HomeCar CultureWhen it comes to making scents, I'll take worn leather with a...

When it comes to making scents, I’ll take worn leather with a musky hint of motor oil


We all know “that new-car smell.” And there is, indeed, an old-car smell as well. The worst-case scenario is the offensive olfactory evidence that mice spent the winter ensconced within the car’s ventilation system. Almost as bad, the disgusting odor of a milk shake spilled beneath the seat and now turned moldy.

On the other hand, there is that wonderful scent of worn leather with perhaps just a slight, musky hint of 10W30.

The advertisement for Bentley's new fragrance for me | Bentley photos
The advertisement for Bentley’s new fragrance for me | Bentley photos

How cars smell became the topic of consideration when a news release arrived from Bentley, noting the upcoming launch of the new Infinite fragrance, a “layered composition (that) marries youthful sensuality to elegant sophistication,” whatever that might mean.

“Modern and alluring, Infinite embodies a desire for genuine freedom and individuality, inherent qualities in the DNA of the world’s leading luxury carmaker,” Bentley promises.

Infinite “will appeal to those who are on a journey of self-discovery and want to make this a sensory and spontaneous experience,” we’re assured.

“Bentley Infinite enhances the blends perfectly with the skin and gives its wearer a sense of youthful, contemporary elegance and vitality.”

The scent is “designed for active, fashion-conscious men in search of stylish personal accessories with a distinctive flair and world-class quality.”

And you can smell like that even if you don’t own a Bentley. Starting in April, “selected international perfumeries and department stores” will sell Bentley Infinite Fragrance Eau de Toilette for $74 (that’s MSRP, manufacturer’s suggested retail price) or Bentley Infinite Intense Eau de Parfum for $99, or the Intense version of the Parfum for $109, or hair and body shampoo for $34.

The Infinite scent was developed for Bentley by Nathalie Lorson, a native of Grasse, France and daughter of a chemist who worked for a perfumery founded in 1895. She followed in her father’s footsteps and has created designer scents for Burberry, Bvlgari, Chopard, David and Victoria Beckham, Dior, Dolce&Gabbana, Isabella Rossellini, Lalique, Lancome and others.

For the traveling man: But does it fit in your Bentley's glove box?
For the traveling man: But does it fit in your Bentley’s glove box?

I admit that sometimes we automotive writers rave on about a vehicle, and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the Bentleys I’ve driven, I’m not sure I’d ever go this far in describing any vehicle. Or anything else for that matter:

The news release notes that the eau de toilette brings “limitless enjoyment” through “an enticing succession of scents: natural, fresh, citrus top notes combine with the green, aromatic hints of lavender and cedar. These are quickly followed by vibrant heart-notes with bourbon pepper, violet and geranium. The final layer is one of sophisticated sensuality with patchouli, vetiver from Haiti and an exclusive hint of ambergris.

“The contrasting fresh and woody ingredients give the fragrance a masculine energy and a feeling of unlimited freedom.”

But that’s nothing compared to the Parfum, which assures “unending delight… Its strong first impressions are of black pepper combined with geranium, lavender and violet. Its heart-notes are rich in spicy essences: nutmeg, elemi (a valuable Arabian tree gum), Siam benzoin (the balmy scented resin of the styrax tree) and a hint of ambergris produce a totally modern, masculine effect. The aromatic woody nature of the overall composition is completed to powerful effect in the base note: with alluring extracts of patchouli, vetiver from Haiti, Moroccan cedar and moss. A delightful fragrance in line with the times. Endless pleasure for the senses.”

I so want to type, “Now that’s a snootful.” Oh, I guess I just did.



Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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