition. The 100 Carat edition is embellished with 100 carats of diamonds, with the Wings badge on the front set in a choice of white gold or platinum to match. Only seven of these will be made—one for each continent.
Call me an idealist, but books are the very medium that brought information to the masses and ensured that the general public had access to the same knowledge as the rich. The idea of a diamond-encrusted book that you can buy your way into is so antithetical to the noble ideals associated with books that I'm not sure what the point is beyond "take rich suckers for as much as possible." If that keeps the original sports car big boy Bentleys on track for our amusement, though, I guess the masses get something out of it after all.