Brief History of Bentley
In 1919 Walter Owen Bentley founded Bentley Motors in order to make a quality, fast car… the best in its class. That aspiration remains at the core of Bentley ever since. W.O. Bentley presented a car chassis and a dummy engine on the London Motor Show stand prior to introducing his new four valve per cylinder engine. Introduced to the market in 1921, Bentley quickly became a symbol of performance and status.
The Bentley Boys, a group of British motor enthusiasts that drove Bentley sports cars, would build on the cars fine reputation by taking it racing. In 1929, Henry Birkin, one of the Bentley Boys, helped develop the 4 ½ Litremodel. Despite its size, large wheelbase and weight, the sporting character of the car remained and it won races. Today, Bentley is remembered as a 4-time winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After producing 720 copies of different variations, naturally aspirated and supercharged, Bentley ceased production of the model.
Bentley Speed Six
After the 4 ½ Litre, came the Bentley 6 ½ Litre& Speed Six. The Speed Six was introduced as a sporting version of the 6 ½ Litre Bentley and became the most successful racing Bentley. Even the Criminal Investigation Department of the Western Australia Police operated two Speed Six saloons as patrol cars. Famously, Wolf Barnato, another of the Bentley Boys, raced a Speed Six against the Blue Train, from the Côte d’Azur to Calais, and won.
Bentley 8 Litre
Bentley 8 Litre was a luxury car intended to be the finest chassis for the most luxurious coachwork. It was the last all new model designed by W. O. Bentley, before the company was sold to Rolls-Royce Ltd. The 8 Litre had a straight-six engine with four valves per cylinder and twin-spark ignition and it featured an entirely new four-speed gearbox. The 8 Little could be driven at high speeds without much fuss. Due to its releasing at the start of the Great Depression, the car didn’t sell well and only 100 were ever made. Today, these cars are some of the most desirable vintage Bentleys.
After Rolls-Royse acquired Bentley, the company planned on revealing the new Mark V on September 1939, but war was declared, and Bentley announced that it will cease production. Back at that time, you could only buy a Mark V as a bare chassis fitted with the owner’s choice of coachbuilder. The new straight-6 F-head was a completely different engine from its predecessors however very few Mark V cars were produced.
After the war, Bentley released the Mark VI using much of the Mark V engineering. This was actually the first car which was completely assembled and finished at Rolls-Royce’s factory. The Mark VI standard saloon was also the first all-steel coachwork, however, independent coachwork remained available. This model was very successful and Bentley would sell over 5000 of them across seven years of production.
The Bentley R Type was the second post-war model built by Bentley under Rolls-Royce, replacing the Mark VI. There was no real difference between the RType and Rolls-Royce’s Silver Dawn, apart from the radiator grilles and the carburation. Despite that, the RType was a much more popular model than the Silver Dawn andover 2,300 units were built over four years.
The Bentley S series
Bentley S1 or commonly known as simply ‘Bentley S’ and was derived from a redesign of Rolls-Royce’s Silver Cloud. The S1 had a completely new look, and even though it shared the radiator grille with the R Type, the cars differed with a longer wheelbase, lower stance without compromising on the headroom, softer suspension and better maneuverability.
The Bentley S1 was replaced with the Bentley S2 in 1959. This model featured the L Series V8 engine and improved air conditioning which was made possible by the engine’s larger output. Power steering was also standard across the range and also a new steering wheel and dashboard were introduced. The L Series V8 engine replaced the S1’s straight-6 and offered improved performance.
The Bentley S3 was produced between 1962 and 1965. It was similar to the S2 but the with 4 headlamps (originally introduced on the Rolls-Royce’s Silver Cloud III). The interior was also improved with separate front passenger seats and better legroom for rear passengers. The aforementioned V8 engine was still present, although with minor modifications and improvements.
Purchased by Volkswagen Group in 1998, the Bentley brand lives on today, produced luxury grand touring vehicles in Crewe, England.
Our Previously Sold Bentleys
1922 Bentley 3 LitreSOLD
1930 Bentley Speed SixSOLD
1948 Bentley Mark VISOLD
1959 Bentley S1 ContinentalSOLD
1960 Bentley S2 WendlerSOLD
1952 Bentley Mark VISOLD