The History of Bentley Motors

100 Years of Bentley

Bentley Motors: W.O. Bentley
"To build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class."

W.O. Bentley

Striving for perfection in every car it builds, Bentley’s persistence and attention to detail have helped it get to where it is today, ensuring that every model it creates delivers unrivalled performance and uncompromising luxury.

The first car bearing the Bentley name was released in 1919 – and from that moment, the company progressed from strength to strength to become the definitive British luxury car company. The brand was founded by W.O Bentley. To him, the aim was:

"To build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class."

Almost a century later, W.O.'s vision is still at the heart of the company’s beliefs, actions and ambitions. Located in Crewe, England and owned by Volkswagen AG since 1998, Bentley Motors still remains the definitive British luxury car company.

Here, we look back over Bentley Motors' history.

Bentley's History

The Bentley 'Blue Train'

The Bentley 'Blue Train' - Bentley Legacy Cars


A car that embodied glamour, speed and power, the pre-war Bentley era of the Blue Train Bentley Speed Six was like no other. The unique design that featured a low roofline, 2 1 cockpit, single side saddle rear seats and low purposeful profile was used again to inspire the design of the modern-day Continental GT. Some 'Blue Train' facts and figures:

  • Gurney Nutting Speed Six Coupé was a one-off design.
  • Powered by the same 180bhp engine as the Le Mans winning Speed Sixes.
  • Interior fitted with a side-saddle single rear seat - and cocktail cabinet.
  • Achieved 43.43mph between Cannes and Calais on pre-war Routes Nationales.
  • Controversy over which Speed Six Barnato drove to win the bet.
  • Barnato and co-driver Bourne reached the Conservative Club four minutes before the Blue Train reached Paris.
  • Collector Bruce McCaw owns both ‘Blue Train’ Bentleys – the Gurney Nutting and the Mulliner cars.
  • Bentley was fined for ‘racing on public roads’ and barred from Paris Salon.


The Bentley Blower

The Bentley Blower - Bentley Legacy Cars


Iconically known as the racing Bentley in the pre-war years, the 4 ½ litre Supercharged model was symbolically linked to its driver – Bentley Boy Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin. Thanks to Birkin's eccentric patron providing sponsorship, the Bentley Blower was able to become the racing legend it is known for today.

The Blower's finest hour appeared at the 1930 French Grand Prix at Pau and in a race plugged with Bugatti Grand Prix cars, Birkin managed to steal 2nd place in his Bentley.

In the words of engineer and automotive historian Laurence Pomeroy, "The spectacular feats of driving by Birkin, and the magnificent and imposing appearance of these cars have contributed to give them heroic and legendary fame".


The Bentley R-Type Continental

The Bentley R-Type Continental - Bentley Legacy Cars


The R-Type was groundbreaking in the automotive industry. In 1952, it was unheard of that any car could potentially drive at 100mph with four passengers present and luggage. This was until the Bentley R-Type Continental came along. As a limited edition, production ended in 1955 and only 208 models were ever produced. However, it became the foundations of the first Continental GT, which are still being designed to this day.


The Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur

The Bentley S1 Continental Flying Spur - Bentley Legacy Cars


An unofficial project to restore Bentley's grand tourer, H.J. Mulliner developed the continental formula used to create the R-Type Continental, to deliver the practicality of four doors – introducing the S1 Continental Flying Spur.

Just 432 models were created – and 217 of those had their coachwork create by H.J. Mulliner himself. However, the R-Type and the S1 Continental Flying Spur marked the end of an era; the end of the coach-building era.


The Bentley 3 Litre

The Bentley 3 Litre - Bentley Legacy Cars


Delivering exceptional speed potential and docility in traffic, the Bentley 3 litre features characteristics that very much define the Bentley brand, even to this day. Both Duff and Clement recorded their 1924 win at the Le Mans in this model, proving just how legendary the 3-litre model was.


The Bentley 8 Litre

The Bentley 8 Litre - Bentley Legacy Cars


As the last car that W.O Bentley designed for the brand, the Bentley 8 litre was the brand's finest grand tourer. It launched in 1930 and was known as the 'dead silent 100mph car'. However, because of the Wall Street Crash, only 100 models were produced between 1930 and 1932.

The second-ever Bentley 8 litre that was produced was used by W.O. Bentley as his own personal car for two years from 1930 – he drove it thousands of miles around England and Europe.


The Bentley Mark V & VI

The Bentley Mark V & VI - Bentley Legacy Cars


Also acknowledged as the silent sports car of its time, the Bentley Mark V was Bentley's answer to keep up with the evolving shapes of new automotive models, although the outbreak of WWII meant that the model was short-lived as production was put on hold.

When car production restarted, the Bentley Mark VI emerged – a fully developed Mark V featuring all the components and engineering revisions. The Bentley Mark V in the company's Lineage Collection is one of only seven remaining in the world.


The Mulsanne W.O. Edition by Mulliner

Own a priceless piece of Bentley's story

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.

Own a priceless piece of Bentley's story - Bentley Mulsanne W.O Edition by Mulliner at Grange

Grange has over 60 years of automotive heritage. We are extremely proud to now be an authorised dealer for the world-renowned luxury Bentley Motors marque. See the latest range of the most luxurious cars in the world at our new Bentley dealerships today.


Explore our Certified by Bentley cars