The History Of Bentley Motors

Almost a century ago a man had a dream, to build a fast and good car, to be the best of them all; this man was Walter Owen Bentley, best known as simply W.O., an Engineer born in Hampstead, London. After finishing basic education, when he was only 16 years old, W.O. moved by the passion he felt by steam locomotives decided to work as an apprentice engineer in the Great Northern Railway Company (GNR), but after 5 years learning all he could in regards of casting, building and manufacturing he decided to go further and started his first car company “Bentley and Bentley” alongside with one of his brothers Horace Millner “H.M” Bentley, the predecessor to the later Bentley Motors Limited.

Bentley and Bentley was not a car manufacturer company, it was a marketing company in charge of selling Doriot, Flandrin and Parant French cars, but in time W.O. was not satisfied with DFP cars performance, he realized that the future and success of the company lays on the racing market and inspired by a paperweight he decide to make aluminium alloy pistonsto adapt to a DFP motor, and set this car in competition at the first motor racing circuit “The Brooklands” located in Surrey, England.

The Aircraft Industry and World War I

This innovative idea to use aluminium alloy as an alternative for the heaviest cast-iron or steel, was later applied to build more efficient aero engine for the aircraft industry to serve in the First World War. The Bentley BR1 was the first motor ever designed by W.O. Bentley, back in 1916 in the middle of the war. A rotary aero engine, designed to replace the Clerget 9B engine to power the famous Sopwith Camel a WWI fighter biplane. This engine was an improvement for the British Royal Naval Air Service as its design surpassed the Clerget 9B engine’s horsepower from 130 to 150 and also reduce the production cost from 907 sterlings to 605 sterlings per engine. W.O. creativity and efforts earned him an Order of the British Empire. Later in 1918, the BR1 was replaced by BR2 a more powerful rotary engine designed to power the Sopwith Snipe, Camel’s successor.

Bentley Motors Limited and Car Racing Career

In 1919 the war was over and with it a new era had begun, it was time for reconstruction, for peace, to focus in new ventures, and so in January 1919, in Cricklewood, London, Bentley Motors Ltd had been conceived, founded by W.O. and his brother H.M., turning their aero engines company into a car manufacturing company, with the help of Harry Varley, Frank Burgess and Clive Gallop, the company started to work on their first project the Bentley 3-litre, a 75 mph fancy sporting tourer marketed in 1921. In 1922 this stunning car entered Indianapolis 500 miles race finishing the race at the thirteen position. Back in the 20’s Bentley cars also race at the Le Mans 24-hour race, winning this race for first time in 1924 and attaining the first place four years in a row from 1027 to 1930, the last years with a Bentley Speed Six a powerful six cylinder road car.

Bentley First Luxurious Model and First Financial Downfall

In October 1930 the company built the first luxury model, a Bentley 8-litre a car for the richest people and nobility, though the company sold more than hundred units of this model, in 1931 due to financial problems, Bentley Motors Ltd. faced bankruptcy and Rolls-Royce purchased the company which was really profitable considering the 8-litre was the bigger rival to Phantom II, Rolls-Royce most lavishing car at the time.

Bentley In Recent Years

Rolls-Royce owned Bentley Motors until 1970, that year due to a financial collapse the company decided to sold Bentley Motors to Vickers PLC, this company made Bentley models up to 1998. Back in 1998 Volkswagen, Audi outbid BMW in auction and acquired the rights to develop both Rolls-Royce and Bentley models but not the rights to use the names or logos.

Despite the many efforts W.O. Bentley, never recovered his company, after selling Bentley Motors he started to work for Lagonda, a British Luxury Car company, developing a new and technological engine a V12, a new line 12 cylinder V engine for the potent Lagonda Rapide model a 200 hp car, the more expensive car of its time.

Bentley models had survived up to date, meticulously assembled to satisfy a select group of customers, designing elegant, sleek, sophisticated cars for wealthy and important clients around the world such as the Queen of England and others members of nobility, keeping its luxurious and unique style. The latest models in current production are Continental GT and Continental GT Convertible schedule to get into market in 2018.

Chicago Autohaus offers Bentley servicing and collision repair for Bentley vehicles.