Lamb wool rugs, coverlets, wraps. I’d forgotten about the 2003 Continental’s rugs until now.
The 2003 Bentley Continental Flying Spur came with lambs wool rugs if one ordered the “Premium Specification”. This detail deserves a little reflection.
To purchase a Conti Flying Spur one needed more than two hundred thousand dollars. One rug could not really have cost more than a few hundred dollars. The very nice Norwegian Roros rugs cost about 150 euros. Adding a Bentley crest adds another twenty euros. I would have thought the rugs would have been standard too. However, the rugs are also a bit extraneous. First, I can’t imagine a lot of passengers would need the rugs except perhaps small napping children. The grown adults won’t be shivering in the back of the car as it struggles through arctic landscapes. When is the Bentley cold enough to need these rugs? They have something of the daftness of the walnut pull-down tables found on Vandenplas Allegros, though worse as they aren’t attached to the car in the same way as a piece of trim, even a cigarette lighter.
In the same category might be a set of Bentley slippers or a cardigan. The rug is very nearly an item of clothing as it is worn on the person. It is conceptually related to bedding as well. So, along those lines, a Bentley pillow might be another item for when a Bentley rug is not enough. Bentley haven’t done that yet the rug is given a pass.
Skoda and also Rolls Royce have the option of an umbrella built into the car door. This concept draws one’s attention to the difference made when the equipment is well-stowed in a dedicated space (as per the cigarette lighter). Does the rug or do the rugs have a special compartment? If they do, the feature seems less objectionable.
And turning the matter around, adding the price of a rug to the cost of a family car would not have any noticeable effect on the overall price. Might it not be an amusing act of rebellion for Ford, Renault or Kia, for example, to provide a lambswool rug (perhaps monogrammed) for their customers when they buy a Focus, Megane of i30? I think these cars’ users might even benefit from the rug – and here we find exposed the rug’s paradoxical appeal. It is entirely extraneous. If the mainstream car has a rug it is for a need and not a want. And the satisfaction of fictional wants is perhaps the essence of Bentley; the rug is the cherry exposing the nature of the cake.
With that in mind, I would urge the volume makers to wage class warfare on Bentley by supplying lambswool rugs on all their cars (and the colour combinations would look very attractive too). Fitted luggage would also be a genuinely useful and provocative accessory too, something that all users would benefit from but also a statement about the democratic worth of cars built to an appropriate and not excessive standard.
(This article was based entirely on the notion that by “rug” Bentley referred to a thick warm cloth used a coverlet or lap robe, a “thick woolen coverlet or wrap, used especially when travelling” (OED). Less likely is that it is a shaped garment worn by horses for protection or warmth. If we assume it might also mean a covering for the floor in which case an entirely different but equally valid critique of Bentley is in order.
The ambiguous nature of the word rug became apparent to me after an image search produced pictures of floor mats and ghastly lambskin seat covers made specially for Bentley cars.