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What Makes A Bentley?

Posted by Chris Clark in Specialist Cars on 20th May 2016

About Chris Clark

Chris is a writer, a keen fencer and in his spare time a turbo-charged petrol head who enjoys track days, car shows and reading about cars he'll probably never own. He also drove a reasonably priced car around the Top Gear test track in a respectable 1:49.0

The brand with the most heritage, Bentley have set the benchmark for luxury for so long that anybody building a resplendent example of motoring extravagance will have Bentley in mind as inspirational deities of the road.

Their history stretches back over 100 years to the founder, W.O. Bentley, having a fascination for mechanics and wanting to produce a vehicle that provided comfort and performance to the driver. From winning Le Mans in 1927 through all their achievements, levels of performance and what they are producing today, we take a look at why Bentley deserve the title of specialist car.

What Makes A Bentley? Infographic

What Makes A Bentley Transcript

Bentley have been the embodiment of luxury for the past century and show no sign of slowing as they’ve just brought the refinement of its heritage to the 4×4 sector with the astonishing Bentley Bentayga. Below we celebrate the luxury of this specialist car brand. 


·         Walter Owen Bentley was born in 1888 in Hampstead, London – the youngest of 9 children.

·         In 1904, obsessed with the power of the steam locomotive he became an apprentice on the Great Northern railway.

·         1912 – W.O. and his brother Horace formed Bentley and Bentley selling French cars.

·         1923 – Bentley won Le Mans, which convinced Woolf Barnato to buy the company. W.O. quit after a disagreement.

·         Worked at Lagonda, Aston Martin and finally Armstrong Siddeley until retirement.

·         Died 1971 in Woking, Surrey.

·         1995 – Inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.

“To build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.” W.O. Bentley


‘Our approach to design is encapsulated within the Bentley ‘powerline.’ This is a single sharp edge, rising from the front wheel arch and cutting a purposeful path down the side of the car. This contour has identified our cars for decades. Today, it is still the first thing a Bentley designer draws when conceiving a new vehicle.’

·         Since 1919, Bentley have wanted to produce cars with the highest levels of bespoke luxury.

·         The Bentley design team includes over 100 experts from around the world.

·         Bentley’s state of the art factory in Crewe uses traditional artisans with expertise in leather, metal and wood


·         1914 – Improving the performance of DFP cars using lighter pistons made from 12% copper, 88% aluminium, Bentley won several races at Brooklands and captured 12 of the class B speed records in 1913 and 1914. These achievements were described by W.O as:

 “Representing the very highest point that motor car efficiency had ever reached.”

1952 – The Bentley R-Type Continental Coupe was the fastest 4-seat car in production at the time with a top speed of 101.7 mph. The Coupe was one of the first cars with tail fins, which aided stability at high speeds, developed in wind tunnels at design stage. It also featured an all-aluminium body to reduce weight.

1985 – The 2 ½ ton all-aluminium body, 300 horsepower turbo-charged V8 Bentley Turbo R achieved 0-60 in 6.7 seconds. 


·         1914 – Raced the DFP 12/40hp 2-litre speed model in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Race, averaging 48mph and finishing 6th out of 22 starters, all of which were of considerably greater horsepower, about which The Motor Sport magazine wrote:

“The DFP covered itself in glory – hard, unmistakable glory of solid, sound running of a remarkably high order”[vii]

·         Bentley won the Le Mans Grand Prix in 1924 and went on to claim the title in 4 consecutive years from 1927-1930. Le Mans wins remained at 5 in total for 83 years until the old passion was rekindled in 2003.

·         W.O. understood the positive branding effect that would come about from being associated with motor racing.

“I would have been perfectly content to see our cars circulating round Le Mans in inglorious solo solitude as long as the Daily Mail gave us their front page on a Monday morning!”

·         1928 – Bentleys again achieved first place, and put up the record for the course, at 69.11 m.p.h., while Birkin broke the lap record at 79.803 m.p.h. (Motorsport Magazine)

·         1991 – The Bentley Continental R was the first Bentley to feature a body not shared with Rolls-Royce since 1965 and the fastest, most expensive and most powerful Bentley to date. It was the most expensive production car in the world at time of launch.

·         2001 – Bentley build the first bespoke design Bentley State Limousine for the Queen on her golden Jubilee

·         2009 – 90 years of Bentley Motors was celebrated with the all new Bentley Mulsanne.

·         2015 – Idris Elba breaks the Flying Mile UK land speed record set by Sir Malcolm Campbell, in his 1927 bluebird, hitting top speed of 180.361 mph a Bentley Continental GT Speed.[x]

What makes a Bentley special?

Bentley have continued to innovate and steer the luxury motoring sector in their direction. From bespoke models to hand crafted examples of motoring genius, Bentley project a unifying light across a hundred years to combine a rich heritage with 21st century cutting edge design.

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What Makes A Bentley

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