The British Luxury Automaker, Bentley is a subsidiary of the German manufacturer Volkswagen AG. The company was however founded in 1919 by W.O Bentley and his brother H.M Bentley. In the beginning the company was primarily involved in the sale of French DFP cars. But Walter’s interest in the design and manufacture of his own rang of vehicles would see the birth of the Bentley Brand.
Walter’s interest in the manufacture of automobiles began when he visited the DFP factory and was inspired by the idea of using lightweight metal to make engine pistons. This would eventually lead to the production of Bentley’s first aluminum pistons. These would later be used in World War I. Bentley Motors Ltd was officially established in 1919 and its made its first appearance at the London Motor Show later that year.
It was in the 20s that the company produced some of its most iconic vehicles. In that era, the company had an idea of developing a racing engine which resulted in the creation of the Bentley 3-litre engine that provided a top speed of 80 mph. This engine set numerous records including consecutive Le Mans victories in 1927 to 1939.
Despite public acclaim, the company would struggle in the 30 with financial difficulties. To alleviate these problems, Rolls-Royce acquired the company in 1931. Production would halt for about 2 years as the company went about moving its operations to Derby. Walter would leave Rolls Royce to join Lagonda and his contract expired in 1935.
Bentley 1939 – 1979
In 1946, the company moved operations to a site in Crewe, for the easy access of highly skilled engineers and mechanics. This would prove to be one of the best decisions the company ever made as they were able to use the newly available resources to create the Bentley Mark VI. These same resources also made it possible for the company to transform the Bentley brand into a luxurious, high performance vehicle. In 1952, the Bentley R-Type Continental Coupe with a top speed of 120mph was released. It was quickly followed by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur in 1957.
Two years later, the company announced the release of the Bentley S2 which had a new 6.2 liter V8 engine. The few coming years would see significant growth in the 60s, including the launch of the Bentley T series in 1965. The series’ smooth performance gave the car a sportier feel which increased the brand’s popularity.
The brand’s founder W.O Bentley died in 1971. But even in this dark period the brand continued to excel, positioning itself as the worlds-leading luxury car maker. A standard size for all Bentleys was also established during this period and has remained unchanged to date.
Bentley 1979- Present Day
It was in the 80s that the brand finally began to come into its own, earning a reputation and identity that would remain unchanged to date. In 1982, the Bentley Mulsanne was lunched. This new release could go from 0 to 60 mph in 7 seconds, making it one of the fastest road vehicles of the time. By 1989, Bentleys were outselling Rolls Royce Models.
It was not surprising then that Bentley was acquired by Volkswagen in 1998. The German automaker purchased all Bentley’s assets which meant that Rolls Royce and Bentley would soon become separate entities for the first time in 67 years. The deal would bring new technologies as well as an infusion of €500 million in capital from Volkswagen. Most of these funds went into the creation of a new Bentley factory. To celebrate 90 years of the company’s existence, Bentley released the brand new Bentley Mulsanne in 2009.
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