Parts & Specs

History of Bentley

Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles. The company was founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley (known as WO Bentley or just "WO"). Bentley was previously involved in the production of aircraft engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1. The company is owned by the Volkswagen group since 1998. The company with its central production facilities is based in Crewe, England.

As a separate company (1919-1931)

Before the First World, War W.O.Bentley had a partnership with his brother, H.M. Bentley. They sold French “DFP” cars but they always wanted to build and sell their own made cars. In August 1919 Bentley Motors Ltd was registered, and a chassis with dummy engine was exhibited at the London Motor Show in October of that year. An engine was built and was operating in December 1919, and selling started in June 1920, but development took longer than expected, and the first cars were not ready until September 1921.

It was during a visit to the DFP factory in 1913 that the W.O.Bentley saw an aluminum paperweight, giving him the idea to use the lightweight metal instead of cast iron for the manufacture of pistons for the engine. Bentley used the first aluminum pistons in aircraft engines during World War I.

The company had always continuously financial problems but millionaire Woolf Barnato agreed to finance Bentley in 1925. This financial injection made Barnato the major shareholder and he became the chairman of the Bentley company.

The Bentley Boys

A group of rich British motorists known as the "Bentley Boys" (Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry Birkin, George Duller, aviator Glen Kidston, automotive journalist S.C.H. "Sammy" Davis, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield among them) kept the marque's reputation for high performance alive. This group of race drivers was committed to serious racing for with Bentley cars. They were noted for four consecutive victories in the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927 to 1930. Their biggest competitor at this moment, Bugatti, whose lightweight, elegant, but fragile creations contrasted with the rugged reliability and durability of the Bentley-referred to them as the world's fastest lorries.

In March 1930 Woolf Barnato set a record with his 6 ½ liter Bentley Speed Six by beating the train (Le Train Bleu) from Cannes, France, to Calais, with the ferry to Dover and on to London. The car used was a H. J. Mulliner-bodied saloon. This model as well as the fastback Sportsman Coupe bodied by Gurney Nutting became known as the Blue train Bentley’s.

Car models

In these days customers bought a chassis with engine from Bentley and decided what kind of body they wanted a coachbuilder to build on the chassis. Many customers had heavy bodies build and as a result the original 3-liter engine was often deemed too light and many customers preferred the larger 4 ½ - liter model. The most important model of that period was without doubt the 4 ½ - liter "Blower Bentley" with its distinctive compressor on the bottom of the grille. This car was unusually vulnerable for a Bentley, in contrast to the Bentley 6 ½ liter racer. It became well known in the popular media as James Bond used this car in the original novels. John Steed drove a Bentley in the 1960s television series The Avengers.

Bentley Models until 1931

1921-1929 3-liter
1926-1930 4 ½-liter and "Blower Bentley"
1926-1930 6 ½-liter
1928-1930 6 ½-liter Speed Six
1930-31 8-liter
1931 4-liter

The Rolls-Royce era (1931-1998)

Although much of the fortune Woolf Barnato was used to finance Bentley, the Great Depression destroyed demand for expensive products, and the company was finally unable to pay its debts and went bankrupt. It was sold to Rolls-Royce in 1931. In the meantime Barnato had bought a big stake in Rolls Royce and after Bentley was taken over Barnato was again member of the board of the new Bentley Company under the direction of Rolls Royce.

Rolls-Royce bought Bentley secretly using a system called the British Central Equitable Trust, even Bentley himself did not know the true identity of the buyer until the deal was completed. A new company, fully owned by Rolls-Royce, was formed as Bentley Motors Ltd. Unhappy with his new subordinate role, WO Bentley quit his company for Lagona in 1935. The Bentley factory at Cricklewood was closed and sold and the production was transferred to the Rolls-Royce plant in Derby.

When the new Bentley 3.5 Liter was launched in 1933, it was a sporty variant of the Rolls-Royce 20/25, still some traditional customers were disappointed, but it was well received by many others. Even Bentley himself said: "Considering all things, I'd rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name."

After World War II, the production of the Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars moved to an ex-wartime engine factory in Crewe, Cheshire. Bentleys became slightly lower priced then the Rolls-Royce’s and didn’t have the Rolls’ distinctive squarely formed grille. By the 1970's and early 1980 the sale was bad and on some occasions less than 5% of the combined production was wearing the Bentley badge.

During this period Rolls-Royce went bankrupt in 1970 after problems with the development of aircraft engines. The car division became independent as the Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd., which has remained independent until it was bought by Vickers plc in August 1980.

Under the leadership of  Vickers, Bentley was given back its high-performance heritage image, marked by the 1980 Bentley Mulsanne. The revived image of Bentley as a sporting brand created a renewed interest in the name and sales as a percentage of the combined company's output began to rise. In 1986 the Rolls-Royce: Bentley ratio was 60:40 sales, in 1991 the Rolls-Royce and Bentley sales were equal.
Bentley Continental 1960
Bentley Continental 1960

Models of this period

1933-1937 3 ½-liter
1936-1939 4 ¼-liter
1939-1941 Mark V
1939 Mark V
1946-1952 Mark VI
1952-1955 R Type and Continental
1955-1959 S1 and Continental
1959-1962 S2 and Continental
1962-1965 S3 and Continental
1965-80 T-Series
1965-77 T1
T2 1977-1980
1971-1984 Corniche
1984-1995 Continental - convertible
1992-1995 Continental Turbo
1975-1986 Camargue
1980-87 Bentley Mulsanne
1984-1988 Mulsanne L - Limousine
1982-1985 Mulsanne Turbo
1987-1992 Mulsanne S
1984-1992 Eight - basic model
1985-1995 Turbo R - turbocharged performance version
1991-2002 Continental R - turbocharged 2 - door model
1999-2003 Continental R Mulliner - performance model
1994-1995 Continental S - intercooled
1992-1998 Brooklands - Improvement of Eight
1996-1998 Brooklands R - performance Brooklands
1994-95 Turbo S - limited edition sports model
1995-1997 Turbo R - updated Turbo R
1995-97 Turbo RL - updated Turbo R LWB (Long Wheelbase)
1996 Turbo R Sport - limited edition sports model
1995-2003 Azure - convertible Continental R
1999-2002 Azure Mulliner - performance model
1996-2002 Continental T - short wheelbase performance model
1999 Continental T Mulliner - firmer suspension
1997-98 Bentley Turbo RT - replacement for the Turbo RL
[Edit] Volkswagen Group ownership (1998 - present)
In 1998, Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors were sold by Vickers plc to the Volkswagen Group for £ 430 million, after a bidding war with BMW.BMW had recently started supplying components for the new series of Rolls and Bentley cars, notably V8 engines for the Bentley Arnage and V12 engines for the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. The Volkswagen Group believed that the Rolls-Royce name was included in the purchase, when in fact it belonged to Rolls-Royce plc, the Aero-Engine Company, and was used by the automotive sector under license. It also appeared that the aircraft division of BMW had a joint venture agreement with Rolls-Royce plc, and that BMW was able to terminate supplying Rolls-Royce with a notice of 12 months which would not be enough time for the Volkswagen group to re-engineer the car.

BMW and the Volkswagen group went into negotiations and reached an agreement with encompassed that the Volkswagen Group would produce both Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars until the end of 2002, licensing the name of Rolls-Royce plc. On January 1, 2003, the right to build Rolls Royce cars would be transferred to BMW. BMW got the license from Rolls-Royce plc and paid £ 40 million to the Volkswagen Group, but the deal did not include production facilities, staff, or the intellectual property on the current or future models.

Modern Bentleys

After obtaining the Company, Volkswagen invested 500 million pounds in modernizing the Crewe factory in order to increase production capacity. From early 2010 there are about 3,500 employees at Crewe, compared with about 1,500 in 1998, before being acquired by Volkswagen. It was reported that Volkswagen has invested a total of nearly U.S. $ 2 billion in Bentley to revive the marque.

In 2002, Bentley offered Queen Elizabeth II an official State Limousine at the occasion of her Golden Jubilee. The production of the Bentley Azure was discontinued in 2003, and the company introduced a new line, the Bentley Continental GT, a large luxury coupe powered by a W12 engine built in Crewe.

The demand was so big that the factory in Crewe was unable to meet orders despite an installed capacity of approximately 9500 vehicles per year. There was a waiting list of more than one year for new cars. Consequently, part of the production of the new Flying Spur, a four-door version of the Continental GT, was assigned to the Transparent Factory (Germany), where the Volkswagen Phaeton luxury cars were also produced.

In April 2005, Bentley confirmed plans to produce a four-seater convertible model of the Azure. It was derived from the Arnage Drophead Coupe prototype. In the fall of 2005, the convertible version of the successful Continental GT, Continental GTC was also presented. These two models were successfully launched in the autumn of 2006.

A limited edition of a Zagato modified GT was also announced in March 2008, called "GTZ".

A new version of the Bentley Continental was introduced at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show: The Continental Supersports. The new Bentley supercar combines extreme power with the “FlexFuel” environmentally friendly technology. A muscular two-seater with distinctive exterior and interior styling, the Supersports Bentley is unmistakable in design, craftsmanship and performance. The engine from the current W12 Bentley's was redesigned, readjusted and reassigned in order to achieve phenomenal supercar potency. 0-60 km/h in 3.7 seconds (0-100 km / h 3.9 seconds). 621 hp(463kW; 630PS) 800 newton meters (590ft • lbf) at 2000-4500 rpm. The Continental Supersports is the fastest and most powerful production Bentley ever.

Bentley sales continued to rise, and in 2005 8627 cars were sold worldwide of which 3,654 units in the United States. In 2007, the 10,000 cars per year threshold was crossed for the first time in the history of the company with sales of 10,014 cars. For 2007, a record profit of € 155 million was announced. However, its global sales plunged 50 percent to 4,616 vehicles in 2009 (with U.S. deliveries fell 49% to 1,433 vehicles) and it suffered an operating loss of € 194 million, compared to a profit of € 10 million in 2008.

Current models

2010 -Bentley Mulsanne
2009 - Bentley Continental GTC Speed
2008 - Bentley Continental Flying Spur Speed
2008 - Bentley Continental GT Speed
2008 - Bentley Brooklands
2006 - Bentley Continental GTC
2006 - Bentley Azure
2005 - Bentley Continental Flying Spur
2003 - Bentley Continental GT
1998 - Bentley Arnage

Old models

1921-1929 3 Litre
1926-1930 4 ½ Litre & "Blower Bentley"
1926-1930 6 ½ Litre
1928-1930 6 ½ Litre Speed Six
1930-1931 8 Litre
1931 4 Litre
1933-1937 3 ½ Litre
1936-1939 4 ¼ Litre
1939-1941 Mark V
1939 Mark V
1946-1952 Mark VI
1952-1955 R Type
1955-1959 S1
1959-1962 S2
1962-1965 S3
1965-1980 T-series
1965-1977 T1
1977-1980 T2
1971-1984 Corniche
1984-1995 Continental Convertible
1992-1995 Continental Turbo
1975-1986 Camargue
1980-1987 Mulsanne
1984-1988 Mulsanne L Limousine
1982-1985 Mulsanne Turbo
1987-1992 Mulsanne S
1984-1992 Eight
1985-1995 Turbo R
1991-2002 Continental R
1999-2003 Continental R Mulliner
1994-1995 Continental S
1992-1998 Brooklands
1996-1998 Brooklands R
1994-1995 Turbo S
1995-1997 Turbo R
1996 Turbo R Sport
1995-2003 Azure
1999-2002 Azure Mulliner
1996-2002 Continental T
1999 Continental T Mulliner
1997-1998 Bentley Turbo RT