100 Years of Extraordinary
"To build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class."
W.O. Bentley, Founder
On the 10th July 2019, Bentley will reach its Centenary, an achievement worth celebrating and at Grange we will certainly be doing that through a wide range of Centenary activities planned between now and the end of 2019.
Bentley has transformed the face of motoring over the past century, with the marque going from humble beginnings when a prototype was created in a London mews to building various exquisitely crafted and phenomenally powerful cars like the new Continental GT at its factory in Crewe and the new extraordinary Mulsanne W.O Edition by Mulliner - limited to only 100 cars.
Join us as we take a journey through the past 100 years and the Bentley story.
The Birth of Bentley Motors
Bentley's story can be traced back to the early years of car racing, when W.O. Bentley was importing French cars which were constructed by Doriot, Flandrin & Parant (DFP).
During a visit to France and specifically the DFP office there, W.O. considered whether the lightweight material aluminium could be used to enhance the pistons used in car engines after picking up a paperweight made from the material. While there had been concerns previously that the material would be too weak and at risk of melting, W.O. proposed that the problem may be solved by adding some copper to create a new alloy - it was a theory that worked.
The pistons that W.O. created were fitted to his own competition car, which went on to easily win various races. Once the First World War was declared and W.O. joined the Royal Naval Air Force, he showcased how aluminium pistons could be applied to fighter aircraft engines to make them more reliable and powerful.
After the war was over, W.O. turned his attention to the automobiles industry. Bentley Motors was created shortly after on 10th July 1919.
Bentley's racing pedigree
Bentley has long been synonymous with the racing world, with the early cars created by W.O. Bentley quickly grabbing the attention of a group of wealthy young men and women due to them being fast and dependable. This group of men and women would become known as the Bentley Boys and the Bentley Girls.
Initially, this group raced Bentley cars at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, with the brand taking five victories in just seven years. Mary Petre Bruce, one of the Bentley Girls, also broke the 24-hour solo record at a race at Montlhéry in 1929.
Away from the track in 1930, one of the Bentley Boys, Woolf Barnato, was set a challenge to race his car against the Blue Train on a journey from Cannes to Calais. Not only did Barnato win the race - and £200, though he was slapped with a £160 fine for racing on roads in France - but he managed to get all the way back to his club based in London before the Blue Train had reached the Calais station.
A continuing story of success
Since the turn of the new millennium, Bentley has achieved even more success in the racing world. The team of Guy Smith, Dindo Capello, Tom Kristensen, Johnny Herbert, David Brabham and Mark Blundell was first and second place at the Le Mans race in 2003, while the Bentley Belles - the first all-female team racing classic Bentley cars - won the Peter Korner trophy at the Spa Six Hours event in 2015.
Then there's the incredible feat of Rhys Millen and the Bentley Bentayga - the world's first luxury SUV. In June 2018, this duo managed to complete the challenging 12.52-mile Pikes Peak International Hill Climb course (also referred to as the Race to the Clouds due to the track featuring 156 corners during a climb of 14,115 feet), in a time of 10:49.9; almost two minutes quicker than the previous record set by a production SUV!
The Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner
As Bentley enters its 100th year, their Mulliner division has marked the occasion in a way which W.O. Bentley would have undoubtedly approved. The Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner pays a fitting tribute to Bentley’s founder, and even contains part of his very own car. With a production run limited to just 100 cars, this is an opportunity to own a priceless piece of Bentley’s story.