By on November 14, 2013
2013_Bentley_Continental GT V8_18486_11

Is that logo worth $160?

Far be it from me to criticize others for trying to leverage profit. I like capitalism, so charging rich folks ridiculous amounts of money for trifles only the hoi oligoi can afford is just ducky with me. Some years ago (you can figure out when from the prices) I remember reading an automotive column at the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal which said that when you’re buying an expensive German car, a S-Klasse Mercedes Benz or a BMW 7 Series, you have to be careful when checking off items on the options list, because you can easily turn a $80,000 car into one nicely into the six figures. My thought at the time was that not many folks were scrimping to make the payments on an S or 7 and that if you could genuinely afford spending 80 grand on a car, you could probably swing the payments on one costing 25 or 30 percent more. Still, the prices that companies like Porsche and Ferrari charge for some of their optional features are worthy of note, and possibly mockery for the seller and buyers as well. Well, you can put Terry Southern’s Magic Christion on the DVD player or  cue up Badfinger’s Come And Get It, because today we’re going to look at how some fools part with their money, sonny.

Now and then you read something and you actually have some knowledge of the topic. My day job is running a one-man custom machine embroidery shop and a lot of the work that I do is for car and motorcycle enthusiasts and clubs. I regularly embroider leather and I’ve worked on some upholstery, so while reading the Autoextremist’s review of a 2014 Bentley Flying Spur that had almost $40,000 worth of options added to a $200K base price, it caught my eye that part of that forty thousand dollars was $640 for “Emblem stitching”, embroidering the winged Bentley logo on the seat headrests. By my estimation, Bentley charging $640 for embellishing the four headrests with the company logo has a profit margin of greater than 96% (assuming their embroidery equipment is already paid for). Nice work if you can get it.

For $640, I'd embroidery the entire car on jackets for you and a passenger, with matching baseball caps. Jacket: Reed Sportswear.

For $640, I’d probably embroider the entire car on jackets for you and a passenger, with matching baseball caps, maybe for three people even. Jacket: Reed Sportswear.

To give you some perspective, I was once asked by the owner of a 1978 Corvette if I could embroider the ‘Vette’s 25th Anniversary logo on the new leather seat covers he was putting in the car. I think that I charged him $75, most of it for digitizing the logo into an embroidery design, a one time fee, and since I was working on an already constructed item and needed to take special steps to be able to get it hooped and on the machine I charged a lot more for the actual stitching than I would normally charge for just embroidering a flat, blank piece of leather. Assuming I already had the design digitized, if someone gave me a piece of leather and asked me to embroider something with a stitch count similar to that of the Bentley logo, for one item I’d charge no more than $15 and for quantity contract work $5 or less, including labor and profit. The equipment isn’t cheap, a modern, single head embroidery machine today runs maybe $12,000-$15,000 new, but that’s peanuts compared to most of the machinery in Bentley’s Crewe factory. Even used in limited production, at $160 a logo, embroidery equipment gets amortized pretty quickly. Also, a logo like that takes only minutes to stitch, so labor costs for someone to operate and watch the machine are minimal. Bentley is charging $640 for about $20 worth of embroidery. Of course, if they have to match a customer’s request for a specific color thread, costs do go up. A 5000 meter spool of embroidery thread, good for hundreds, maybe thousands, of logos, costs about $7.

As I said at the outset, I don’t have a problem with making a profit and I certainly don’t object to charging people to put logos on things, since that’s what I do, but for 640 bucks, I’d not only embroider your logo on the leather for a carfull of of headrests, I’d put the logo and a detailed embroidery of the car itself on a couple of made in the U.S.A. matching Nappa leather jackets, jacket price included. I guess I have to figure out how to market my embroidery services to Bentley buyers.

Ronnie Schreiber edits  Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading. RJS

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66 Comments on “Bentley’s $640 Embroidered Logos Emblematic of High Priced Options From Luxury Marques...”


  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Really VAG, dinging your buyers on the 200K cars? For this kind of money I want a built in blow-job machine standard let alone stitched logos.

  • avatar
    DeeDub

    You OK with Chinese-sourced parts?

    youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=tsO5hdrh9XU

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I could make a joke about how its not big enough, but I’m above such rhetoric…

      If Maybach had offered this feature they might still be around.

      • 0 avatar
        blowfish

        perhaps it wasn’t the auspicious time for maybach to enter the market.
        even the 600 never sold too many then.
        i think it was ~3000 cars sold then.
        they were made till the 80s.
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_600

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_Type_300

        these were sold more though.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          The 600 limousine you’ve included was perceived as a prestigious limousine, I’m guessing the Maybach was not. I think Maybach could have worked but it should have been closer to 600 Pullman (in perception) than an upscale S-class.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Yeah, that was a real turn on!

  • avatar
    segfault

    The Flying Spur in the linked article is beautiful, but the side profile looks a little too much like a Passat for my liking. Also, I’m shocked that they still have “warts” on the door handles for the keyless access system, when some manufacturers like VW have a seamlessly painted sensor.

  • avatar
    jmo

    I’d assume the IT & management infrastructure to keep track of 10^12 possible combinations of options is a cost as well?

    Just imagine the owner ordered XYZ leather with ABC-123 stiching but ABC-123 thread is on backorder. So, now we have to put the vehicle aside and hire someone to go around and bring the cars in when various parts arrive.

    Inventory costs, personel costs, IT costs, etc. x 10^12…. it adds up.

    • 0 avatar
      wsn

      If VW can’t handle it, let Toyota do it.

      • 0 avatar
        th009

        Have you ever checked how few standalone factory options are available on a Toyota?

        And Toyota isn’t alone. Reducing the number of options greatly improves efficiency and simplifies logistics.

        • 0 avatar
          snakebit

          When Honda first imported the 1976 Accord, and roadtesters asked how they could afford to put so much content into each of them, Hond responded, ‘you’d be surprised how little it costs to equip each the the same.’

          Near the same time, Ford was asked why did they need such a large option list for cars like Mustang, and they responded that they’d reduced the ‘custom’ assembly cost of each car
          to the point that it always made financial sense for Ford to build them that way.

          Can they both be correct?

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Not really defending Bentley or other manufacturers catering to the 1/2 percent. But your assumption that the margin on the car and on every accessory is the same might not be correct. In other words, the car may be priced at a reduced margin to get the customer in the door; and then he/she gets upsold on various accessories, with very high margins, so that the average margin on the average car may hit the manufacturer’s target, even though some cars may fall below and others fall above.

    Regarding the Bentley embroidery, the question I would ask is that, on a car like this, why should this even be an option? I suppose some “understated” customers might not like it, but still . . .

    • 0 avatar
      el scotto

      Well, the hillbilly-speak opposite of understated is called “showing your a**”. I mean how many times does a Bentley need Bentley cast, painted, embroidered, etched, even branded on a car before it becomes overkill? Not meant at you personally; I think your post are articulate and well written.

      • 0 avatar
        DC Bruce

        My family on my father’s side is “Scots-Irish” which is a polite way of saying “hillbilly” since those people left Scotland to settle in Northern Ireland and then left Ireland to settle in the mountainous, western parts of the mid-Atlantic states, like Virginia, North Carolina, etc.

        So, I get the hillbilly thing. That said, if Bentley is interested (as it very much should be) in protecting its brand image, it should not even offer accessories that would make the car the rolling equivalent of showing your ass. I’m thinking of the Bullit edition of the Mustang GT, a cool concept in the original green with the faux Cragar mag wheels, undone by an excessive number of “Bullit” emblems inside and outside the car. Neither the Detective Bullit character in the movie, nor the actor who portrayed him (Steve McQueen) would have approved of such ass-showing.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    A Trademark infringement suit against for Ronnie embroidering Bentley logos on Bentley headrests would be interesting.

    I don’t think there would be much of a case in the US. Bentley would have to argue that the product is not the car, or headrest, but the logo itself. And that Ronnie is misrepresenting his thread and work as Bentley’s thread and work.

    But if the badge is a product, on its own, then its shape cannot be a trademark, because aesthetic shapes of products are protected by design patents in the US, not Trademarks. And any design patent on the Bentley logo is long expired.

    Go for it Ronnie.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    I have a Bentley embroidery story!

    I was sitting in a moderately posh restaurant [with a group from work], and as they were chatting about baseball and not cars, and my filet was not there yet, I was sort of tuning out. From one of the big windows along the front of the place, I notice a large convertible pull up, with a well-dressed older couple in the front. I couldn’t see anything but the very top of the hood, and the black convertible top. My mind raced through “large, expensive convertible” and came up with a couple of options. I believe the top of the list was an SL until I realized nope, that’s a hardtop. Then a 6-Series, or perhaps maybe a DB9. But they got out, and that’s when I saw the flying B on the headrests and my curiosity was sated. It would have been a long additional hour and a half of waiting before I got to go outside and get verification of what it was, if the embroidery weren’t there.

    So I’m glad they spent the extra coin so I could have earlier satisfaction.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    The ‘rich guy’ (defined as the man with $1 more than you) actually may have a tough time paying for the extra 25% in over-priced options, because the rest of his life is scaled the same way (house, boat, meals, clothing, jewelry, memberships). Rich people can overspend, too.

    The over-priced options issue is not peculiar to high-end cars. Just look at what people routinely pay for jazzed-up trucks. Even economy cars can be pushed up 50% or more – suddenly that $18k econobox becomes the $30k ride you can show off to your friends. Try comparing a base Sonata to the top-end model.

  • avatar
    sparc

    I’m not sure these luxury marques would be viable without these bloated options. Be glad that they charge that much and that they have people willing to pay it.

  • avatar
    morbo

    The only Bentley deserving of $640 stitching.

    washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2013/10/15/alfred-morris-reunites-with-beloved-car-bentley/

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    People will pay extra, so charge them for it. It’s no different than AMC’s Levi’s or Pierre Cardin interiors, or the Cartier/Gucci/Oleg Cassini special editions. Only the price is outrageous for what you get, and that’s part of the allure for rich people looking to stand apart from the rest of the rich people. They actually think it costs that much to do, so shame on you, Ronnie, for spilling the beans.

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      I think this is the answer. They aren’t charging $640 because it has anything to do with the cost or even profit margin… it has to do with “market” will pay. I’m sure their marketing team figured out an amount that’s just low enough that some customer WILL pay. Also I bet this is one of things the dealer will throw in for “free” (like floor mats for us normal people) while you are figuring out how to wire the money from the islands.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        Exactly.

        Suppose that you grandpa pass down an old house to you, which costed him $10k in 1950.

        Will you sell it at $10k, because it’s the original cost?
        Will you sell it at $0, because it’s your cost?
        Will you sell it at $300k, because that’s the highest offer?

    • 0 avatar
      SCE to AUX

      Agreed. People who complain about the salaries of athletes and movie stars shouldn’t buy their product – it’s what the consumer wants.

  • avatar
    FractureCritical

    I get miffed by this a lot from the Germans.
    my 2011 A4 didn’t have streaming bluetooth. you had to pony up few $k to get it as part of a larger package, but the rental corolla I used a few weeks ago had it.

    You have to pay extra for ‘accent’ lighting on any of the three german brands, and pay dearly for it. Ford, Kia, Hyundai, GM (Shall I go on?) charge less.

    And for F’s sake the friggin wood trim bits in an Audi run from $350-$1300 depending on which one you pick. wood trimed plastic for $1300, and about 1.25 SF of it at that! And you WILL pay it or you get the recycled coke can aluminum trim, verdammit!

    and don’t forget the optional wheels. They can run up to $4k on the BMW site.

  • avatar
    SaulTigh

    I watched an episode of “Raw to Ready,” a most excellent series on PBS that chronicled the building of a Bentley Mulsanne. My wife watched it with me and both of us came away believing that that car is worth every penny of the $300K+ that they’re asking for it. The damn thing is practically hand built by elves.

    Is it necessary to spend that much money on transportation? Of course not. Are there still kids starving in Africa (or Chicago)? Probably. I think that the car stands as a testament to the pinnacle of human ingenuity and craftsmanship, and I’m glad it exists and that there are people who can support the factory that builds it by buying one. The closest I’ll ever come is maybe a 3 year old Equus or Lexus LS someday, and I’m ok with that.

  • avatar
    VenomV12

    This is why I like the S Class and I am happy with it. It costs a lot, but not a ridiculous amount, relatively. There are options, but not a lot and they are not outrageous, relatively. You don’t have to give yourself an aneurism trying to pick out options like Porsche makes you do, and at the end of the day, the build quality and tech is superior to almost anything out there. You can load the S550 4Matic up the you know what and still maybe hit $130,000 and be a way superior vehicle to anything north of $200K, even $300K. You can build a well loaded S550 4Matic for about $115,000 which is a pretty damn good car that you can drive for 10 years, which is not bad and short of cars actually becoming self-driving, I can’t think of why you would need to replace it before then.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “This is why I like the S Class and I am happy with it. It costs a lot, but not a ridiculous amount, relatively.”

      Starting at only $92,900? Not ridiculous at all, heck put me down for three!

      • 0 avatar
        VenomV12

        I don’t smoke, that is $400 a month, I don’t drink, that is another $400 or more a month, I don’t own snow machines or jet skis, that is another God knows how much a month, not married, no kids, I don’t buy stupid $200 sneakers or $50 video games. Amazing what you can afford if you don’t do the stupidest of things.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I imagine our ages may vary but I’m in an a similar position as you describe and I still think nearly 100K for an S-class is a tad unreasonable. If those were still built to the standards of the W126 you could make an argument for Panzerwagon longevity but the fact is the German flagships imported into the US sink like a stone because they are essentially shop queens. If you can afford to flush a hundred grand down the drain so you can experience what’s passing for the S-class today by all means sir enjoy it. I could take 1/4 of that and build a kick-ass car and use the other 75K to invest in real estate, but to each his own.

          • 0 avatar
            VenomV12

            I have quite a bit of real estate and my S Class, they are not mutually exclusive, you can own both. Own them in warranty, write off what you can and move on to the next one. Even if you had to pay out of your pocket for repairs for the S Class that had the most problems, the W220 which I had owned before, you are probably looking at around $10,000 or so over the life of the car which is not that bad. There are tons of W220s and W221s on the road, running just fine, so I am not sure where your comment about longevity comes from?

            The point of life is to enjoy your money, preferably when you are young. Stuffing it in a shoe box and opening it up when you are too old to enjoy it or do anything with it is stupid and pointless, half the time you die before you get to actually do anything with it. The key is to find a balance. I find nothing admirable about driving a 10 year old beater for 30 years and living like crap and then finally rewarding yourself with a convertible Vette when you are 65-70, assuming you live that long.

            I chose to cut out crap like cigarettes, gambling and drinking so I can drive the cars I like, live in the home I like and travel when I like. I am always amazed when some guy with a $50,000 truck with a $50,000 plus fifth wheel or boat seems amazed at my car, he is probably spending more than I am overall.

            Also, you are not throwing away $100,000, the car has value, it has value from the write-offs and value when it is sold, it is not like when you go to sell it, it is worth $5. Even a beat to hell with tons of miles S Class will still net you about $10,000.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I have none so for me coming into a windfall it seems wiser to buy some of it and spurge a smaller percentage on a car of any kind. I suppose if I was entirely comfortable I might see things differently. Regarding out of pocket costs I know some of the early W220s were pricy to maintain as recently as 2007 and there was a recent Piston Slap article where a commentator claimed his warranty co spent 7K on his 5 series in a three year period. If you are in a position to maintain the car out of the warranty then by all means but between maintenance and consumables I could see one of these dinging you a few grand a year (although I’m prepared to be wrong if you could produce figures saying otherwise).

            Speaking of W220s the oldest one came out in 1998 so these cars really aren’t that old yet to accurately measure longevity. Will they make it to 30? Time will tell. If I was in a position to spend 100K on an S-class I would opt for the coupe and I would keep it for the length of my life. I believe in buying high quality things and taking very good care of them and using them over the course of many years. Some might say “I’d be bored with it in X years” and that’s fine but its not for me.

            Your other points are well taken, although personally I cut out those sort of vices in order to live healthy in a mental and physical sense, cost savings is simply icing on the cake. Anything you buy could have resale value but I imagine even if I suddenly had ten million dollars I would still remind myself about the 90% depreciation over ten years. For some value perspective below are some quick auction sales on MY03 S500s the top three are beat to hell and the bottom three sound clean.

            10/23/13 SF BAY Lease $1,200 133,468 Below GREEN 8G A No
            10/23/13 CALIFORN Regular $4,200 246,137 Below SILVER 8G A Yes
            10/24/13 ST PETE Lease $3,400 164,412 Below BLACK 8G A Yes

            10/30/13 SAN DIEG Regular $7,000 109,916 Avg 8G Yes
            11/12/13 STATESVL Regular $8,800 117,260 Avg SLVR 8G A Yes
            11/12/13 SO CAL Regular $7,200 119,248 Avg BLACK 8G Yes

            I suppose I am somewhat of a cynic, Oscar Wilde puts it best: “What is a cynic? A man who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing”

        • 0 avatar
          krhodes1

          +1. I make a decent salary, but I also have very little in the way of expenses. Cars are my hobby, I have no problem spending real money on them. Some people have kids and a McMansion as priorities, I have a BMW, a FIAT, and a Range Rover. If I were content to only have ONE car I could probably afford an Aston Martin if I really wanted one.

          • 0 avatar
            Athos Nobile

            Me likes you 2 guys philosophy.

            I don’t share the single/no kids part (that’s individual decision, no judging), but the enjoying the $$$ (and life in general) while young I do.

            A common point I can see between the 2 of you is that you seem to be educated in financial matters. Not everyone has that “privilege”. Don’t get me wrong, everyone should know how to relate to money, sadly it’s a basic skill very few get taught.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Athos

            Be cheerful while you are alive.

        • 0 avatar
          Wheeljack

          $400 a month on cigs and another $400 on alcohol? Yikes! Who spends that much? I would assume the hardcore smoker buys them by the carton which brings the per-pack price down vs. buying a pack at a time. It’s also a lot cheaper (and safer) to drink at home instead of in a bar.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I could see that on the coasts, heck I believe a retail pack of cigs in NYC is $10+

            EDIT: Looks like $14.50 now:

            http://www.theawl.com/2013/07/what-a-pack-of-cigarettes-costs-now-state-by-state

          • 0 avatar
            anti121hero

            .Where I live cigarettes are over 10$ a pack or at least 9.00 for the cheaper stuff, and most people that I know smoke at least a pack a day, some of them a lot more. Pack a day X 30 =300give or take. And Ik in my college days and some people o know have spent over 400 $ in a month on drinking, Iknow it’s an extreme example but especially if you have a taste for finer ipas and crafts, like I do, it’s pricey. It’s more or less the xtra junk that we waste our money on that he’s talking about, I don’t have cable, don’t have phone service, just use wifi, don’t smoke and rarely drink, and I don’t play video games or have any grown up toys. Compared to a lot of people ny age I end up with a lot more money at the end of the month than they, which leaves me with more money to keep my car tip top and save for another one. In my case though, I would never buy new, I would invest my money in something I knew was going to be either useful, “cool”, fun, reliable, or a combination of at least two.

          • 0 avatar
            el scotto

            Well, a carton of smokes was 46$ at Food Lion or about $200 a month for me. I live in Charlottesville, VA; it’s a foodie town, I’m single so $400 food/drinks wouldn’t be looked at twice. Besides, you know it’s a good date when your bar tab is more than food. I also have ex-wives and current children. Sorry to say this on TTAC; my ride rates fair to middling in my world. It’s all what you want.

    • 0 avatar
      mnm4ever

      @Venom, you might be a very nice guy and I admire your love for your S-class, but when you talk about a $100k car as if it is a good value it makes you sound like snob. Many people do not spend that much on a house. And you could buy a $25k Honda Accord that would last 10 yrs and still hold more resale value than your S-class. Its very nice that you can afford such a luxury but to me it is as laughable as the people who spend $200-300K on the Bentley. I don’t smoke or drink either, still doesn’t make the price any less ridiculous for a seriously depreciating asset like a new Benz.

      • 0 avatar
        Mandalorian

        Consider it this way. You spend money on things like food, alcohol, consumables, concerts, etc and what hard assets do you have at the end of the day? Nothing. Cars are not a good investment, but money spent on cars is partially retained. Cars may depreciate, but at the end of the day, you have something.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    That headrest is just the tip of the iceberg.

    BS reported it here many times in the past. The markups on parts can easily get to p0rn levels.

  • avatar
    kkt

    The embroidered headrests are there to let Caroline know you bought the Expensive Model.

  • avatar
    izido

    Great article, Ronnie. I didn’t know you are a hands-on stitching artisan, great work, I always admire people who can create stuff.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Whenever this comes up, I think back to one of my favorite Baruth articles:

    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/03/avoidable-contact-when-it-comes-to-the-options-some-people-have-no-standards/

    It took him a few thousand words to make the point, but it’s this: because of how dang hard it is to build a car as complex as today’s for the price consumers will pay, customization is largely off the table. You can’t have a complex order sheet for every car anymore, just a few basic trim levels that the dealers can move easiest.

    The only major manufacturer who thinks otherwise is Porsche. They take a ton of flack for insane option pricing, but from this angle it’s clear why: you’re not paying for the option itself, you’re paying for the privilege of having it.

  • avatar
    myheadhertz

    Does WeatherTech make FloorLiners for the Flying Spur?
    If so, $640.00 a pair feels right.


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