Bentley's 'tremendously popular' Mulsannes flying out of showrooms

Plus Ford holds a workshop for blind drivers, a Rolls-Royce Phantom specially built for an Indian maharaj will go under the hammer, and more Motoring news from around the world.

The 1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom is up for auction in California next month. An Indian maharaja had it commissioned to ride on hunts. Bonhams
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If you didn't know this already, there are 120 Bentley Mulsannes on the road in the Middle East - many of them in the UAE. Dealers says they're struggling to keep up with demand for the company's flagship model.

Sales for the year are already double that of the very best full year of sales for the Arnage, the English car maker's previous flagship.

"The new Mulsanne has proved to be tremendously popular," said Chris Buxton, Bentley's director for the Middle East, India and Africa region. "Historically, there has always been strong interest in every one of the brand's flagships, but the Mulsanne is exceeding all expectations."

The Middle East accounts for more than eight per cent of the company's global sales. Dealers in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are among the Top 10 busiest Bentley showrooms in the world and account for a good-size slice of the regional sales pie.

The Mulsanne, which debuted last year, comes with a new version of the company's iconic 6.75L V8 engine. Each is built by hand by craftsmen in the company's factory in Crewe, England.

Tiger-hunting Rolls-Royce owned by maharaja going under hammer

The maharaja of Kotah, India, Sahib Bahadur, also known as Umed Singh II, fancied himself as a bit of a hunter and so enjoyed the sport that he had a car specially made to ride in on hunts.

This was no Jeep. The custom-made 1925 Rolls-Royce New Phantom, which is up for auction next month at a Bonhams-run sale in Carmel, California, came fitted with a hidden safe, a nickel-plated, hissing snake horn, a mounted Howdah gun (a double-barrel shotgun in pistol form), a rifle stand in the rear passenger compartment, two searchlights (for night-time hunting), a mountable Lantaka cannon attached to the bumper and a machine gun mounted on a trailer.

Rolls-Royce was then based in Derby, England, and hired the Barker & Co coachbuilder to create the rather specialised and definitely bespoke Sports Touring body.

The car ran on an 8L, six-cylinder engine, with a dual-spark ignition set to a low gearing ratio so it could crawl through the jungles of Rajasthan.

The car is expected to sell for between US$750,000 and $1 million (Dh2.75m and Dh3.67m).

Ford reaches out to blind

The folks at Ford understand that the best way to know how a car behaves is from the inside, particularly from behind the steering wheel. What do you do for people who don't usually find themselves in the driver's seat?

Ford recently put 30 visually impaired individuals through some high-speed driving on its Merkenic test track in Cologne, Germany. Ford says the idea was to give blind people a better understanding of how vehicles behave in traffic because, although they are able to gauge how fast a vehicle is approaching by the sound, their calculations might not always be right.

Ford's guests were trained on both automatic and manual transmissions. And, apparently, they took to sticks quickly. According to Zac Bowman at "Being forced to listen to the engine and feel the vehicle under you likely goes a long way toward improving your third-pedal learning curve."

In 2009, Ford put Roger Keeney, who has been blind since 1990, in a brand-new 2010 Mustang convertible. You can see some of the fun he had with the car at

Ford says radar-based driving aids will help visually impaired people drive on their own in the near future.

Ferrari once owned by Clapton and DJ Evans sells at auction

You think Slow Hand had a Heavy Foot? One lucky car owner is about to find out.

A yellow Ferrari once owned by the British rock guitarist Eric Clapton and, later, the BBC Radio 2 presenter Chris Evans has fetched £66,500 (Dh397,470) at auction.

Clapton bought the 2003 Ferrari 575 Maranello new and signed its service book. He later sold it to Evans.

Neither seems to have driven it much. The car sold with only 16,000 kilometres on the odometer. It was bought by a private buyer at a sale last week in Silverstone, England.

Auction manager Guy Loveridge said: "Famous name provenance is always a help. It's a great car and we are not surprised that it fetched such a large amount."

Evans is a Ferrari collector himself, owning a 1963 Ferrari 250 GTO, one of only 36 built and bought last year for £12m, plus a Nero Black 1961 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder once owned by the actor James Coburn.

Creator of Hot Wheels toy cars liked to 'make people happy'

Elliot Handler, the co-founder of Mattel toys and the creator of the Hot Wheels line of toy cars, died last week in California from heart failure. He was 95.

Handler, his wife, Ruth, and Harold "Matt" Matson formed Mattel in 1945, first building picture frames and then moving to doll houses. In 1959, the company created the Barbie doll, which went on to be an astronomical success for the toy firm.

To replicate the success of Barbie with a toy for boys, Handler conceived of the Hot Wheels line of miniature, die-cast cars. The toy was introduced in 1968 and soon became just as popular with boys as Barbie was with girls. Since the little cars' introduction, more than 10,000 different Hot Wheels models have found themselves on toy store shelves.

"He loved coming up with new cars," his brother, Sid Handler, told The New York Times. "He was a quiet, kind man. I think that's why he liked [designing] toys so much. They make people happy."