2000 - 2009
If certain sceptics still doubted Volkswagen’s commitment to the true values of the Bentley brand, they were soon silenced.
Massive investment in the Crewe facility substantiated their intention to maintain a thoroughly British bloodline. And the announcement of a new racing programme reawakened its spirit of daring endeavour.
As Bentley engineers took up the daunting challenge of designing and producing a race car to take on the best in the world, two other equally daunting programmes were underway at Crewe.
The first was the bespoke design of a Bentley State Limousine, commissioned through Bentley Mulliner, for none other than HM The Queen on the occasion of her Golden Jubilee.
The second was the secretly guarded development of the so-called MSB, a “mid-size Bentley” that would consolidate once and for all the breadth and strength of the Bentley revival.
As the 600bhp Bentley Speed 8 began to make its mark at Le Mans, the MSB – now openly referred to as the GT Coupe– was being put through its own gruelling tests.
The stunning Continental GT was unveiled at Paris in the same glorious year, attracting 3200 deposits eight months before the first one would be delivered.
In 2003 Bentley Speed 8’s finished third and fourth at the 12-hour race in Sebring, Florida. And then, almost eighty years since their debut, Bentley finished first and second at the most famous circuit of all, Le Mans.
The launch of the Limited Edition Bentley Arnage Limousine was followed in 2005 by the Bentley Continental Flying Spur. And the Bentley Arnage Drophead Coupé was confirmed for production as the exquisite Azure, and one year later the Continental GTC was announced. The revival was complete.
The Arnage and Azure combine personally-commissioned Mulliner refinement with extraordinary power. The Continental range, now including the brilliantly-received Convertible, introduced Bentley to an entirely new audience of enthusiasts eager to experience the true meaning of Grand Touring.
2007 saw the continuation of Bentley’s grand touring heritage with the introduction of the Bentley Brooklands; inspired by the adventures of the ‘Bentley Boys’ at the world renowned British racetrack in the 1920’s. A strictly limited production of only 550, the luxury four-seater coupe reaches 60mph in just 5 seconds, supporting Bentley’s vision in creating world-class exclusive coupes.
The automotive industry has found itself at the centre of the growing global environmental debate and facing new challenges – climate change and renewable fuel sources. At the 2008 Geneva Auto Salon, Dr Franz-Josef Paefgen, Bentley Chairman and Chief Executive, announced an ambitious strategy to cut CO2 emissions and significantly improve fuel economy across the Bentley range by 2012.
The extreme Bentley – Continental Supersports – debuted at the very same Auto Salon; the fastest, most powerful Bentley ever, reaffirmed the environmental commitment as Bentley’s first FlexFuel performance car.
2009 marks a major milestone in Bentley’s history, in celebration of 90 years of Bentley Motors, the all-new Bentley Mulsanne, a formidable accumulation of 90 years experience, joins the range and will be unveiled in all its splendour on 16th August at Pebble Beach.
The Bentley Mulsanne embraces the highest standard of modern technology, while remaining true to W.O. Bentley’s ambitions, carrying the traditions of craftsmanship and ultimate luxury forward into the future of Bentley.
The next chapters of Bentley history have yet to be written. But we can predict with some confidence that they will include luminous headlines in the motoring press and heartfelt praise from Bentley lovers the world over.