I recently spent the better part of a week driving a brand new 2013 Bentley Mulsanne, and was really impressed by the sheer beauty and solid performance of the $347,000 vehicle.
But what really stood out was how my life changed once I got behind the wheel. Over those five days, I met new people, was invited to parties, and was given a lot more respect than usual on the streets of New York.
The afternoon I picked up the Mulsanne, I asked around our staff to see who would like a ride, thinking that it would be good to get others' thoughts on the car. My e-mail got no written responses. Instead, people just shouted and hurried over to my desk. Some of them, I had never met before.
After our staff drive, I took the car to see my parents in Westchester, and got much the same reaction. Word of the Bentley spread quickly among extended family members, and I got an unexpected invitation to brunch. Unsurprisingly, that meal was followed by another group drive.
Most of the people I deal with on a regular basis cannot afford a Bentley, and are not car junkies. But they all understood the allure of the Mulsanne.
I got more attention from total strangers, too, especially in the form of envious looks from pedestrians (matched only by my time my time with the 1966 Mustang).
On several occasions, other drivers let me pass when they clearly had the right of way. When I put the Mulsanne in a parking garage, the attendant gave it the spot nearest the exit (though he was surely as afraid of scratching it as I was, so likely did not want to go too far).
The Mulsanne is, of course, an extremely well made car. It is surprisingly quick and handles very well for its size and weight. It is incredibly comfortable and loaded with great features, including massage seats and leather and wood interior.
But those qualities, which can be found in plenty of cars, do not justify the $300,000 price tag. That's where the quality of life comes in: Owning a Mulsanne is a sign that you are successful (financially, at least). Bentleys cost so much money because they are Bentleys, and everyone knows it.
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