Bentley Mulliner designer Hugo R Chizlett remembers the time his design manager flew to Texas to be handed a lump of sandstone. The customer wanted their new car to match the colour of their house and Bentley’s bespoke Mulliner service was happy to oblige. “He had to pay extra because his bag was overweight,” Chizlett said.
Such is the money to be made in one-off options that ultra-luxury brands such as Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Aston Martin and Mercedes-Benz’s Maybach unit are increasingly moving the mountain to Mohammed: bringing members of the design team direct to customers during the purchase of new cars in order to better sell them high-margin personalisation.
To facilitate this, brands such as Rolls-Royce, Maybach and Aston Martin are even opening their own, luxuriously appointed spaces situated in cities close to where their customers live but with a direct feed into brand HQ.
This isn’t a direct-selling, agency-style model.