In 1919, W.O. finally made his dream a reality when he created a car that satisfied his need for speed. In October 1919, the first Bentley three-liter engine was created. After the invention of the first engine, Bentley enjoyed nearly a decade of uninterrupted success in world-renowned races including consecutive victories at Le Mans from 1927 to 1930. Fresh off a number of amazing victories on the track, Bentley began feeling the pains of the oncoming Great Depression. Rolls-Royce purchased the financially-ailing company and moved production to Derby soon after.
Bentley After World War II
Bentley created some of the most celebrated classic cars in history from the Mark IV to the Continental. However, that is not to say the company never hit a rough patch as many consider it a miracle that Bentley survived the post-war years.
Bentley acted as a wing of the Rolls-Royce name for many years before again making a name of its own. For a time there was little difference between the inner working of the two vehicles. This pattern of cloning cars continued and hit its peak in the 1970s when car enthusiasts couldn’t find the difference between the newer Bentleys and any other mass-produced vehicle other than the marquis "B" on the hood and because of this sales plummeted.
Other than the name itself, there was little left that maintained this vehicle's spot as a premier luxury and sports car. Rolls-Royce had done little if anything to market or manufacture this line of vehicle to a degree worthy of Bentley's past. However, that changed with one last spark of engineering and marketing know-how that became a fire with the introduction of the 1980 Bentley Mulsanne.
Mulsanne was named for the longest stretch of Le Mans, where Bentley caught people’s attention and the name Bentley reigned supreme for years. Sales took off, and the 1982 Mulsanne model had all of the comfort and smoothness of any Rolls-Royce. More amazingly, at 4,850 pounds it was faster than the Daimler Double Six, Aston Martin Lagonda, and even the Ferrari 365GT4.
Bentley was again its former self, and has since stuck to its roots expecting performance and function to go hand-in-hand with luxury in every model the company produced.
Some of the unique and superbly engineered luxury and performance vehicles you will find on the road today include the Continental Supersport, GT, GTC, Spur, and the ultra-luxurious Mulsanne.
For a look back, in 2003, Bentley introduced the Azure, a two-door convertible and the Continental GT, a large luxury coupe with a W12 engine. Four-door versions of each model came soon after. The Flying Spur was a four-door version of the Continental GT. In 2006 the four-door version of the Azure was patterned after the Arnage Drophead Coupe prototype. Also launching that year was the Continental GTC, a convertible version of the successful Continental GT.
Bentley in America
Today, Bentley is owned by Volkswagen and is considered one of the premier luxury brands in the United States and around the world. Even though Bentley is owned by the Volkswagen corporation it operates as a singular and independent car maker refusing to fall again into the pattern of vehicles mimicking a parent company's models. Bentley is considered to be within the top names in luxury and performance.
With all the refinement and technology that comes in a Bentley its no surprise it's expensive to purchase, maintain or even fuel up. Bentley is also known for providing luxury and comfort. You also get the satisfaction of a little taste of history since the first Bentley broke records at the Le Mans. Whether it’s the one-of-a-kind Mulsanne or the Supersport, there is nothing on the road as powerful and beautiful as a Bentley.