A Look at Bentley Through the Ages

Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley founded his company in 1919 with the simple goal of building
"a fast car, a good car, the best in its class."
1910 - 1919
W.O. Bentley, born in 1888, was an enthusiastic engineer. He despised the cars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: he regarded them as dangerous, complicated and noisy. So it was no surprise to the people around him when W.O. concentrated on building cars that would meet his exceptionally high expectations as a driver, engineer and gentleman.

Bentley Motors was founded in October 1919, and in September 1921 the first production Bentley left the factory and was delivered to its owner Noel van Raalte. The car cost 1,050 pounds, which was equivalent to the multiple annual earnings of a worker at the time. The car carried the Bentley radiator housing, which is still characteristic today, and the flying 'B' emblem.
1920 - 1929
The Bentleys of the 1920s are among the most distinctive cars of this era. And not only visually: the development of racing engines was a passion of W.O. Bentley:
"I wanted to build a fast car, a good car: the best in its class ..." The result of his efforts was impressive: he developed the first 3-litre, 85 PS Bentley engine, which accelerated his car to a speed of 80 miles per hour (129 km/h), which was legendary at the time.

In Indianapolis, the Isle of Man and Brooklands, Bentleys set numerous speed and endurance records. The legendary achievements of the so-called Bentley Boys (a group of wealthy British motorists) and the victories at Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1928, 1929 and 1930 are particularly memorable. Bentley's racing dominance from this period still resonates throughout the world today.
Everything began with him: the production of the first complete Bentley, the EXP I. When it appeared in 1920, it amazed the still young automotive industry
1930 - 1939
The 1930s brought many challenges for the Bentley brand. Despite racing records and public recognition, Bentley Motors ran into financial difficulties. That's why
Rolls-Royce joined in 1931 to acquire Bentley Motors.

Production was moved to Derby, where the "Bentley 3 ½ Litre" – advertised as "the silent sports car" – was produced. It combined the best features of both brands – agility with luxury, power with silence.

In 1930 Woolf Barnato (Bentley Managing Director from 1926-1931 and Le Mans winner in 1928 and 1929) bet 100 pounds that his car would take him from Cannes to London faster than the legendary 'Le Train Bleu' high-speed train from Cannes to Calais. Woolf Barnato won the challenge in his 6.5-litre Speed Six sedan. With its low roof and dominant bonnet, the Speed Six embodied the power, endurance and muscularity of the Bentley Grand Tourer. Crewe's design department continues to describe this design as an important influence on today's Bentleys.

Many racing records and public recognition for Bentley in the 1930s. Nevertheless Bentley Motors got into financial difficulties at that time ...
1940 - 1949
The move to Crewe in 1946 gave Bentley access to a community of highly qualified engineers and mechanics. During the Second World War, they relocated to the busy industrial center. With advanced technologies and a new manufacturing concept, Bentley was now able to build a complete automobile for the first time. One of the first to be built not just as a standard chassis and body, but as a complete Bentley, was the Mark VI. In short, the Crewe factory is still a place where the precision of the present meets the passion of the past.

Bentley Cornich: The Second World War made it impossible for Bentley to market the eye-catching Corniche. When the sky over Europe darkened, only five chassis were ready to go. Only one received a body, the version shown here. Many see in this model the pioneer for the later Continental
1950 - 1959
The advances associated with moving to Crewe in the 1940s enabled Bentley Motors to transform good cars into luxurious, powerful Grand Tourers. In 1952, the Bentley R-Type Continental, a Mulliner coupé with a top speed of just under 120 miles per hour (193 km/h), made its debut. Mulliner was a company that further refined Bentleys. This made it the fastest four-seater car in the world. The Bentley R-Type Continental quickly gained the reputation of being the ultimate high-speed luxury car. It is the last Bentley built without an equivalent Rolls-Royce model for 30 years. Three years later, coupé and sports-sedan versions came onto the market.

In 1957, Bentley launched the new, highly anticipated four-door Bentley Continental Flying Spur. The Bentley S2 was also introduced in 1959. It used a completely new 6.2-liter aluminum V8 engine that replaced the six-cylinder engine originally developed for Rolls-Royce models in the 1920s.

Bentley Continental: The Development of an Icon in October 1953 at the Earls Court Autocar Motor Show
1960 - 1969
In the 1960s, the Bentley Motors family was continuously developed further. In 1965 the Bentley T-Series was presented at the Paris Motor Show and shown for the first time. It was renamed Bentley Corniche in 1971.

Bentley T-Serie 1965
1970 - 1979
At the age of 82, the founder of the brand, W.O. Bentley, died in August 1971. He goes down in (automobile) history as an engine enthusiast and creator of one of the world's most coveted high-performance cars manufacturers.

The business continues, of course: In these years, which were not easy, the cooperation with Rolls-Royce and its coachbuilder partners – like Mulliner – leaves a special expression of refined luxury in the DNA of Bentley. Just as a W.O. himself would have agreed!
In the 1970s, the famous V8 engine was also revised. The aim was to increase the displacement to 6.75 litres – a size it still has today.

W.O. Bentley was just 16 years old when he left school and started as an apprentice at the Great Northern Railway.
1980 - 1989
The Bentley identity was further developed in the 1980s. It was the beginning of the model series as we know them today. Bentley's Le Mans heritage is reflected in the name of the new T Series: Mulsanne, the legendary straight of the racetrack. The Mulsanne also benefits from a new rear suspension design.

In 1982 a powerful Mulsanne Turbo was launched, which sprinted from 0 to 60 mph (96 km/h) in seven seconds. In 1985, the Mulsanne was converted into the Turbo R, the fastest street Bentley in the world. The Bentley Corniche was renamed Continental in 1984: It became one of the best-selling models.
Until 1989, half of the cars coming from Crewe were Bentleys.

1990 - 1999
The acquisition of Bentley by the Volkswagen Group in 1998 brought additional resources, new technologies and even more impetus for the dynamics of the Bentley renaissance. It was announced that Bentley and Rolls-Royce would be separate companies again after 67 years. Volkswagen AG announced that it would invest 500 million pounds in the Bentley brand, its Crewe plant and the construction of a brand new Bentley. This also confirmed Bentley's intention to maintain a thoroughly British tradition.

In the 1930s the Bentley wings were streamlined under Rolls-Royce ownership, erected and fitted with an equal number of springs on both sides. The logo's asymmetry was restored in 1990 and continually reworked to ensure a contemporary look for Bentley's identity. The Bentley logo is designed to embody the new values while respecting the past.

The "Brooklands" model in 1992
2000 - 2009
Bentley returned to Le Mans in 2001: the team finished third and put Bentley back on the podium for the first time in 71 years. In 2001, Bentley announced the construction of the first custom Bentley State Limousine, commissioned by Bentley Mulliner, for the Queen of England on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. It became the first Bentley to be used for state occasions. The brand continues to be one of the most important British automobile manufacturers – and an official supplier to the British Royal Family.

In 2003 the Continental GT was introduced – the first completely newly developed car of this Bentley era. Inspired by the R-Type, the first Continental GT established a completely new market segment: the modern luxury Grand-Tourer.

2009 was another important milestone in Bentley's history. To mark the 90th anniversary of Bentley Motors, the brand new Bentley Mulsanne is launched. It brings the highest standard of modern technology while maintaining W.O. Bentley's ambitions by continuing the traditions of Bentley's craftsmanship and ultimate luxury.
Contemporary model: The Continental Flying Spur in 2005
2010 - 2019
In 2015, Bentley launched the Bentayga, the first luxury SUV and Bentley's fourth model line. It was the fastest, strongest, most luxurious and most exclusive SUV in the world when it was launched.

The brand new third generation Continental GT was launched in 2018. Sharper, lighter, faster and more refined than before, the ultimate Grand-Tourer. Since 2003, Bentley has delivered nearly 70,000 Continental GTs to customers. It is the most successful Bentley in history.

Bentley Continental GT Convertible V8 3, Model 2019 with 550 PS and 318 km/h fast
Bentley Continental GT Convertible (404 kW / 550 PS) fuel consumptionin l/100 km (NEFZ): urban 21,7 / extra- urban 9,9 / kombiniert 14,3; CO₂-Emission combined in g/km: 333; efficiency class: G
More about the brand
The Bentley Motors headquarters has been based in Crewe for over 75 years, being part of the Volkswagen Group since 1998. Sales by the Bentley brand in 2019 increased to 11,006 (2018:10,494) vehicles, thereby hitting a new record. The Bentley brand is defined by exclusivity, elegance and power.
For Bentley, 2019 was all about the brand's 100th anniversary. Bentley celebrated this special occasion with a range of special models, including the Continental GT Number 9 Edition by Mulliner, of which only 100 vehicles were produced. Bentley also debuted the 467 kW (635 PS) powerful Continental GT Convertible in 2019, which sprints from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds.
New Flying Spur
Furthermore the Bentley brand also presented the new generation of the Flying Spur. This luxurious grand tourer has been completely revamped and sets new standards in innovation, connectivity, comfort and riving pleasure. It impresses with both the maneuverability of a sports saloon and the finesse of a luxury vehicle. The Flying Spur is the first Bentley model to come with electronic all-wheel steering, which combined with the active all-wheel drive and the Bentley Dynamic Ride system provides for an agile handling and driving experience.
Bentayga Range
The Bentayga range was very popular with customers in the reporting year. The 467 kW (635 PS) Bentayga Speed and a Bentayga hybrid were added in 2019. With combined CO2 emissions of just 75 g/km, the hybrid is making a powerful statement about efficiency in the luxury segment.