For car fanatics, Bentley means luxury, but little does the world know that the luxury car manufacturer has paved its way through hardships that began via serving the country during World War I. Walter Owen Bentley, famously known as W.O. Bentley, is the key person who made this into the company it is today, and envisioned the need of time to put forth the legendary fleet of cars celebrated for a lifetime.
W. O. Bentley started his career at the age of 16, with an apprenticeship in the Great Northern Railway. Later he got into business with his brothers in 1912 and dealt in importing cars from France. Further, his obsession with aluminum made him experiment with it, and he pioneered the use of a new alloy for making lightweight pistons. This new alloy was first used in Bentley’s rotary engine, the Bentley BR1 - which made the Sopwith Camel the most thriving British fighter aircraft during the war. The BR1 and the BR2 saved dozens of lives, as they were reliable, unlike other jet engines which would blow up. The Bentley engines were designed with utmost diligence and precision, which positioned W.O. Bentley to be a name among the finest engineers of his era and a notable contributor for the nation during WWI.
As the war came to an end, appreciation for the worthy was in order, and this is when W.O Bentley was awarded the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire in 1919. He even received £8000 from the commission of awards conferred to inventors. This hard-earned money allowed him to start his own company and on July 10, 1919, the world saw the birth of Bentley Motors. Their sole motive to make fast cars that were best in their class!
The 24-hour clocked miles!
With the company set up and cars rolling out, it wasn’t until 1923 that Bentley earned world recognition. It was when Frank Clement and John Duff went on to score the fastest lap at Le Mans in their 3-liter Bentley and finished fourth, that had placed Bentley on the automotive map of History. Bentley, later on, went to dominate the mighty 24-hour race with five wins in just seven years! These victories showcased the world that Bentley was in for the long run. Motorsports undoubtedly intervenes with any companies’ fortunes and riches, but for Bentley, it helped the company be categorised amongst the premium car manufacturers on the globe. Later years saw the company struggle with its finances and ultimately in 1931, the company was taken over by Rolls Royce, ironically the only luxury carmaker that could stand against the likes of Bentleys.
Tailor-made, hand-built, bespoke craftsmanship
Bentley still believes in delivering hand-assembled excellence, and the company understands that it is not a car, but an experience they’re delivering to its customers. Bentley cars, with their top-notch quality, state-of-the-art handcrafted wood, hand-build W12 engines, and hand-stitched leather interiors, sure make an impression and further ever proffer a sense of achievement to its owner. One can customise the car as per their choice, and the customisation isn’t limited to interiors or exteriors and color trims, but, they even allow you to choose from the stitch color to the color of choice for the ceramic brake calipers on your car apart from the million customising options at your disposal, which makes it truly and unmistakably yours!
Ever since the 1920s, the cars produced with the ‘Winged B’ on their emblem have carried the brand’s legacy as even the oldest working Bentley, the EXP2, stands proudly next to the 200,000 cars, the Bentayga Hybrid, after 102 years. The 200,000th car, the Bentayga Hybrid, even marks the company’s ongoing historic achievement of 75% hand-built production in the past 101 years. '
In 2003, the company christened a legend in the name of the Bentley Continental GT, making it the first offering of the modern-day Bentley era. If you consider the numbers, the Flying Spur, starting from 2005 till date, has bagged alone 40,000 sales, followed by the fastest SUV in the world, the Continental GT, with its 80,000 sales figures are in fact staggering numbers for a luxury car manufacturer! Bentley even claims that 85% of its cars ever produced are still on-road, and running, which is a commendable feat and the 102-year-old EXP 2 is a firm testament to that statement. Over the years, Bentley in itself has set the benchmark high of making bespoke luxury cars meant to last for the lifetime of its owner. With every drive bathed in luxury, it oozes a sense of accomplishment for the keeper. Over the past 102 years, Bentley still carries the same doctrines of W.O Bentley, who pledged to make “a good car, a fast car, the best in its class”.