1930 - 1939

A new decade begins, and the scene is set for the eagerly awaited showdown between Britain’s two most famous marques.

Bentley, fresh from its latest one-two at Le Mans, launches an 8-litre directly in competition against its fabled Rolls-Royce rival. It’s a clash of proven performance against legendary smoothness, of sporting handling against quiet refinement.

Sadly, the Great Depression steps in to stop the battle before it’s begun. Rolls-Royce Ltd buys the financially vulnerable Bentley Motors, production moves to Derby, and an entirely new chapter of Bentley development is about to be written.

Despite the misgivings of Bentley loyalists, the first offspring of the unlikely marriage is dubbed by W.O. himself, now working for Rolls-Royce, as “the best car ever to bear my name”. Known as “The Silent Sports Car”, the 3 1/2 litre combines the best attributes of both brands – agility with luxury, power with silence.

New ideas and technological advances bring further refinements to the Bentley concept. A 4 1/4 litre engine, an overdrive gearbox, independent front suspension in the successful Mark V and, at last, with war-clouds blackening the European skies, the first tentative hint of the future Bentley Continental.