Designing for the Young Millionaire

Raul Pires and the Bentley Continental GTC both come ashore in Miami.

On November 9, Miami saw the debut of the new Bentley Continental GTC convertible at the new five-star Regent South Beach hotel.

The “Take Center Stage” event was designed to attract Latino Bentley owners, who are a growing segment of the Bentley’s elite owner base. In fact, in just the past two years, Latino ownership of Bentleys in the U.S. has jumped from 1.1 percent to 6.8 percent. The owner base has grown younger as well, putting Bentley ownership squarely in the sights of young and affluent Latinos.

“With its reputation as a great convertible city and its popularity amongst key affluent Latinos, Miami is the ideal destination for Bentley to launch the Continental GTC before it hits streets later in November,” said Raul Pires, Bentley Motors” head of exterior design. “We are confident that these sophisticated customers will be delighted to drive the elegant, yet effortlessly modern Continental GTC, the finest convertible on the market.”

Bentley Motors invited Miami’s top Latino celebrities, VIPs, and media to the U.S. premier event, where selected people were given the opportunity to test-drive the allwheel- drive, 552 hp, twin-turbocharged vehicle. With its combination of superior performance, styling, and craftsmanship, the convertible Continental GTC is the perfect car for today’s young, hip, and successful Latinos.

The 33-year-old head of exterior design for Bentley Motors, Raul Pires, exemplifies the young, affluent Bentley convertible owner. The architect of both the GTC and Flying Spur exteriors, Mr. Pires hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil. When he was just six years old, his father took him to a Formula One race at the nearby Interlagos circuit.

“I was very impressed with the speed and the noise of the cars going past,” said Mr. Pires. “I think it’s where my interest in motor sport started, which then led me to car design.”

At Mackenzie University in Sao Paulo, Mr. Pires earned honors with his degree in Industrial Design. In 1992, he joined Volkswagen Design as an exterior designer, initially in Brazil and then in Europe.

In 1993, Mr. Pires moved to Skoda design, and in the next six years, he completed projects including the redesign of the Octavia, the Fabia Hatchback and Kombi, and the Superb. In the fall of 1999, he moved to Bentley Motors as an exterior designer and in a short two years, was promoted to head of exterior design.

“With the Continental GT, we began a new era for Bentley, a forward-looking design interpretation of its sporting heritage and its glorious past,” says Mr. Pires.

He says he was stimulated by his mission to design a new Bentley that was worthy of its heritage, “to take a sketch idea and turn it into a full-size clay model, developing the surfaces, finding the right proportions. It is so inspiring to use the latest design and engineering technologies to create a new design, combining heritage, excitement, and passion.”

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