Bentley is a world-renowned British luxury car manufacturer, and it is a subsidiary that is owned by a German automaker, Volkswagen AG. Bentley was founded by W.O Bentley in 1909, along with his brother, H.M Bentley. The company has initially been selling French DFP cars, but W.O Bentley really wanted to design and build his own cars that would bear his name. That’s why he started making his dreams come true. Eventually, Bentley became a name for the most prominent luxury car manufacturer brands in the world today. In this article, we are going to learn more about the important events that shaped Bentley’s history and how it became one of the most popular car brands in the world.
Essential Events in Bentley’s History
When W.O Bentley visited the DFP factory, he was immediately inspired by the idea to make engine pistons using lightweight metal. That’s why he made Bentley’s first aluminum piston, and it went to service during the First World War. In 1919 he registered Bentley Motors Ltd, and they made their first appearance at the London Motor Show during that same year. However, their cars were not put on sale until 1921 because its development was quite slow.
In the ‘20s, Bentley has launched some of the most diverse vehicles of the era. Aside from aspiring to make a vehicle with his name on it, W.O Bentley also wanted to develop a racing engine, which is why it resulted in the creation of the Bentley 3-liter that has the speed of up to 80mph. During that time, Bentley has set numerous records such as a victory at Le Mans in 1924 that was followed by four consecutive wins in 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930. Bentley dominating the racing circuit, became the talk of the town during that time.
But, despite positive public feedback and impressive racing records, Bentley faced several financial challenges in the ‘30s. The economic problems plagued Bentley, which led to Rolls-Royce acquiring the company in 1931. The production of Bentley cars was halted for about two years until their production plant was moved to Derby. This is where they produced a new luxury sports car that featured the best features of Bentley and Rolls-Royce. W.O Bentley continued his role even if Rolls-Royce owned his company, but he felt unhappy with how things were going. That’s why as soon his contract with Rolls-Royce was finished, he left and joined Lagonda, which is also a British car manufacturing company.
In 1946, Rolls-Royce decided to move to Crewe because it provided them easy access to a community with highly-skilled engineers and mechanics. That’s why with all the latest technologies at their hands, Bentley made a motor car they called the Bentley Mark VI, and it could be driven to its limit. These innovations allowed Bentley to transform and produce their cars into luxurious high-performance grand tourers. This is why in 1952, Bentley released the Bentley R-Type, which is a coupe that has a speed of about 120 mph. After five years, Bentley followed it up with the highly-awaited Bentley Continental Flying Spur. Two years after that, Bentley announces that they would be releasing the Bentley S2, which has a brand new 6.2-liter V8 engine.
Bentley had gone through several developments during the ‘60s, and it led to the release of the Bentley T Series, which they launched in 1965. The car had a smooth performance along with a fantastic design, which marked a revolution when it comes to the sporting heritage of the marque.
The ‘70s proved to be the darkest period of Bentley when W.O Bentley died in 1971. However, the association between Rolls-Royces and the building partners managed to stay on track and made an incredible mark of luxury in Bentley’s DNA. The ‘70s was also the decade where they increased the capacity of their V8 engine to 6.75 liters to which it remained unchanged until today.
The ‘80s marked Bentley’s foundation of its identity because this was the time when they started producing Bentley model lines that we know of today. In 1982, the company launched the Bentley Mulsanne, which is capable of running from zero to 60 mph in just seven seconds. The Bentley Mulsanne became the company’s fastest road-going vehicle of that time. Seven years later, most of the cars that were produced in Crewe were Bentleys, and it began to outsell Rolls-Royce.
In 1998, Volkswagen AG decided to purchase all of the assets of Bentley. Which led to the separation of Rolls-Royce and Bentley after 67 years of being together. The acquisition brought several innovations along with a £500 million investment from Volkswagen AG, which was used to fund the building of a new Bentley and the Crewe factory.
In 2001, the Bentley’s Le Mans heritage was brought back to life as two EXP Speed 8’s participated in the competition. Bentley’s cars finished in third place, and it managed to bring Bentley back to the podium after 71 years. In celebration of their 90th year in the market, Bentley released a brand new Bentley Mulsanne.