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History of Bentley

When you think of high-class, prestige cars, a number of iconic British manufacturers come to mind. Rolls-Royce, Jaguar, and, perhaps the most prestigious of them all, Bentley. Still producing cars coveted by the rich and famous (and often those dreaming of being rich and famous), the history of Bentley is one of the great cars, British engineering, and success.

The Early Years

Bentley Motors was first founded back in 1919 in the village of Cricklewood by English engineer Walter Owen Bentley. Having started out selling French cars, W.O, as he liked to be known, always dreamed of designing and building his own cars. Working with ex-military engineers, W.O debuted his first engine at the London Motor Show. The cars were well known for being durable and fast, with an early high point being Bentley’s entry into the Indy 500 in 1922.

Le Mans

It was at Le Mans where the company would really make its name. A group of wealthy British drivers became known as ‘The Bentley Boys’ for their preference for the cars of the same name. And it was easy to see why, with victories at Le Mans across four consecutive years from 1927 to 1930. One of the cars they favoured was the famous Bentley Blower No.1.

The Great Depression

Disaster struck in 1929 with the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression. Facing financial ruin, the company was reluctantly sold to an equitable trust, that was revealed to be a front for Rolls-Royce.      

The Continental

The first Bentley Continental arrived on the market in the early 1950s, soon becoming the company’s marquee model. More streamlined and faster than the more stately Mark VI. The success could do little to save the company, as owner Rolls-Royce went into serious financial difficulties in the early 70s. Bentley became independent throughout the decade before it was sold once again, this time to the Vickers group.

The VW years

Bentley continued producing high-class, if a little underwhelming cars, across the years until 1998 when the huge Volkswagen Group bought the company. Outbidding their rivals BMW, Volkswagen took control of the company and began producing the prestigious vehicles we know today. As well as being presented to the Queen for her Golden Jubilee, Bentley has also grown in the marquee car market, with the Continental and the sportier GT version becoming the cars of choice for music superstars, top-level footballers, and the rich and famous.

published: 06/07/2018 14:58:32

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