Bentley
Overview
 
Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley known as W.O. Bentley or just "W O". Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary
Rotary engine
The rotary engine was an early type of internal-combustion engine, usually designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration, in which the crankshaft remained stationary and the entire cylinder block rotated around it...

 aero-engine
Aircraft engine
An aircraft engine is the component of the propulsion system for an aircraft that generates mechanical power. Aircraft engines are almost always either lightweight piston engines or gas turbines...

s in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the most famous being the Bentley BR1
Bentley BR1
-See also:...

 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel
Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter introduced on the Western Front in 1917. Manufactured by Sopwith Aviation Company, it had a short-coupled fuselage, heavy, powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronized machine guns. Though difficult...

. After the war W. O. Bentley designed and made production cars that won the 24 hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 in 1924
1924 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1924 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 2nd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 14 and 15 1924.-Official results:-Not Classified:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 André Lagache/René Léonard - 9:19* Distance - 2077.34 km...

 and following models which repeated those successes each June 1927
1927 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans was a motor race which took place at Circuit de la Sarthe on 18 and 19 June 1927. It was the fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans Grand Prix of Endurance. The race is commonly remembered due to the infamous White House crash, which involved all three of the widely-tipped Bentley...

, 1928
1928 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1928 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 6th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 16 and 17 1928.-Official results:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 Bentley Motors Ltd...

, 1929
1929 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 7th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 15 and 16 1929.Prior to the event, the ACO modified the course near the actual town of Le Mans so that it did not enter as far into the suburbs...

 and 1930
1930 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 8th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 21 and 22 June 1930. The pairing of Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse would go in history as the first women to compete and finish in the race.-Official results:...

.

Purchased by Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 in 1931, when production was moved from London to Derby and later to Crewe, this business has been owned by the Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group is a German multinational automobile manufacturing group. , Volkswagen was ranked as the world’s third largest motor vehicle manufacturer and Europe's largest....

 of Germany since 1998.
Encyclopedia
Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of automobiles founded on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley known as W.O. Bentley or just "W O". Bentley had been previously known for his range of rotary
Rotary engine
The rotary engine was an early type of internal-combustion engine, usually designed with an odd number of cylinders per row in a radial configuration, in which the crankshaft remained stationary and the entire cylinder block rotated around it...

 aero-engine
Aircraft engine
An aircraft engine is the component of the propulsion system for an aircraft that generates mechanical power. Aircraft engines are almost always either lightweight piston engines or gas turbines...

s in World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, the most famous being the Bentley BR1
Bentley BR1
-See also:...

 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel
Sopwith Camel
The Sopwith Camel was a British First World War single-seat biplane fighter introduced on the Western Front in 1917. Manufactured by Sopwith Aviation Company, it had a short-coupled fuselage, heavy, powerful rotary engine, and concentrated fire from twin synchronized machine guns. Though difficult...

. After the war W. O. Bentley designed and made production cars that won the 24 hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 in 1924
1924 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1924 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 2nd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 14 and 15 1924.-Official results:-Not Classified:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 André Lagache/René Léonard - 9:19* Distance - 2077.34 km...

 and following models which repeated those successes each June 1927
1927 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans was a motor race which took place at Circuit de la Sarthe on 18 and 19 June 1927. It was the fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans Grand Prix of Endurance. The race is commonly remembered due to the infamous White House crash, which involved all three of the widely-tipped Bentley...

, 1928
1928 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1928 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 6th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 16 and 17 1928.-Official results:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 Bentley Motors Ltd...

, 1929
1929 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 7th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 15 and 16 1929.Prior to the event, the ACO modified the course near the actual town of Le Mans so that it did not enter as far into the suburbs...

 and 1930
1930 24 Hours of Le Mans
The 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 8th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 21 and 22 June 1930. The pairing of Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse would go in history as the first women to compete and finish in the race.-Official results:...

.

Purchased by Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 in 1931, when production was moved from London to Derby and later to Crewe, this business has been owned by the Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group is a German multinational automobile manufacturing group. , Volkswagen was ranked as the world’s third largest motor vehicle manufacturer and Europe's largest....

 of Germany since 1998. The business is still based in Crewe
Crewe
Crewe is a railway town within the unitary authority area of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. According to the 2001 census the urban area had a population of 67,683...

, Cheshire, England with their Central Production Facilities
Bentley Crewe
Bentley Crewe serves as the headquarters, design and manufacturing centre of Bentley Motors Limited, located on the outskirts of Crewe, Cheshire, England.-History:...

 there.

Cricklewood

Before World War I, W.O. Bentley had been in partnership with his brother H.M. Bentley selling French DFP
Doriot, Flandrin & Parant
Doriot, Flandrin & Parant was a French car maker based in Courbevoie, Seine between 1906 and 1926.Auguste Doriot and Ludovic Flandrin had both worked for Peugeot and then Clément-Bayard before setting up their own car making company in 1906...

 cars, but he had always wanted to design and build his own range of cars bearing his name. In August 1919, Bentley Motors Ltd. was registered, and a chassis with dummy engine was exhibited at the London Motor Show
British International Motor Show
The British International Motor Show is an automobile show held biennially in the United Kingdom. It is recognised as an international show by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d'Automobiles. The 2008 was the last event with no news of a return of the British International Motor Show...

 in October of that year. An engine was built and running by December, and orders were taken for deliveries starting in June 1920; however, development took longer than estimated, and the first cars were not ready until September 1921. Their durability earned widespread acclaim. Appearances were made in hill climbs and at Brooklands
Brooklands
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. It opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue, as well as one of Britain's first airfields...

 and a single entry in the 1922 Indianapolis 500
1922 Indianapolis 500
Results of the 1922 Indianapolis 500 held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Tuesday, May 30, 1922....

 mile race driven by Douglas Hawkes finished at an average speed in excess of 80 miles an hour.

Outright Wins at Le Mans

  • 24 hours of Le Mans
    24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

     Grand Prix of Endurance
  • 1923
    1923 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1923 24 Hours of Le Mans was the very first Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on May 26 and 27 1923.The original intention of the race was for a winner to be declared following three straight years of competition. The Rudge-Whitworth Cup would be given to the driver combination to...

     4th (private entry)
  • 1924
    1924 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1924 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 2nd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 14 and 15 1924.-Official results:-Not Classified:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 André Lagache/René Léonard - 9:19* Distance - 2077.34 km...

     1st
  • 1925
    1925 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1925 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 3rd Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 20 and 21 1925.For this race, the start was actually held on the Mulsanne Straight, instead of in its traditional location following Maison Blanche....

     did not finish
  • 1926
    1926 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1926 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 4th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 12 and 13 1926.-Official results:-Not Classified:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #5 Gérard de Courcelles/Marcel Mongin - 9:03...

     did not finish
  • 1927
    1927 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1927 24 Hours of Le Mans was a motor race which took place at Circuit de la Sarthe on 18 and 19 June 1927. It was the fifth 24 Hours of Le Mans Grand Prix of Endurance. The race is commonly remembered due to the infamous White House crash, which involved all three of the widely-tipped Bentley...

     1st 15th 17th
  • 1928
    1928 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1928 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 6th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 16 and 17 1928.-Official results:-Did Not Finish:-Statistics:* Fastest Lap - #3 Bentley Motors Ltd...

     1st 5th
  • 1929
    1929 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1929 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 7th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on June 15 and 16 1929.Prior to the event, the ACO modified the course near the actual town of Le Mans so that it did not enter as far into the suburbs...

     1st 2nd 3rd 4th
  • 1930
    1930 24 Hours of Le Mans
    The 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans was the 8th Grand Prix of Endurance, and took place on 21 and 22 June 1930. The pairing of Odette Siko and Marguerite Mareuse would go in history as the first women to compete and finish in the race.-Official results:...

     1st 2nd

Rolls-Royce stopped the racing programme

It was on a visit to the DFP factory in 1913 that W.O. noticed an aluminium paperweight, and had the inspired idea of using the lightweight metal instead of cast iron to make engine pistons. The first Bentley aluminium pistons went into service in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel during World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

.

Barnato becomes Chairman

Woolf Barnato
Woolf Barnato
Joel Woolf Barnato was a British financier and racing driver, one of the "Bentley Boys" of the 1920s. He achieved three consecutive wins out of three entries in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race.-Early life:...

 acquired his first Bentley (a 3-litre) in 1925, just 12 months before he also acquired the business itself. With this car he won numerous Brooklands
Brooklands
Brooklands was a motor racing circuit and aerodrome built near Weybridge in Surrey, England. It opened in 1907, and was the world's first purpose-built motorsport venue, as well as one of Britain's first airfields...

 races. He was a member of a social set of wealthy British motorists known as the "Bentley Boys
Bentley Boys
The Bentley Boys were a group of wealthy British motorists who drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s and kept the marque's reputation for high performance alive...

" who favoured the cars of W.O. Bentley. Many were independently wealthy, often with a background in military service. Barnato was nicknamed "Babe", in ironic deference to his heavyweight boxer's stature.

The Bentley enterprise was always underfunded, but inspired by the 1924 Le Mans win by John Duff
John Duff
John Francis Duff was a Canadian racecar driver who won many races and has been inducted in the Canadian Motorsport Hall of Fame. He was one of only two Canadians who raced and won on England’s famous Brooklands Motor Course. The other, Kay Petre, is already an honoured member of the CMHF...

 and Frank Clement
Frank Clement (racing driver)
Frank Clement was a British racing driver who, along with Canadian John Duff, won the 1924 24 Hours of Le Mans. Part of the "Bentley Boys", Clement was recruited by W.O. Bentley as a test driver for Bentley Motors. He was chosen by the company to drive in the inaugural 24 Hours of Le Mans in ...

, Barnato agreed to finance Bentley's business. Barnato had incorporated Baromans Ltd in 1922, which existed as his finance and investment vehicle. Via Baromans, Barnato initially invested in excess of £100,000, saving the business and its workforce. A financial reorganisation of the original Bentley company was carried out and all existing creditors paid off for £75,000. Existing shares were devalued from £1 each to just 1 shilling, or 5% or their original value. Barnato held 149,500 of the new shares giving him control of the company and he became chairman. Barnato injected further cash into the business: £35,000 secured by debenture in July 1927; £40,000 in 1928; £25,000 in 1929. With renewed financial input, W. O. Bentley was able to design another generation of cars.

The Bentley Boys

A group of wealthy British motorists known as the "Bentley Boys
Bentley Boys
The Bentley Boys were a group of wealthy British motorists who drove Bentley sports cars to victory in the 1920s and kept the marque's reputation for high performance alive...

"—Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin
Henry Birkin
Sir Henry Ralph Stanley "Tim" Birkin, 3rd Baronet was a British racing driver, one of the "Bentley Boys" of the 1920s.-Background and family:...

, steeplechaser
Steeplechase (horse racing)
The steeplechase is a form of horse racing and derives its name from early races in which orientation of the course was by reference to a church steeple, jumping fences and ditches and generally traversing the many intervening obstacles in the countryside...

 George Duller, aviator
Aviator
An aviator is a person who flies an aircraft. The first recorded use of the term was in 1887, as a variation of 'aviation', from the Latin avis , coined in 1863 by G. de la Landelle in Aviation Ou Navigation Aérienne...

 Glen Kidston
Glen Kidston
George Pearson Glen Kidston was a record-breaking aviator and motor racing driver from Britain. He was a member of the well known Bentley Boys of the late 1920s, and possibly the wealthiest of that already wealthy set. His father, A.G. Kidston, was a grandson of the original A.G...

, automotive journalist S.C.H. "Sammy" Davis, and Dr Dudley Benjafield
Dudley Benjafield
Joseph Dudley Benjafield, MD was born on 6 August 1887, in Edmonton, London, UK. He attended the University of London and received his MD from University College Hospital in 1912...

 among them—kept the marque's reputation for high performance alive. Bentley, located at Cricklewood
Cricklewood
Cricklewood is a district of North London, England whose northeastern part is in the London Borough of Barnet, western part is the London Borough of Brent and southeastern part is in London Borough of Camden.-History:...

, north London, was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans
24 Hours of Le Mans
The 24 Hours of Le Mans is the world's oldest sports car race in endurance racing, held annually since near the town of Le Mans, France. Commonly known as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency, race teams have to balance speed against the cars' ability to run for 24 hours without sustaining...

 from 1927 to 1930.

In March 1930, during the Blue Train Races
Blue Train Races
The Blue Train Races were a series of record-breaking attempts between automobiles and trains in the late 1920s and early 1930s. It saw a number of motorists and their own or sponsored automobiles race against the Le Train Bleu, a train that ran between Calais and the French Riviera...

, Woolf Barnato raised the stakes on Rover and its Rover Light Six
Rover Light Six
The Rover Light Six was a mid-size formal saloon produced from 1927 through to 1932 by the Rover Company of Coventry.- Overview :The Rover Light Six was one of the first Rover cars manufactured under the aegis of Spencer and Maurice Wilks who introduced new management practices and engineering...

, having raced and beat Le Train Bleu
Le Train Bleu
Le Train Bleu , officially the Calais-Mediterranée Express, was a luxury French night express train which operated from 1922 to 2007. It gained international fame as the preferred train of wealthy and famous passengers between Calais and the French Riviera in the two decades before World War II...

for the first time, to better that record with his 6½-litre Bentley Speed Six
Bentley Speed Six
The regular Bentley 6½ Litre and the high-performance Bentley Speed Six were Bentley cars in production from 1926 to 1930. They were created out of the desire for more engine power by Walter Owen Bentley by adding two cylinders to the straight-4 engine used in his Bentley 4½ Litre car. The Speed...

 on a bet of £100. He drove against the train from Cannes
Cannes
Cannes is one of the best-known cities of the French Riviera, a busy tourist destination and host of the annual Cannes Film Festival. It is a Commune of France in the Alpes-Maritimes department....

 to Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

, then by ferry to Dover
Dover
Dover is a town and major ferry port in the home county of Kent, in South East England. It faces France across the narrowest part of the English Channel, and lies south-east of Canterbury; east of Kent's administrative capital Maidstone; and north-east along the coastline from Dungeness and Hastings...

, and finally London, travelling on public highways, and won; the H.J. Mulliner-bodied formal saloon he drove during the race as well as a streamlined fastback "Sportsman Coupé" by Gurney Nutting
J Gurney Nutting & Co Limited
J Gurney Nutting & Co Limited was an English firm of bespoke coachbuilders specialising in sporting bodies founded in 1918 as a new enterprise by a Croydon firm of builders and joiners of the same name...

—he took delivery of on 21 May 1930—became known as the "Blue Train Bentley
Blue Train Bentley
The term Blue Train Bentley refers to two Bentley automobiles, based on the high-performance 6½ litre Bentley Speed Six model, which became known for their owner Woolf Barnato's involvement in the Blue Train Races of 1930.- Overview :...

s"; the latter is regularly mistaken for (or erroneously referred to) as being the car that raced the Blue Train, while in fact Barnato named it in memory of his race.

Car models, Cricklewood

The original model was the 3-litre, but as customers put heavier bodies on the chassis, a larger 4½-litre model followed. Perhaps the most iconic model of the period is the 4½-litre "Blower Bentley," with its distinctive supercharger
Supercharger
A supercharger is an air compressor used for forced induction of an internal combustion engine.The greater mass flow-rate provides more oxygen to support combustion than would be available in a naturally aspirated engine, which allows more fuel to be burned and more work to be done per cycle,...

 projecting forward from the bottom of the grille. Uncharacteristically fragile for a Bentley, it was not the racing workhorse the 6½-litre was. It became famous in popular media as the vehicle of choice of James Bond
James Bond
James Bond, code name 007, is a fictional character created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming, who featured him in twelve novels and two short story collections. There have been a six other authors who wrote authorised Bond novels or novelizations after Fleming's death in 1964: Kingsley Amis,...

 in the original novels
Ian Fleming
Ian Lancaster Fleming was a British author, journalist and Naval Intelligence Officer.Fleming is best known for creating the fictional British spy James Bond and for a series of twelve novels and nine short stories about the character, one of the biggest-selling series of fictional books of...

, but this has been seen only briefly in the films. John Steed
John Steed
John Steed is a fictional character and the central protagonist on the popular British series The Avengers and The New Avengers, played by Patrick Macnee and Ralph Fiennes in the movie....

 in the television series The Avengers
The Avengers (TV series)
The Avengers is a spy-fi British television series set in the 1960s Britain. The Avengers initially focused on Dr. David Keel and his assistant John Steed . Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered with a succession of assistants...

drove a Bentley.
The new 8-litre was such a success that when Barnato's money seemed to run out in 1931 and Napier was planning to buy Bentley's business, Rolls-Royce purchased Bentley Motors to prevent competition for the market of their most expensive model, Phantom II.
  • 1921–29 3-litre
    Bentley 3 Litre
    The 3 Litre was the sports car that put Bentley on the automotive map. It was a large car compared to the tiny, lightweight Bugattis then dominating racing, but its innovative technology and strength made up for its weight...

  • 1926–30 4½-litre & "Blower Bentley"
  • 1926–30 6½-litre
    Bentley Speed Six
    The regular Bentley 6½ Litre and the high-performance Bentley Speed Six were Bentley cars in production from 1926 to 1930. They were created out of the desire for more engine power by Walter Owen Bentley by adding two cylinders to the straight-4 engine used in his Bentley 4½ Litre car. The Speed...

  • 1928–30 6½-litre Speed Six
    Bentley Speed Six
    The regular Bentley 6½ Litre and the high-performance Bentley Speed Six were Bentley cars in production from 1926 to 1930. They were created out of the desire for more engine power by Walter Owen Bentley by adding two cylinders to the straight-4 engine used in his Bentley 4½ Litre car. The Speed...

  • 1930–31 8-litre
    Bentley 8 Litre
    The 8 Litre was the largest and most luxurious Bentley car designed and the last new model introduced by W O Bentley at Bentley Motors Limited in Cricklewood London prior to the purchase of W O 's business by Rolls-Royce to wipe out its dangerous competition for their Phantom II...

  • 1931 4-litre
    Bentley 4 Litre
    The 4 litre was an ill-thought-through last minute attempt at restoring the Bentley company to a good financial state. Introduced in 1931, it used a Ricardo F-head engine of half the capacity in the 8 litre chassis in an attempt to attract economy-minded buyers.Instead, possibly treacherous...


Sale to Rolls-Royce

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 affected the Bentley business greatly, with the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

 reducing demand for its expensive products. In July 1931, two mortgage payments on the firm that were guaranteed by Barnato fell due, and he advised the lenders that he was "unable to meet these debts." On 10 July, on the application of the mortgagee, the court appointed a Receiver to Bentley Motors Limited. After a period where it appeared that Napier
Napier
-People:* Napier * John Napier -Australia:* Electoral district of Napier, a state electoral district in South Australia* Mount Napier, a dormant volcano in Victoria...

 was going to acquire the business, the firm passed into the hands of Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 in November 1931 for the sum of £125,000 after a sealed bid auction.

Barnato received around £42,000 in return for his shares in the business, having bought a sizeable stake in Rolls-Royce not long before Bentley Motors was liquidated. By 1934 he was again on the board of the new Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd.

"The Silent Sports Car"

Rolls-Royce
Rolls-Royce Limited
Rolls-Royce Limited was a renowned British car and, from 1914 on, aero-engine manufacturing company founded by Charles Stewart Rolls and Henry Royce on 15 March 1906 as the result of a partnership formed in 1904....

 acquired Bentley using an entity named the British Central Equitable Trust; not even Bentley himself knew the true identity of the purchaser until the deal was completed. A new company, wholly owned by Rolls-Royce, was formed, Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd. The Cricklewood
Cricklewood
Cricklewood is a district of North London, England whose northeastern part is in the London Borough of Barnet, western part is the London Borough of Brent and southeastern part is in London Borough of Camden.-History:...

 factory was closed and sold, and production moved to the Rolls-Royce works in Derby
Derby
Derby , is a city and unitary authority in the East Midlands region of England. It lies upon the banks of the River Derwent and is located in the south of the ceremonial county of Derbyshire. In the 2001 census, the population of the city was 233,700, whilst that of the Derby Urban Area was 229,407...

. Unhappy with his role at Rolls-Royce, when his contract expired at the end of April 1935 W.O. Bentley left to join Lagonda
Lagonda
Lagonda is a British luxury car marque, founded as a company in 1906 in Staines, Middlesex by a former opera singer from Ohio, but of Scottish ancestry, named Wilbur Gunn . He named the company after a river near the town of his birth, Springfield, Ohio, United States...

.

When the new Bentley 3½ litre
Bentley 3.5 Litre
The 3½ Litre was presented to the public in September 1933, shortly after the death of Henry Royce, and was the first new Bentley model following Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the Bentley brand in 1931...

 appeared in 1933, it was a sporting variant of the Rolls-Royce 20/25
Rolls-Royce 20/25
The Rolls-Royce 20/25 built between 1929 and 1936 succeeded the 20hp as Rolls-Royce's "small car". It was intended to appeal to owner drivers but many were sold to customers with chauffeurs.-Engineering:...

, which disappointed some traditional customers yet was well-received by many others. Even Bentley himself was reported as saying, "Taking all things into consideration, I would rather own this Bentley than any other car produced under that name".

Car models, Derby

  • 1933–37 3½-litre
    Bentley 3.5 Litre
    The 3½ Litre was presented to the public in September 1933, shortly after the death of Henry Royce, and was the first new Bentley model following Rolls-Royce's acquisition of the Bentley brand in 1931...

    • 1936–39 4¼-litre
  • 1939–41 Mark V
    Bentley Mark V
    The Bentley Mark V was Rolls-Royce's second Bentley model. Released in 1939, it had little in common to any other model. Incorporating a new-generation straight-6 engine...

    • 1939 Mark V
      Bentley Mark V
      The Bentley Mark V was Rolls-Royce's second Bentley model. Released in 1939, it had little in common to any other model. Incorporating a new-generation straight-6 engine...


Crewe

Until the Second World War companies like Bentley and Rolls-Royce did not supply complete cars. They sold a rolling chassis, near-complete from the instrument panel forward. This was delivered to the coachbuilder of the buyer's choice. The biggest dealerships had coachbuilders build standard designs for them and held them in stock awaiting potential buyers.

Post-war standard-steel saloons

This being so it made sense to meet postwar demand for much more ruggedly constructed cars by the Crewe factory assembling complete vehicles using bought-in pressings. Rolling chassis were still available to coachbuilders.

Badge engineering

After World War II production of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars was moved to an ex-wartime engine factory in Crewe
Crewe
Crewe is a railway town within the unitary authority area of Cheshire East and the ceremonial county of Cheshire, England. According to the 2001 census the urban area had a population of 67,683...

, Cheshire and standard-steel Bentleys were slightly lower priced Rolls-Royces without the Rolls' distinctive square-shouldered grille.

Bentley Continental

The Continental fastback coupé was produced principally for the domestic home market, the majority of cars produced (165, including a prototype
Prototype
A prototype is an early sample or model built to test a concept or process or to act as a thing to be replicated or learned from.The word prototype derives from the Greek πρωτότυπον , "primitive form", neutral of πρωτότυπος , "original, primitive", from πρῶτος , "first" and τύπος ,...

) being right-hand drive. The chassis was produced at the Crewe factory and shared many components with the standard R type. Other than the R-Type standard steel saloon, R-Type Continentals were delivered as rolling chassis to the coachbuilder
Coachbuilder
A coachbuilder is a manufacturer of bodies for carriages or automobiles.The trade dates back several centuries. Rippon was active in the time of Queen Elizabeth I, Barker founded in 1710 by an officer in Queen Anne's Guards, Brewster a relative newcomer , formed in 1810. Others in Britain included...

 of choice. Coachwork for most of these cars was completed by H. J. Mulliner & Co.
H. J. Mulliner & Co.
H. J. Mulliner & Co. was a well-known British coachbuilder operating at Chiswick in West London.The Mulliner family can trace their coachbuilding history back to 1760, building coaches for the Royal Mail in Northampton....

 who mainly built them in fastback coupe form. Other coachwork came from Park Ward
Park Ward
Park Ward was a British coachbuilder founded by William M. Park and Charles W. Ward in 1919. They had worked together at F.W. Berwick Ltd., the makers of Sizaire-Berwick cars.Their business operated from Willesden, North London.-History:...

 (London) who built six, later including a drophead coupe version. Franay (Paris) built five, Graber (Wichtrach, Switzerland) built three, one of them later altered by Köng (Basle, Switzerland), and Pininfarina
Pininfarina
Pininfarina S.p.A. is an Italian car design firm and coachbuilder in Cambiano, Italy.Founded as Società anonima Carrozzeria Pinin Farina in 1930 by automobile designer and builder Battista "Pinin" Farina, Pininfarina has been employed by a wide variety of high-end automobile manufacturers,...

 made one. James Young
James Young (coachbuilder)
James Young Ltd was a British coachbuilding company. The business was started in 1863 in LondonRoad, Bromley. originally producing horsedrawn carriages....

 (London) built in 1954 a Sports Saloon for the owner of James Young's, James Barclay.

The early R Type Continental has essentially the same engine as the standard R Type, but with modified carburation, induction and exhaust manifolds along with higher gear ratios. After July 1954 the car was fitted with an engine, having now a larger bore of 94.62 mm (3.7 in) with a total displacement of 4887 cc. The compression ratio was raised to 7.25:1.

Car models, Crewe

  • Standard-steel saloon
    • 1946–52 Mark VI
      Bentley Mark VI
      The Bentley Mark VI was the first post-war luxury car from Bentley.Announced in May 1946 and produced from 1946 to 1952 it was also both the first car from Rolls-Royce with all-steel coachwork and the first complete car assembled and finished at their factory...

    • 1952–55 R Type
      Bentley R Type
      The R Type is the second series of post-war Bentley automobiles, replacing the Mark VI. Essentially a larger-boot version of the Mk VI, the R type is regarded by some as a stop-gap before the introduction of the S series cars in 1955. As with its predecessor, a standard body was available as well...

  • Continental
    • 1952–55 R Type
      Bentley R Type
      The R Type is the second series of post-war Bentley automobiles, replacing the Mark VI. Essentially a larger-boot version of the Mk VI, the R type is regarded by some as a stop-gap before the introduction of the S series cars in 1955. As with its predecessor, a standard body was available as well...

       Continental

  • S-series
    • 1955–59 S1
      Bentley S1
      The Bentley S was a luxury car produced by Bentley Motors Limited from 1955 until 1959.Bentley 's first true complete redesign of their standard production car after World War II and their last standard production car with an independent chassis.These cars were given a new V8 engine in late 1959,...

       and Continental
    • 1959–62 S2
      Bentley S2
      The Bentley S2 was a luxury car produced by Bentley from 1959 until 1962. The changed designation S2 was to mark the new V8 engine and the improved air conditioning which could now be run from it...

       and Continental
    • 1962–65 S3
      Bentley S3
      The Bentley S3 is a four-door luxury car produced by Bentley from late 1962 until 1965.The S3 was very similar to the S2. The most-visible difference was a four-headlamp layout that paved the way for the radically new Bentley T1 in 1965. The interior was modified with individual seats for front...

       and Continental

  • T-series
    Bentley T-series
    The Bentley T-Series is an automobile which was produced by Bentley Motors Limited in the United Kingdom from 1965 to 1980. It was announced and displayed for the first time at the Paris Motor Show on 5 October 1965 as a Bentley-badged version of the totally-redesigned chassis-less Rolls-Royce...

    • 1965–77 T1
      Bentley T-series
      The Bentley T-Series is an automobile which was produced by Bentley Motors Limited in the United Kingdom from 1965 to 1980. It was announced and displayed for the first time at the Paris Motor Show on 5 October 1965 as a Bentley-badged version of the totally-redesigned chassis-less Rolls-Royce...

    • 1977–80 T2
      Bentley T-series
      The Bentley T-Series is an automobile which was produced by Bentley Motors Limited in the United Kingdom from 1965 to 1980. It was announced and displayed for the first time at the Paris Motor Show on 5 October 1965 as a Bentley-badged version of the totally-redesigned chassis-less Rolls-Royce...

  • 1971–84 Corniche
    Rolls-Royce Corniche
    The Corniche was Rolls-Royce's coupé and convertible version of the Silver Shadow produced between 1971 and 1996. The Corniche was named "Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé " from 1966 until 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele...

  • 1975–86 Camargue
    Rolls-Royce Camargue
    The Rolls-Royce Camargue is a two-door coupé introduced by Rolls-Royce Motors in March 1975. The Camargue's body, built in London by their coachbuilding division Mulliner Park Ward, was designed by automotive designer Paolo Martin at Pininfarina — the Camargue was Rolls-Royce's first post-war...


Vickers

The problems of Bentley's owner with Rolls-Royce aero engine development, the RB211, brought about the financial collapse of its business in 1970.

The motorcar division was made a separate business, Rolls-Royce Motors Limited
Rolls-Royce Motors
Rolls-Royce Motors was created from the de-merger of the Rolls-Royce car business from Rolls-Royce Limited in 1973. The original Rolls-Royce Limited had been nationalised in 1971 due to the financial collapse of the company, caused in part by the development of the RB211 jet engine...

, which remained independent until bought by Vickers plc
Vickers plc
Vickers plc was the remainder of Vickers-Armstrongs after the nationalisation of three of its four operating groups: aviation , shipbuilding and steel...

 in August 1980. By the 1970s and early 1980s Bentley sales had fallen badly; at one point less than 5% of combined production carried the Bentley badge. Under Vickers, Bentley set about regaining its high-performance heritage, typified by the 1980 Mulsanne
Bentley Mulsanne
The Bentley Mulsanne is a performance luxury car which was produced by Bentley Motors Limited from 1980 until 1992, though derivative models like the Continental T and Azure continued in production into the 2000s...

. Bentley's restored sporting image created a renewed interest in the name and Bentley sales as a proportion of output began to rise. By 1986 the Bentley:Rolls-Royce ratio had reached 40:60; by 1991 it achieved parity.

Car models, Crewe Vickers

    • 1984–95 Continental
      Rolls-Royce Corniche
      The Corniche was Rolls-Royce's coupé and convertible version of the Silver Shadow produced between 1971 and 1996. The Corniche was named "Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé " from 1966 until 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele...

      —convertible
      • 1992–95 Continental Turbo
        Rolls-Royce Corniche
        The Corniche was Rolls-Royce's coupé and convertible version of the Silver Shadow produced between 1971 and 1996. The Corniche was named "Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward two door fixed head coupé " from 1966 until 1971 when the Corniche name was applied. The exterior design was by John Polwhele...

  • 1980–87 Bentley Mulsanne
    • 1984–88 Mulsanne L—limousine
    • 1982–85 Mulsanne Turbo
    • 1987–92 Mulsanne S
    • 1984–92 Eight
      Bentley Eight
      The Eight was Bentley's "entry-level" offering from 1984 until 1992. Distinguished mainly by a wire-mesh grille radiator instead of vertical slats, the Eight also had somewhat less equipment than the similar Mulsanne on which it was based. A firmer suspension offered slight handling improvements...

      —basic model
    • 1985–95 Turbo R
      Bentley Turbo R
      The Bentley Turbo R was a high-performance model produced by Bentley Motors Limited. The "R" stood for "roadholding", to set it apart from its predecessor. It initially inherited the turbocharged engine from the Mulsanne Turbo and also sported a retuned suspension and wider tires on alloy wheels, a...

      turbocharged
      Turbocharger
      A turbocharger, or turbo , from the Greek "τύρβη" is a centrifugal compressor powered by a turbine that is driven by an engine's exhaust gases. Its benefit lies with the compressor increasing the mass of air entering the engine , thereby resulting in greater performance...

       performance version
    • 1991–2002 Continental R
      Bentley Continental R
      The Bentley Continental R is a large, expensive, luxury coupé made by Bentley from 1991 to 2002. It was the first Bentley to feature a body not shared with a Rolls-Royce model since the S3 of 1965, the first to use the GM 4L80-E transmission, and the quickest, most expensive, and most powerful...

      —turbocharged 2-door model
      • 1999–2003 Continental R Mulliner
        Bentley Continental R
        The Bentley Continental R is a large, expensive, luxury coupé made by Bentley from 1991 to 2002. It was the first Bentley to feature a body not shared with a Rolls-Royce model since the S3 of 1965, the first to use the GM 4L80-E transmission, and the quickest, most expensive, and most powerful...

        —performance model
      • 1994–95 Continental S—intercooled
        Intercooler
        An intercooler , or charge air cooler, is an air-to-air or air-to-liquid heat exchange device used on turbocharged and supercharged internal combustion engines to improve their volumetric efficiency by increasing intake air charge density through nearly isobaric cooling, which removes...

    • 1992–98 Brooklands
      Bentley Brooklands
      The Bentley Brooklands is a full-size luxury car introduced for 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75 litre V8...

      —improved Eight
      • 1996–98 Brooklands R
        Bentley Brooklands
        The Bentley Brooklands is a full-size luxury car introduced for 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75 litre V8...

        —performance Brooklands
    • 1994–95 Turbo S
      Bentley Turbo R
      The Bentley Turbo R was a high-performance model produced by Bentley Motors Limited. The "R" stood for "roadholding", to set it apart from its predecessor. It initially inherited the turbocharged engine from the Mulsanne Turbo and also sported a retuned suspension and wider tires on alloy wheels, a...

      —limited-edition sports model
    • 1995–97 Turbo R
      Bentley Turbo R
      The Bentley Turbo R was a high-performance model produced by Bentley Motors Limited. The "R" stood for "roadholding", to set it apart from its predecessor. It initially inherited the turbocharged engine from the Mulsanne Turbo and also sported a retuned suspension and wider tires on alloy wheels, a...

      —"updated" Turbo R
    • 1995–2003 Azure
      Bentley Azure
      The Bentley Azure is a large, four seater convertible built by Bentley Motors Limited at its factory in Crewe, England. The model debuted in 1995 on the Continental platform and was produced in its original guise until 2003. A completely new version powered by a significantly updated engine and...

      —convertible Continental R
    • 1996–2002 Continental T—short-wheelbase performance model
    • 1997–98 Turbo RL—"new" Turbo R LWB (Long Wheel Base
      Wheelbase
      In both road and rail vehicles, the wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels.- Road :In automobiles, the wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel...

      )
    • 1997–98 Bentley Turbo RT
      Bentley Turbo RT
      The Bentley Turbo RT was the last, rarest, most powerful and most expensive of the Turbo line. The Bentley RT came with the twin-turbo 6.75 L V8 engine of the two-door Continental T installed. It is visually differentiated from other Bentley Turbo models by its sport wheels, radiator mesh grille...

      —replacement for the Turbo RL
      • 1997–98 RT Mulliner—Ultra exclusive performance model

BMW v VW

In 1998, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce Motors. The leading contender seemed to be BMW
BMW
Bayerische Motoren Werke AG is a German automobile, motorcycle and engine manufacturing company founded in 1916. It also owns and produces the Mini marque, and is the parent company of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. BMW produces motorcycles under BMW Motorrad and Husqvarna brands...

, who already supplied engines and other components for Bentley (and Rolls-Royce) cars. Their final offer of £
Pound sterling
The pound sterling , commonly called the pound, is the official currency of the United Kingdom, its Crown Dependencies and the British Overseas Territories of South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, British Antarctic Territory and Tristan da Cunha. It is subdivided into 100 pence...

340m was outbid by Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group
Volkswagen Group is a German multinational automobile manufacturing group. , Volkswagen was ranked as the world’s third largest motor vehicle manufacturer and Europe's largest....

, who offered £430m. Volkswagen Group got the Crewe works and found it held the rights to Rolls-Royce's "Spirit of Ecstasy" mascot and the shape of that radiator grille but no rights to the Rolls-Royce name or logo. In 1998 BMW had recently started supplying components for the new range of Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, notably V8 engine
V8 engine
A V8 engine is a V engine with eight cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of four cylinders, in most cases set at a right angle to each other but sometimes at a narrower angle, with all eight pistons driving a common crankshaft....

s for the Bentley Arnage
Bentley Arnage
The Bentley Arnage is a large luxury car produced by Bentley Motors in Crewe, England from 1998 to 2009. The Arnage, and its Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, were introduced in the Spring of 1998, and were the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980.Another break...

, and V12 engine
V12 engine
A V12 engine is a V engine with 12 cylinders mounted on the crankcase in two banks of six cylinders, usually but not always at a 60° angle to each other, with all 12 pistons driving a common crankshaft....

s for the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph
Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph
The Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph, produced from 1998 to 2002, was first unveiled on March 3, 1998 at the Geneva Motor Show. The Silver Seraph replaced the Silver Spur, which ended production in 1997....

. It also emerged that BMW was able to terminate its supply deal with Rolls-Royce with 12 months' notice, which would not be enough time for Volkswagen Group to re-engineer the cars.

BMW paid aero-engine maker Rolls-Royce plc
Rolls-Royce plc
Rolls-Royce Group plc is a global power systems company headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, United Kingdom. It is the world’s second-largest maker of aircraft engines , and also has major businesses in the marine propulsion and energy sectors. Through its defence-related activities...

 £40m to license the Rolls-Royce name and "RR" logo, a deal that many commentators thought was a bargain for possibly the most valuable property in the deal. Volkswagen claimed that it only really wanted Bentley anyway. Bentley was the higher volume brand, with Bentley models out-selling the equivalent Rolls Royce by around two to one.
After negotiations, BMW and Volkswagen Group arrived at a solution. From 1998 to 2002, BMW would continue to supply engines for the cars and would allow Volkswagen temporary use of the Rolls-Royce name and logo. Bentley reintroduced the venerable Rolls-Royce V8 engine
Rolls-Royce V8 engine
In the history of Rolls-Royce automobiles, only two distinct series of V8 engines have been produced. The first powered the 1905 "V-8" model and was made in very small numbers. The second was developed in the 1950s and was known internally as the "L Series" of engines...

 into the Arnage, initially as an additional model, and all BMW engine supply ended in 2003 with the end of Silver Seraph production.
From 1 January 2003 Volkswagen Group would build only cars called "Bentley". Rolls-Royce production was relocated to their Goodwood plant
Goodwood Plant
The Goodwood plant serves as the headquarters, design, manufacturing and assembly centre for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars.Officially opened for business on 1 January 2003, the plant has been expanded twice since, and now covers . It presently employs 800 workers, half of whom are employed in the wood and...

 in Goodwood, West Sussex
Goodwood
- Events :* Goodwood Festival of Speed, a motorsport event in the United Kingdom* Glorious Goodwood, a horseracing event in the United Kingdom* Goodwood Revival, a historical motorsport event in the United Kingdom- Places and structures:in Australia...

, England.

Car models, Crewe VW & BMW

  • 1999–2002 Azure Mulliner
    Bentley Azure
    The Bentley Azure is a large, four seater convertible built by Bentley Motors Limited at its factory in Crewe, England. The model debuted in 1995 on the Continental platform and was produced in its original guise until 2003. A completely new version powered by a significantly updated engine and...

    —performance model
  • 1999 Continental T Mulliner—firmer suspension

Modern Bentleys

After acquiring the business Volkswagen spent £500 million to modernise the Crewe factory and increase production capacity.
As of early 2010, there are about 3,500 working at Crewe, compared with about 1,500 in 1998 before being taken over by Volkswagen.
It was reported that Volkswagen invested a total of nearly US$2 billion in Bentley and its revival.

In 2002, Bentley presented Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 with an official State Limousine
Bentley State Limousine
The Bentley State Limousine is an official state car created by Bentley for Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.The vehicle's twin-turbocharged, 6.75-litre V8 engine has been modified from Bentley's Arnage R version to produce and of torque. Its maximum speed is . The...

 to celebrate her Golden Jubilee
Golden Jubilee
A Golden Jubilee is a celebration held to mark a 50th anniversary.- In Thailand :King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world's longest-reigning monarch, celebrated his Golden Jubilee on 9 June 1996.- In the Commonwealth Realms :...

. In 2003, Bentley's 2-door convertible, the Bentley Azure
Bentley Azure
The Bentley Azure is a large, four seater convertible built by Bentley Motors Limited at its factory in Crewe, England. The model debuted in 1995 on the Continental platform and was produced in its original guise until 2003. A completely new version powered by a significantly updated engine and...

, ceased production, and Bentley introduced a second line, Bentley Continental GT
Bentley Continental GT
-Flying Spur:The four door Continental Flying Spur saloon was first displayed at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The Flying Spur utilizes most of the technical underpinnings of the Bentley Continental GT, and was introduced to European and North American markets in the summer of 2005...

, a large luxury coupé powered by a W12 engine
W12 engine
A W12 engine is a twelve cylinder piston internal combustion engine in a W configuration. W12 engines are manufactured in two distinct configurations. One configuration uses four rows of three cylinders merged into two 'cylinder banks' , coupled to a common crankshaft - as in Volkswagen Group W12...

 built in Crewe.

Demand had been so great, that the factory at Crewe was unable to meet orders despite an installed capacity of approximately 9500 vehicles per year; there was a waiting list of over a year for new cars to be delivered. Consequently, part of the production of the new Flying Spur
Bentley Continental Flying Spur (2005)
The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a four-door variant of the Bentley Continental GT coupé. The Bentley Continental Flying Spur was introduced in 2005....

, a four-door version of the Continental GT, was assigned to the Transparent Factory
Transparent Factory
Transparent Factory is the English name of an automobile production plant owned by German carmaker Volkswagen, designed by architect Gunter Henn, and opened in 2002. The original German name is Gläserne Manufaktur...

 (Germany), where the Volkswagen Phaeton
Volkswagen Phaeton
The Volkswagen Phaeton is a full-size luxury sedan/saloon manufactured by German automaker Volkswagen, and is described by Volkswagen as their "premium class" vehicle...

 luxury car is also assembled. This arrangement ceased at the end of 2006 after around 1000 cars, with all car production reverting to the Crewe plant.

In April 2005, Bentley confirmed plans to produce a four seat convertible model—the Azure
Bentley Azure
The Bentley Azure is a large, four seater convertible built by Bentley Motors Limited at its factory in Crewe, England. The model debuted in 1995 on the Continental platform and was produced in its original guise until 2003. A completely new version powered by a significantly updated engine and...

, derived from the Arnage Drophead Coupé
Bentley Arnage
The Bentley Arnage is a large luxury car produced by Bentley Motors in Crewe, England from 1998 to 2009. The Arnage, and its Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, were introduced in the Spring of 1998, and were the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980.Another break...

 prototype—at Crewe beginning in 2006. By the autumn of 2005, the convertible version of the successful Continental GT, the Continental GTC
Bentley Continental
Bentley has used the Continental name on a number of automobiles since 1952From 1952 to 1965 always for cars with more powerful engines than used in standard cars installed in lowered chassis provided to coachbuilders for distinctive and distinguished body shapes of specially lightened...

, was also presented. These two models were successfully launched in late 2006.

A limited run of a Zagato
Zagato
Zagato is a design consultancy and engineering services company situated just outside Milan, Italy.The company's premises occupy an area of , of which are covered....

 modified GT was also announced in March 2008, dubbed "GTZ".

A new Bentley version of the Bentley Continental was introduced at the 2009 Geneva Auto Show: The Continental Supersports. This new Bentley is a supercar combining extreme power with environmentally friendly FlexFuel technology. A muscular two-seater with distinctive exterior and interior styling, the Supersports is unmistakably Bentley in design, craftsmanship and performance. The engine derived from Bentley’s current W12 power unit was re-engineered, re-tuned and re-mapped to achieve phenomenal supercar potency. 0–60 mph in 3.7 seconds (0–100 km/h 3.9 seconds). 621 bhp 800 newton metres (590 ft·lbf) at 2,000 to 4,500 rpm. The Continental Supersports is the fastest, most powerful production Bentley ever.

Bentley sales continued to increase, and in 2005 8,627 were sold worldwide, 3,654 in the United States. In 2007 the 10,000 cars-per-year threshold was broken for the first time with sales of 10,014. For 2007, a record profit of €155 million was also announced.
Bentley reported a sale of about 7,600 units in 2008.
However, its global sales plunged 50 percent to 4,616 vehicles in 2009 (with the U.S. deliveries dropped 49% to 1,433 vehicles) and it suffered an operating loss of €194 million, compared with a profit of €10 million in 2008.
  • 1998: Arnage
    Bentley Arnage
    The Bentley Arnage is a large luxury car produced by Bentley Motors in Crewe, England from 1998 to 2009. The Arnage, and its Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, were introduced in the Spring of 1998, and were the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980.Another break...

     saloon
  • 1999: Hunaudieres Concept
    Bentley Hunaudières
    The Bentley Hunaudières is a concept car built by Bentley for the 1999 Geneva Salon International de l'Auto. It is powered by a Volkswagen 8.0-litre, naturally aspirated, W16 engine that generates of power at 6,000 revolutions per minute and of torque at 4,000 revolutions per minute in...

  • 2002: State Limousine
    Bentley State Limousine
    The Bentley State Limousine is an official state car created by Bentley for Queen Elizabeth II on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee in 2002.The vehicle's twin-turbocharged, 6.75-litre V8 engine has been modified from Bentley's Arnage R version to produce and of torque. Its maximum speed is . The...

  • 2003: Continental GT
    Bentley Continental GT
    -Flying Spur:The four door Continental Flying Spur saloon was first displayed at the 2005 Geneva Motor Show. The Flying Spur utilizes most of the technical underpinnings of the Bentley Continental GT, and was introduced to European and North American markets in the summer of 2005...

     coupé
    Coupé
    A coupé or coupe is a closed car body style , the precise definition of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and over time...

  • 2005: Continental Flying Spur
    Bentley Continental Flying Spur (2005)
    The Bentley Continental Flying Spur is a four-door variant of the Bentley Continental GT coupé. The Bentley Continental Flying Spur was introduced in 2005....

     saloon
  • 2006: Azure convertible
    Convertible
    A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away having windows which wind-down inside the doors, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle...

  • 2006: Continental GT convertible
    Convertible
    A convertible is a type of automobile in which the roof can retract and fold away having windows which wind-down inside the doors, converting it from an enclosed to an open-air vehicle...

  • 2007: Continental GT Speed coupé
    Coupé
    A coupé or coupe is a closed car body style , the precise definition of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and over time...

  • 2008: Bentley Brooklands
    Bentley Brooklands
    The Bentley Brooklands is a full-size luxury car introduced for 1992 as a replacement for the Bentley Mulsanne and Bentley Eight models. It was intended as a slightly cheaper alternative to the Bentley Turbo R, featuring the same styling, underpinnings and the Rolls-Royce 6.75 litre V8...

     coupé
    Coupé
    A coupé or coupe is a closed car body style , the precise definition of which varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, and over time...

  • 2008: Bentley Continental Flying Spur
    Bentley Continental Flying Spur
    Bentleys have worn the Continental Flying Spur name on two quite different classes of four-door cars since 1957.The first is a four-door saloon body made to special order by coachbuilders H. J. Mulliner & Co. on a Bentley Continental chassis...

     Speed saloon
  • 2009: Continental GTC Speed
  • 2009: Azure T
  • 2009: Arnage
    Bentley Arnage
    The Bentley Arnage is a large luxury car produced by Bentley Motors in Crewe, England from 1998 to 2009. The Arnage, and its Rolls-Royce-branded sibling, the Silver Seraph, were introduced in the Spring of 1998, and were the first entirely new designs for the two marques since 1980.Another break...

     saloon, Final Series
  • 2009: Continental Supersports
  • 2009: Bentley Zagato GTZ
  • 2010: Bentley Mulsanne
  • 2011: 2nd Generation Continental

External links

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