image of W.O Bentley racing Quadrand motorcycle in 1907
Legendary Bentley DFP driving along a racetrack with spectators in the background

The Bentley Story

Our story

From W.O. Bentley, who founded Bentley Motors in 1919, to the current team of over 4,000 dedicated employees, the company’s extraordinary cars have always been designed and built by exceptional people using only the finest of materials. They have always been driven by exceptional people, too. From the passionate Bentley Boys and Girls who raced the cars in the 1920s, encouraging W.O. Bentley to achieve ever greater feats of engineering, to the visionary Bentley owners of today, Bentley drivers help to shape the world around them.


As a brand we are also constantly looking forwards, and in this section you will find our technological innovations and future vision for Bentley. And now we are going further, towards a more sustainable future. In 2020 Bentley Motors launched the ‘Beyond100’ Manifesto, which outlines our intention to become the most sustainable luxury Automotive brand in the world. 


The unique relationship between those who create the cars and those who drive them has helped create an enthralling story unlike any other. Explore the stories below to find out more.

Close up of Chrome Matrix grille.
Walter Owen Bentley, on driver' seat of Bentley race car with steering wheel and a passenger in view.

W.O Bentley

Born in 1888 as the youngest of nine siblings, Walter Owen Bentley – though he preferred to be called W.O. – founded the company that carries his name on 10 July 1919. Now, almost 100 years later, his name is known across the globe for creating cars with an unrivalled blend of performance and the finest craftsmanship and materials. Below, we take a look at the man who changed motoring forever.

Close up of Illuminated Flying ‘B’ radiator mascot – bright polished stainless steel set in the front end Bentley Flying Spur
Close up of jewel cut Bentley Full Led head lamps.

Origins of the Flying B

The Flying B
Flying higher
The return of the Flying B
A sense of flight
In the 1920s, a bonnet mascot was the ultimate automotive accessory. These miniature sculptures embodied effortless power and speed and announced your arrival in style. As well as creating Bentley’s winged B badge, celebrated artist F. Gordon Crosby also designed an ‘Icarus’ bonnet mascot. This appeared in some of the first Bentley catalogues but never went into production, perhaps because of copyright infringement. Instead, owners of Cricklewood-era Bentleys from the mid-1920s were offered the option of the first company-approved Flying B mascot – an ornate, upright brass ‘B’ featuring wings held horizontally, also thought to be a Crosby design.

By the 1930s, Bentley’s Derby-built ‘silent sports cars’ had become lower and sleeker. So in 1933, artist Charles Sykes, the designer of the Rolls-Royce Spirit of Ecstasy, was commissioned to create a new mascot. Sykes designed a single wing with a forward-leaning ‘B’ in the Art Deco style, with facets that allowed the ‘B’ to read correctly when viewed from either side. However, the single wing wasn’t popular, so the design was altered to feature a pair of wings. An alternative rearward-leaning Flying B was also available for MR and MX series overdrive Bentleys, to signify their sporting character. Owners had to remember to twist these mascots sideways before opening the bonnet, or risk denting the bodywork.

After the war, a smaller version of the dual-wing Flying B mascot appeared on Crewe-built Bentleys until the 1970s, when it was withdrawn due to pedestrian safety legislation that banned prominent solid ornaments. In 2006, the Flying B made a triumphant return, thanks to a mechanism that made it fully retractable. It was offered on the Azure, Arnage and Brooklands, and later on the Mulsanne. Special editions of the Flying B mascot have been offered by Bentley's Mulliner division, for limited edition models, a dark tint version and even including a gold Flying B.

In 2019, Bentley’s Centenary year, the new Flying Spur took the definitive four-door grand tourer in a new direction – accompanied by a new iteration of the Flying B. To mark the occasion, we held a competition among all Bentley designers to redesign the mascot for our second century. The winning design, by Hoe Young Hwang, was inspired by the owl. Poised and serene when stationary, the owl reveals immense power and agility in motion – much like the new Flying Spur. The minimalist, contemporary shape of the new design represents an owl gliding over a calm lake in pursuit of prey, the mascot’s widening base tracing out the wake created on the water. With every detail of this captivating car designed around the driver and passengers, particular attention was paid to creating a breathtaking wing span when viewed from the cabin. Cast out of stainless steel, the new Flying B is hand-polished and crafted using a process normally reserved for turbine engines. It fuses the traditional asymmetrical feathers with a distinctly modern touch – when the car is unlocked, the mascot is electronically deployed and the feathers illuminate in a carefully choreographed welcome sequence perfectly synchronised with the lighting of the headlamps.
Front view of bonnet featuring Chrome Bentley Flying Wings Badge and Black Gloss Matrix grille.
Close up view of Grey stone texture.

Origins of the Winged B

The first Winged B
The wings change direction
A centenary celebration
Before the first mascot was created, the Bentley Wings existed in a two-dimensional form. When W.O. Bentley started his car company in 1919, he needed a logo that summed up his quest to push the boundaries of performance. He turned to his friend F. Gordon Crosby, the most famous motoring artist of the pre-war years, who brought distant motor races and continental tours to life for readers of The Autocar. Crosby created the original Winged B – with the ‘B’ of Bentley inside a pair of wings chosen to represent the exhilaration of motion – and perhaps also a reference to W.O. Bentley’s background as a designer of engines for fighter planes in the First World War. Crosby gave each wing a different number of feathers to make it completely unique – and stay one step ahead of fraudulent imitations.
In the 1930s, when Bentley was under Rolls Royce ownership, the Bentley wings were streamlined, with the downward-pointing feathers straightened out to become horizontal. Each wing was also given 10 feathers, losing the asymmetry of the original. The logo was revised again in the 1990s and, as a nod to Crosby, the asymmetry was restored and the central ‘B’ revised to echo the original. Then in 2002, a definitive new corporate identity was created, including the winged ‘B’ that is still in use today, one that embodies modern Bentley values while still respecting its origins.

To celebrate 100 years of Bentley, a version of the Winged B was created exclusively for cars built during the Centenary year. The Bentley ‘B’ and the oval around it were outlined in a special metallic finish named Centenary Gold, and the dates 1919 and 2019 added either side of the ‘B’ – a fitting tribute to Crosby in a year that also marked a century since his original design.

Bentley 3 Litre race car, on an unpaved race track with mountains in backdrop.
Close up of Chrome matrix grille.

The Bentley 3 Litre

The 3 Litre
A fast car, a good car
Development of EXP 2
Production 3 Litre models
The 3 Litre in competition
Old Number 7
EXP 2 today

The 3 Litre represents W.O. Bentley’s original vision of ‘a fast car, a good car, the best in its class’ brought to life. It stayed in production from 1921 to 1929 and won countless races, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924 and 1927. A highlight of the company’s heritage collection is EXP 2, the second experimental Bentley 3 Litre. This is the oldest surviving Bentley and the first to win a race.

W.O. Bentley’s reputation as an engineer was forged before WWI when the French-made DFP in which he competed achieved a number of class wins in races and hillclimbs. W.O. was one of the first engineers to realise the performance advantages of aluminium as a piston material; this gave him a competitive advantage when racing the DFP and led to his wartime commission to design the Bentley Rotary 1 and 2 fighter aircraft engines. Discharged in 1919, Captain W.O. Bentley M.B.E set about creating the car that he’d been dreaming of throughout the long years of war. His experience of aircraft engines and their imperative for power with endurance had given him an excellent grounding; he was also influenced by two pre-war engine designs, the 1914 Grand Prix Mercedes and the 1913 Coupe de l’Auto Peugeot. Bentley’s 3 Litre monobloc engine featured four valves per cylinder, twin spark plugs, twin magnetos and made extensive use of aluminium and magnesium; an advanced specification for 1920, particularly for a road-going car. Like every Bentley since, the 3 Litre engine developed generous amounts of torque from low rpm, was durable, strong and capable of high performance. EXP 1 received a glowing test drive report in The Autocar from pioneer motoring journalist SCH ‘Sammy’ Davis: “For the man who wants a true sporting type of light-bodied car for use on a Continental tour – where speed limits are not meant to be observed – the 3 Litre Bentley is undoubtedly the car par excellence.” Meanwhile its stablemate EXP 2 made its debut at the 1919 Olympia Motor Show, though due to the late arrival of some engine components it was a static display model.

The new Bentley 3 Litre attracted a lot of interest from the Brooklands set. But it wasn’t until September 1921 that the first production Bentley 3 Litre was handed over to owner Noel van Raalte, by which time the rolling chassis price had increased from £750 to £1100. Between the 1919 Olympia Show and 1921 much work was needed to improve refinement. As W.O. later wrote, “I hate noise for the sake of noise. 70mph in silence is far more creditable than a noisy 80mph.” As a development ‘mule’ EXP 2 at first featured a plain 2-seater body but was rebodied in March 1921 with a sporting, dark red body and aluminium bonnet crafted by coachbuilders JH Easter of Chagford Street. It first raced at Brooklands on Saturday May 7th 1921 with Bentley works driver Frank Clement at the wheel but was unplaced. EXP 2 notched up Bentley’s first-ever race win (the Whitsun Junior Sprint Handicap) at Brooklands on Monday May 16th. It was used by the company for testing and further motor races throughout 1921 and 1922, before being sold to lorry manufacturer E.R. Foden on 7th September 1923.
Production of the 3 Litre was slow at first but Bentley’s order books were soon packed with the names of wealthy and aristocratic clients, including Prince George (later the Duke of Kent), the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII) and the Duke of York, later King George VI. The 3 Litre remained in production until 1929, and models included the standard wheelbase Blue Label (for which Bentley literature claimed “with four passengers it is guaranteed the machine will lap Brooklands at 75mph”), Red Label Speed and 100mph Green Label models. As was usual with prestige car makers during the 1920s and 30s, Bentley supplied the engine, drivetrain, suspension and chassis, leaving the choice of bodywork for the client. Some customers chose heavy, enclosed four-seater bodies which sapped the performance of the 3 Litre, and this trend prompted W.O. to develop the six-cylinder 6 ½ Litre Bentley. Other models produced at Cricklewood during the 1920s included the 4 ½ Litre, Speed Six and 8 Litre. However as a sporting open tourer the 3 Litre was well in advance of its rivals, offering continent-crossing speed and stamina. It remained the mainstay of the Bentley range in production volumes until 1927.
EXP 2 led the way with its debut win at Brooklands in 1921 and countless victories followed for production 3 Litre models. One owner, adventurer John Duff, decided to enter his 3 Litre in the newly-announced 24 Hour race at Le Mans in 1923. At first W.O. wanted nothing to do with the entry, declaring: “I think the whole thing is crazy. Cars aren’t designed to stand that sort of strain for twenty-four hours.” Fortunately Duff was a persuasive man, and at the last minute W.O. Bentley travelled to La Sarthe to watch the ‘crazy’ race. Duff and Bentley works driver Clement set the fastest lap and finished fourth, despite losing time with a hole in the petrol tank. The following year, 1924, Duff and Clement returned with the full support of Bentley Motors and won Le Mans outright. Duff also set 21 world records in 24 hours in 1925 at the wheel of a Bentley 3 Litre.
The most famous of all Bentley 3 Litre victories came at Le Mans in 1927, when both leading Bentley 4 ½ Litre works cars were eliminated at 9.30pm in a serious crash at the White House corner. SCH Davis, driving a Bentley 3 Litre, was also involved in the crash but managed to keep going despite a twisted chassis, bent front axle and damaged steering. Together with his partner Dr JD ‘Benjy’ Benjafield the two men managed to nurse ‘Old Number 7’ throughout the remainder of the race to a famous victory. At the Savoy celebration dinner the toast ‘to someone who should be present’ was proposed as the battle-scarred Bentley was wheeled into the dining room as a guest of honour. This tradition was revived in 2003 when the Bentley Speed 8 was the guest of honour at the Le Mans victory dinner.
EXP 2 was given a complete rebuild during the 1990s, restoring it to the original 1921 race-winning specification. Since being acquired by Bentley Motors it has resumed the role of ‘company demonstrator’ it first performed in the early 1920s. When not on show in the Crewe Lineage exhibition it has been a centrepiece of the World of Bentley in Shanghai, has carried Bentley guests around the Yas Marina circuit in Abu Dhabi and has also taken part in The Quail Rally and Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California. Fast approaching the end of its first century, EXP 2 is as ready for action as ever.
Detailed view of Bright Polished Chrome Grille.
Group of gentlemen posing along side a Bentley

Bentley Boys and Girls

Bentley Boys - Always ready for a race, a challenge or a glass of champagne, the first generation of Bentley Boys were a close-knit group of extraordinary playboys, racers and adventurers who achieved global fame during the 1920s and 30s. They inspired a whole generation of Bentley drivers and admirers, with their passion for driving and deep love of a challenge. And behind the wheel of Bentley motorcars, they dominated Le Mans with five wins in just eight years.


Bentley Girls - The Bentley Boys may have set the pace, but Bentley Girls refused to take a back seat, making their mark in inimitable Bentley Style. Mary Petre Bruce, Dorothy Paget and Diana Barnato – Bentley’s Flying Lady – each played an extraordinary part in building the Bentley legend. 


Bentley Blower 4.5 litre supercharger, taking a sharp turn on an unpaved race track.
Close up of Beluga Hide featured in Bentley models.

The Bentley Blower

4 1/2 Litre Supercharger
The quest for more power
Birkin's eccentric patron
The Blower at Le Mans
Heroic drives
For many enthusiasts, the imposing ‘Blower’ Bentley is the iconic racing Bentley of the pre-war years, forever linked with the image of its driver, the dashing Bentley Boy Sir Henry (Tim) Birkin. Ironically, the 4 ½ Litre Supercharged was the least successful of all the Cricklewood Bentleys in competition – and founder W.O. Bentley bitterly opposed its development. But while it lasted, the 4 ½ Litre Supercharged went like a rocket, earning Bentley a legion of fans at every race it entered.
By 1928, it had become clear that the 4 ½ Litre was reaching the end of its development and that competitors were closing the gap fast on Bentley’s racing supremacy. For W.O. Bentley, the answer was simple; increase engine capacity. His highly successful 6 ½ Litre Speed Six was the result, winning Le Mans in 1929 and 1930. But Tim Birkin preferred the supercharging option, based on the four-cylinder 4 ½ Litre. In 1929 Birkin commissioned the production of a series of 4 ½ Litre Bentleys, powered by a supercharger developed by independent engineer Amherst Villiers. Power increased from around 110bhp to 175bhp with the supercharger installation. To meet the requirements of racing rules of the period, 50 production ‘Bentley Blowers’ had to be made; funding for Birkin’s team was provided by the wealthy heiress the Hon. Dorothy Paget. W.O. opposed the idea, saying the supercharger would ‘pervert the engine’s design and corrupt its performance’, but Birkin persuaded Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato to approve the project. W.O. Bentley was overruled.
The daughter of Lord Queensborough and American heiress Pauline Whitney, Dorothy Wyndham Paget was one of Britain’s best-known racehorse owners, winning 1,532 races with a number of trainers. She was also highly eccentric; in later life she became entirely nocturnal, eating breakfast at 6.30pm, lunch at 10.00pm and a large dinner in the early morning. But as a young woman in the late 1920s, a visit to Brooklands kindled her interest in motor racing. She took driving lessons from Tim Birkin and, it’s claimed, competed under the pseudonym ‘Miss Wyndham’. Birkin described her as one of the finest women drivers of fast cars he had ever come across. Without her sponsorship, the Blower Bentley would never have entered racing legend.
The duel between Mercedes-Benz driver Rudolf Caracciola and Sir Tim Birkin at the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hour race has passed into legend. As with many legends it’s hard to separate fact from fiction. For the race, Bentley fielded three team Speed Sixes as well as Birkin’s independent team of supercharged 4 ½ Litre Bentleys. From the start Birkin and Caracciola ran neck and neck, Birkin famously passing the SSK Mercedes on the Hunaudières straight with two wheels on the grass. Neither car lasted the distance, leaving Barnato to take victory with Glen Kidston in a Speed Six, ‘Old Number One’. Later Bentley encouraged the myth that Birkin had deliberately overextended the Mercedes with a ‘tortoise and hare’ strategy in the ‘Blower’, leaving the team Speed Sixes to take the win. It’s more likely that Birkin was aiming for the win and only knew one way to drive – flat out. The reason for the Blower’s failure in endurance racing was perfectly summed up by Nobby Clarke, Bentley’s Racing Manager; “The Blower eats plugs like a donkey eats hay”.

The Blower’s finest hour arrived in the 1930 French Grand Prix at Pau; amid a field of Bugatti Grand Prix cars, Birkin wrestled the huge Bentley to a heroic 2nd place. At a start line weight of over 2 tonnes, Birkin’s Blower was almost certainly the heaviest car ever entered in a grand prix, a roadgoing tourer among purpose-built racing cars. Another of Birkin’s Blower Bentleys, registration UU 5871, was converted to a single seater with faired-in radiator for racing on the banked circuit at Brooklands. With the engine now delivering 240bhp, Birkin recorded a lap record at Brooklands of 137.96mph in March 1932, his car often airborne due to the poor quality of the concrete banking. In the words of engineer and automotive historian Laurence Pomeroy, “the spectacular feats of driving by Birkin, and the magnificent and imposing appearance of these cars, have contributed to give them a heroic and legendary fame.”

Bentley Speed Six, rear view, driving on a race track in rain
Close up of Jewel cut, diamond shaped, Full LED Bentley tail lamp

Bentley Speed Six

The most successful racing Bentley
Developing a new engine
The Speed Six chassis
A racing version of The Speed Six
The Speed Six became the most successful racing Bentley in history, as a high-performance version of the 6½ Litre, and won Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 at the hands of Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin and Glen Kidston.

W.O. Bentley believed that the best way to increase power was to increase capacity, as opposed to Tim Birkin’s faith in supercharging. He therefore developed a new, larger engine to succeed the 4½ Litre. With a bore of 100 mm and a stroke of 140 mm, his new straight six had a capacity of almost 6.6 litres. In base form, with a single Smiths five-jet carburettor, twin magnetos and a compression ratio of 4.4:1, the 6½ Litre delivered 147 bhp at 3500 rpm. 362 examples were built at Bentley’s factory in Cricklewood, North London, on a variety of chassis of different lengths depending on the body style requirements of individual customers.

The Speed Six chassis was introduced in 1928 as a more sporting version of the 6½ Litre. The engine was modified to liberate more power, with twin SU carburettors, a higher compression ratio and a high-performance camshaft, responsible for an increase to 180 bhp. The Speed Six chassis was available to customers with wheelbases of 138 inches (3,505 mm), 140.5 inches (3,569 mm), and 152.5 inches (3,874 mm), with the short chassis being the most popular. 182 Speed Six models were built between 1928 and 1930, and the factory race cars were built on a 134 inch (11’2”) chassis frame.
The racing version of the Speed Six had a further-developed engine running a compression ratio of 6.1:1 and producing 200 bhp. Two wins at Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 cemented the Speed Six’s place in Bentley history, with the 1929 victory setting a new benchmark for dominance at the race. Driven by Woolf Barnato and Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, a Speed Six led from the first lap until the chequered flag, followed by a procession of three other Bentleys. A new lap record of 7:21 had been set by Birkin, taking 46 seconds off the previous best and requiring an average speed of 83 mph, and in covering a 2,844 km distance, a further record was also attained. Such a dominant performance by one manufacturer was not seen again at Le Mans for nearly 30 years.
Bentley Speed Six Coupe, side angled view with Walker Owen posing with it and trees in backdrop.
Close up of Bright Polished Chrome matrix grille.

The Bentley Blue Train

The 'Blue Train' Bentley Speed Six
The driver and the dare
Rain, fog and punctures
In London before the train reaches Calais
Which Speed Six?
Few cars embody the glamour, speed and power of the pre-war Bentley era better than the ‘Blue Train’ Bentley Speed Six. In this car Bentley Boy Woolf Barnato raced and beat the famous Train Blue northwards from the Côte d’Azur to Calais. His achievement was so exceptional that a 2015 re-run by Car Magazine in a Continental GT3-R only just managed to beat Barnato’s average speed set in 1930. For years the Bentley that beat the Blue Train was thought to be a Speed Six coupé built by coachbuilders Gurney Nutting. The low roofline and 2+1 cockpit with a single ‘side-saddle’ rear seat gives it a lean, low and purposeful profile; this unique design was cited by Bentley’s design team as one of the inspirations for the modern-day Continental GT. Yet there is a mystery about which Speed Six Barnato drove through France for his famous dare. Was it the Gurney Nutting, or his Mulliner-bodied saloon? Perhaps every legend has its secrets…
Woolf Barnato – heir to a vast fortune from the Kimberley diamond mines in South Africa – was the ultimate ‘Bentley Boy’. A brilliant sportsman, bon viveur and generous host, he became Chairman of Bentley Motors in 1926 when the company was struggling for capital. W.O. Bentley considered him the best of all the team’s drivers, and Barnato’s 100% record at Le Mans – three wins in three starts – confirms W.O.’s judgement. Barnato was at a dinner party on board a yacht near Cannes in March 1930 when the subject of racing the famous Blue Train came up, as both Rover and Alvis had recently beaten the train from St Raphael to Calais. Barnato wasn’t impressed, calling the achievement ‘no great shakes’. He wagered £200 that at the wheel of his Speed Six he could beat the train to Calais with ease. Knowing how canny Barnato was, none of his companions would take the bet - so he resolved to do the run anyway, to prove his point. The next day at 5:45pm, as the Blue Train left the railway station at Cannes, Barnato and his companion, amateur golfer Dale Bourne, left the Carlton Bar in Cannes and set off in the Speed Six.
During the 185 miles from Cannes to Lyon, the two men encountered heavy rain which slowed their progress. At around 4am, between Lyon and Paris, near Auxerre, the team lost time searching for their pre-arranged refuelling rendezvous. Despite this setback, some dense fog near Paris and a puncture which used their only spare tyre, Barnato and Bourne finally reached Calais at 10:30 in the morning. They had covered over 570 miles at an average speed of 43.43 mph, an impressive achievement on the dusty and rough roads of the time.
Barnato had arrived in Calais so far ahead of the train that he decided to continue on to London. After crossing the Channel in a packet steamer, being waved through Customs and driving hard for almost 700 miles, Woolf Barnato parked his Speed Six outside the Conservative Club in St. James’ Street at 3.20pm. Just four minutes later the Blue Train arrived at the station in Calais. Barnato had won his unofficial dare, although the French Motor Manufacturer’s Association fined Bentley Motors around £160 for racing on public roads and barred Bentley from the Paris Salon of 1930. Barnato claimed that he had raced as a private individual and not as the Chairman of Bentley … a claim that failed to convince the authorities.

For many years it was believed that the Bentley Speed Six in which Woolf Barnato beat the Blue Train was a two-door coupé bodied by the coachbuilders Gurney Nutting. Certainly, the Bentley chairman did own the car; and it was the Gurney Nutting coupé that contemporary artist Terence Cuneo depicted in his famous painting of the duel. But recently Bruce McCaw, current owner of the Gurney Nutting Speed Six, uncovered evidence that it may not have been finished until after the date of the drive. Some historians believe that Barnato, who owned a stable of Bentleys, raced the Blue Train in his Mulliner-bodied four-door Speed Six saloon, not the Gurney Nutting coupé. To put the controversy to bed, Seattle-based collector McCaw traced the chassis and engine of Barnato’s Mulliner-bodied Speed Six, and also located the bodywork on a different Bentley chassis. He reunited the chassis with its original bodywork and showed the restored Mulliner Speed Six alongside his Gurney Nutting Speed Six at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in August 2003. Bruce McCaw accepts that it was probably the Mulliner-bodied saloon that raced the Blue Train, although definitive proof may never be uncovered. But the Gurney Nutting Coupé is still widely known as the Blue Train Coupé, and it remains one of the most iconic car designs in Bentley history. 

Interior, driver's side view of Bentley 8 litre featuring analogue gauges to centre console and 4 spoke steering wheel.
Detailed textured view of Terra Red stone veneer

Bentley 8 Litre

The finest grand tourer
A 'dead silent 100mph'
W.O.'s personal car
Reunited by the BDC
The CEO's company car
The 8 Litre was W.O. Bentley’s finest grand tourer. It was also the last car he designed for Bentley Motors. Launched in 1930, it was the largest and most luxurious Bentley of its time. Its launch coincided with the worldwide depression caused by the Wall Street Crash, however. Demand for the car slowed and the company encountered financial difficulties, leading to a change in ownership. As a result, only 100 examples of the 8 Litre were built between 1930 and 1932.
At the time of the 8 Litre’s launch, W.O. declared: “I have always wanted to produce a dead silent 100mph car, and now I think we have done it.” Such was the power of the car’s 7,983cc, straight-6 engine, that the company guaranteed it would be capable of at least 100mph, regardless of the chosen coachwork.

The first production 8 Litre was delivered to the music hall star ‘Gentleman’ Jack Buchanan in October 1930. W.O. took the second car, chassis YF 5002, as his personal car, commissioning H.J. Mulliner to build a saloon body on the 12-foot short-wheelbase chassis. Originally registered GK 706, this car was W.O.’s personal transport from October 1930 for the next two years. He drove it for thousands of miles in Britain and Europe, and recalled travelling from Dieppe to Cannes, ‘…in the day, without having to switch on the lights, cruising at around 85mph for hour after hour’. For a present, his wife commissioned a painting by celebrated artist Ray Nockolds showing her back-seat view of W.O. at the wheel.

When Bentley Motors was taken over in 1931, W.O. Bentley had to sell his beloved 8 Litre. Later in his life, however, he was reunited with it at a Bentley Drivers’ Club celebration held in his honour.
In 2006 W.O.’s 8 Litre was acquired by Bentley Motors and sympathetically restored. It has since become a symbolic ‘company car’ for each successive Bentley CEO, preserving a tradition that dates back to the company’s founder.
Side angled view of 4.25 Litre Derby Bentley, black exterior featuring halogen lamps and vertical vaned radiator
Vertical fluted Bright Polished Chrome grille.

Bentley Mark V

The 4 ¼ Litre Derby Bentley
Independent front suspension
Prototypes and one-offs
Ready for sale
The Bentley Lineage Collection’s Mark V
It was advertised as the ‘Silent Sports Car’ – was refined, reliable and loved by owners, among them land speed record holder Sir Malcolm Campbell. But by the late 1930s it had become obvious that its chassis design was becoming dated. Competitors with newer designs were crowding in and sales were in decline. The Bentley Mark V was the company’s answer – but its time was short-lived, as the outbreak of WWII halted all car production until 1946. Following the war the first car to emerge from the Crewe works was the highly successful Bentley Mark VI. This was effectively the fully-developed form of the Mark V, including all the components and engineering revisions originally planned for its predecessor.
The Mark V was powered by an OHV crossflow 4257cc six-cylinder engine, similar in concept to that of the 4 ¼ Litre Bentley but substantially revised. A new and robust cruciform chassis featured deep side members, making it stiffer to the benefit of both refinement and handling. Brakes were servo driven and the four-speed overdrive gearbox now featured synchromesh on 2nd, 3rd and 4th gears. But the biggest change was the adoption of independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones.

The first Mark V prototypes were warmly received by the Board of Directors and a series of Mark V Bentleys were prepared for long-distance testing in continental Europe during 1938. The company also commissioned an aerodynamic version called the Corniche; it was designed by Georges Paulin, creator of the influential Embiricos Bentley, and bodied by Carosserie Vanvooren in France. Unfortunately this ‘missing link’ between pre-war Embiricos and post-war Continental was badly damaged in a crash on 7th August 1939 in France; the chassis was returned to Derby while the entire body was removed and repaired at a local coachworks. The repaired body was later waiting on the dockside at Dieppe when it was caught in a bombing raid and completely destroyed. Another one-off prototype was an eight-cylinder version of the Mark V, nicknamed the ‘Scalded Cat’ due to its electrifying performance.

According to automotive historian Ken Lea, the Bentley Mark V was ‘probably the most thoroughly developed and tested car the company had seen.’ It was signed off for production in time for its planned debut at the 1939 Olympia Motor Show, where it would have been displayed with bodywork by a number of independent coachbuilders. Following the outbreak of war in September 1939 both production and the motor show were cancelled.
The Bentley Mark V in the company’s Lineage Collection is one of only seven remaining in the world. Designated as chassis number B-32-AW (with connections for the optional heater) it was ordered by coachbuilder James Young on 7th July 1939 to be fitted with a two-door coupé body for display at the New York World Fair. The order was cancelled on the outbreak of war but the company decided to go ahead with production of a small number of Mark V Bentleys for internal trials. B-32-AW was finally completed in May 1940 by Park Ward with a standard steel four-door sports saloon body. After internal assessment by the company, it was delivered to first owner Geoffrey Smith on the 19th October 1940. Recently, it has been sensitively restored to its original specification by the Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust.
Bentley R-Type Continental 1952, front side angled view featuring Flying B radiator mascot, vertical vaned radiator - parked outside Bentley Woodshop.
Textured view of Tamo Ash by Mulliner hide

R-Type Continental

A template for Bentley grand touring
Re-Inventing Bentley
Creating the R-Type Continental
Production approval
A modern magic carpet

In 1952, cars that could hit a top speed of 115mph were uncommon. Cars that could cruise at 100mph with four occupants (and luggage) were unheard of - until the R-Type Continental. Although only 208 were produced, the R-Type Continental created a template for Bentley grand touring that lasted decades. It even inspired the design team working on the first Continental GT, fifty years later.

Pre-war, two coachbuilt specials had shown what a Bentley of the future might be. Both the ‘Embiricos’ Bentley and the Corniche featured streamlined bodies and were capable of cruising at high speeds on the fast roads of the continent. One man who took careful note of these one-off creations was the company’s chief projects engineer, Ivan Evernden. Although a lifelong Rolls-Royce employee, he was inspired to reinvent Bentley for the post-war world and distance it from its more staid cousin. He was assisted by John Blatchley, chief of the newly-created styling department at Crewe, who sketched a low, long and lithe body shape, with its radiator inclined backward from the vertical, a steeply raked windscreen, rear wheelspats and a fastback roofline. Fins were added to the rear wings to aid stability at high speed. A quarter-scale model was made and tested in the company’s aero-engine division’s tunnel at Hucknall, in Nottinghamshire. Evernden estimated that air speeds of up to 120mph were attainable. “Much more could have been done” he wrote in July 1962, “…but the purpose of the exercise was to reduce the aero drag of a conventional car and not to make a space capsule for an astronaut.”

Using the R-Type chassis as a base, Evernden and Blatchley designed a grand tourer in the Bentley tradition, using aerodynamics and lightweight construction to create a vehicle capable of running for long periods at high speed across Continental Europe. It became an icon of its era; beautifully crafted, fast and exclusive. Mechanically, the standard 4,566cc, six-cylinder in-line engine was gently tuned, raising the power from 140 to 153bhp, with a higher final drive ratio to take advantage of the lighter, more aerodynamic body. Coachbuilders H.J. Mulliner were tasked with creating the new, streamlined Bentley coupé. To save weight, the bodywork was made in aluminium, as were the window frames, the windscreen surround and the backlight. Even the seat frames and bumpers were aluminium. To pare weight to a minimum, a radio was considered superfluous. Weight was the critical factor; tyres that could carry a two-ton motor car at speeds of over 115mph didn’t exist in 1950. Evernden calculated that if the new grand tourer were to cruise at 100mph or more, it would have to weigh a maximum of 34 cwt (around 1750 kilograms). Even so, this combination of weight and speed was right on the limit for the specified Dunlop Medium Distance Track tyres. All the hard work paid off. In September 1951, at the Montlhèry track near Paris, the sleek new Bentley averaged 118.75 mph over five laps, with a best lap speed just under 120mph.

Up to this point the prototype - OLG 490, nicknamed Olga – was a semi-official project. Some on the Board of Directors felt it was ‘too sporty’ for a company that also made Rolls-Royce limousines. But with the help of allies within the company and its overseas dealerships, Evernden persuaded The Board that a market existed for a coachbuilt Bentley grand tourer. As he had hoped, orders came in from all over the world, even at the immense price of £6,928 including UK purchase tax. To put this in context, in 1952 Britain the average annual salary was £468, and the average house cost £1891. Many owners specified extras, which had an impact upon the weight of some models produced during the R-Type Continental’s three years of production. A bigger bore engine with a capacity of 4,887cc maintained the performance, with a practical top speed of around 115mph and easy cruising at 100mph. Later production cars also differed from ‘Olga’ in having a lower roofline, a one-piece windscreen and revised wing line. By the time production ended in 1955, 208 R-Type Continentals had been built. All but 15 of them were bodied by H.J. Mulliner.

Accolades followed the launch of the R-Type Continental. The Autocar summed up its appeal; “Whatever memorable motoring experiences one may have had, this was something different…this Bentley is a modern magic carpet which annihilates great distances and delivers the occupants well-nigh as fresh as when they started.”

Side view of 1958 S1 Continental Flying Spur
Vertical fluted Bright Polished Chrome grille.

S1 Continental Flying Spur

1958 S1 Continental Flying Spur
A four-door Continental
Heraldic inspiration
The Bentley Collection’s S1 Flying Spur
End of an era
In 1952, Bentley’s chief designer J.P. Blatchley and engineer Ivan Evernden collaborated on an unofficial project to restore Bentley to the pinnacle of grand touring. Their creation, the R-Type Continental of 1952, caused a sensation. With its sleek bodywork by H.J. Mulliner and ability to cruise all day at 100mph, it was hailed as the ultimate grand touring coupé. H.J. Mulliner’s later Continental Flying Spur extended the Continental formula with the added practicality of four doors.
Given the success of the R-Type Continental, Bentley continued to offer a Continental driveline and chassis following the launch of the new S-Series in 1955. H.J. Mulliner, Park Ward, James Young, Hooper, Graber and Franay all produced their own two-door designs upon the chassis, but it was H.J. Mulliner that first produced a four-door, the Continental Flying Spur.

The new four-door was named by Arthur Talbot Johnstone, H.J. Mulliner’s Managing Director, after the heraldic device of his family, the clan Johnstone of the Scottish Borders. The first example actually featured the clan Johnston’s spur mascot on its radiator grille. Following the success of the H.J. Mulliner Flying Spur, other coachbuilders offered their bespoke interpretations of a four-door Continental. Of a total production of 432 S1 Continentals, H.J. Mulliner created the coachwork for 217 models.

The S1 Continental Flying Spur in Bentley’s Lineage Collection is a 1958 H.J. Mulliner model with the 180bhp 4.9 Litre straight-six engine, finished in black with grey interior. It would have cost £8034, around ten times the average UK salary at the time. This example has the optional automatic gearbox and air conditioning, and even today is capable of covering long distances in great comfort. It’s a grand tourer in the Bentley tradition, and an inspiration for the design team that created today’s Flying Spur.

The R-Type Continental and S-Type Continental represented the last flourish of the coachbuilding era, where Bentley produced the chassis and driveline while the bodywork and interior was crafted by independent coachbuilders. From 1946 Bentley also offered complete cars built at Crewe: over time, it became harder and harder for independent coachbuilders to match the factory offering. The S-Series Bentley was the last to feature a separate chassis, and with the arrival of the T-Series in 1965, the era of the independent specialist coachbuilder came to an end.
Detailed textured view of Terra Red stone veneer
Side angled view of Bentley Brooklands Coupe featuring vented brakes and and Bentley Radiator Mascot, parked indoors.

Bentley Brooklands

First produced in 1993, 2007 saw the triumphant return of the Bentley Brooklands. Descended from an incomparable bloodline of truly potent coupés and taking power to a new level, the Bentley Brooklands featured the most powerful V8 engine Bentley had ever created, capable of top speeds of 184mph (296km/h).

Bentley Azure, roof down, parked on a hill with water body in background.
Close up of detailed contrast stitching set in Portland hide.

The Azure range

The Azure Range
Azure T
The Azure is a convertible that was unmatched, in performance and potency and one that is truly evocative. The Azure first made its debut in 1995 and was produced in its original appearance until 2003. The second generation Azure, first announced in 2005, brought a higher performance grand tourer to the market which was heralded in 2009 with an end-of-life Azure T limited edition.

The open road. The open skies. The Azure. Originally launched in 1995, and subsequently followed by the second generation in 2006, the Azure is a convertible that was unmatched, in its time, in performance and potency and one that is truly evocative. In every sense a Bentley, with perfect interior refinement and a flowing silhouette. This is a car that takes a mere 25 seconds for its roof to glide away revealing the freedom of the heavens. A computer-controlled four-speed automatic gearbox brings a smoother shift and more interaction to the driving experience translating the power of the 6.75 Litre twin turbocharged, V8 engine into effortless propulsion. The Azure was not only a luxury car but also a serious performance car, accelerating from 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds (0-100km/h in 5.9 seconds), with a top speed of 171 mph (274km/h) available on demand.

Luxury and power is an intoxicating mix; one which the Azure had so naturally perfected. Next came the Azure T. All the elegance, fluid lines and hand craftsmanship of the Azure, but with a new potency that made it more desirable than ever. A sporting pedigree that can be traced back to a celebrated era of Bentley design reflected in its muscular, imposing stance. Yet this was an unquestionably contemporary car; a luxurious British masterpiece in the finest tradition. From its distinctive, confident presence through to the sophisticated styling of the interior creating a pure luxury open-top experience for four companions. The Azure T bestowed a sense of freedom; the infinite space of the sky matched by the indescribable feeling of the wave of torque. 1000Nm (738 lb-ft) released by the iconic 6.5 Litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine. Now with the heightened potential of 500bhp (373kW) and the sheer exhilaration of reaching 60mph in just 5.2 seconds (0-100km/h in just 5.5 seconds), with a top speed of 179 mph (288 km/h). A formidable force, perfectly balanced to assure and inspire.

Side view of Bentley Arnage, driving through an urban setting.
Close up of Belgua hide, featured in Bentley Arnage Range.

The Arnage range

The pinnacle of the luxury Saloon market
Arnage R
Arnage RL
Arnage T
Arnage Final Series

For years, the Arnage enjoyed extraordinary success at the pinnacle of the luxury saloon market. Since its debut in 1998, the Arnage conveyed an air of sophisticated understatement as the four-door flagship of the Bentley range. The Final Series production was a celebration of the Arnage era with a limited production of just 150 cars.

Introduced in 1998 the Arnage, named after a corner at the famous Le Mans racing circuit, became Bentley’s best-selling model. Initially powered by a twin-turbocharged 4.4 Litre V8 engine, the Arnage boasted impressive performance and refinement. In 1999 this Arnage became known as the Arnage Green Label, when the range was expanded to include the popular Arnage Red Label derivative, powered by Bentley’s 6.75 Litre turbocharged V8 engine.

Arnage R since its introduction in 2002, has been an unrivalled example of the Grand Touring philosophy, making every journey a unique experience of power, luxury and control. This is a place where two very different worlds are perfectly united. Tradition and technology in absolute harmony. From the flawless leather of the seats to the computer-controlled six-speed gear box, driver and passengers sit in an environment of stunning aesthetics and fingertip control. An oasis from which to savour every nuance of the twin-turbocharged 6.75 Litre V8 engine, with 400bhp at your command. A 0-60mph time of 5.9 seconds (0-100km/h in 6.3 seconds) and a top speed of 155mph (249km/h) waiting to be relished.

Launched in 2001, the Arnage RL is the culmination of world-class coachbuilding that spans generations. It is a car that takes personalisation to a new level, where the vehicle is a canvas on which you can paint your vision. With its extended wheelbase, 2 inches (50mm) to the front and 8 inches (200mm) to the rear compartment, the RL retains the classic Arnage profile whilst offering even more palatial comfort for the passengers. But make no mistake; this is a car to drive. The turbocharged 6.75 Litre V8 engine, harnessed by a highly engaging sixspeed automatic gearbox, makes this an experience impossible to miss. The Arnage RL gave its owners the opportunity to realise virtually anything imaginable - all designed and handcrafted by the most skilled automotive artisans in the world. These are people who understand not only the heritage of Bentley, but also the pleasures of luxury in a contemporary world. From fashioners of burnished walnut and fine hides to the audio experts who can turn the interior of a Bentley into a concert hall, to specialists who can bring the cinema or television to the rear seat.

Launched in 2002, the Arnage T delivers silent luxury that contrasts sharply with the power available underneath your right foot. Surrounded by sublime handcrafted excellence, it’s easy to forget the potency that lies ahead of you. 6.75 Litres of energy contained in a masterful V8 engine, supported by a state-of-the-art computer controlled four-speed gearbox and countless electronic systems guiding every movement. An Electronic Stability Programme for spirited handling with no compromise to stability or safety. Technology that lives for the road without sacrificing a single moment of your driving experience.

From its debut in 1998 the Arnage conveyed an air of sophisticated understatement as the four-door flagship of the Bentley range. Over the next decade the car experienced a period of constant refinement to its body, design, chassis and powertrain to maintain its class-leading position in the high luxury market. To celebrate 10 years of the Arnage, 50 years of its mighty V8 engine and 90 years of the marque, Bentley Motors launched Bentley Arnage Final Series. This model featured a unique specification, combining the performance of the 500 bhp Arnage T with the refinement of the Arnage R and design elements from the Brooklands coupé, for the ultimate expression of British luxury and effortless power in a four-door saloon – a grand finale, for the grandest of Bentleys, in an exclusive run of only 150 cars.

Close up of Bentley Continental GTC's jewel cut full LED headlamps.
Bentley Continental GTC, in Silverlake colour featuring 21 inch wheels, parked on top of hill with sea in view.


Early in the 21st century, a stunning, two-door Bentley was unveiled, one that refined and redefined the language of grand tourer design. The revolutionary Continental GT has combined phenomenal performance and exquisite craftsmanship for more than a decade, with continual enhancements pushing the boundaries of technology, from sheer power to the choice of finishes.


This modern classic has been giving rise to countless Continental stories since the day it was launched. From four-time world rally champion Juha Kankkunen breaking the world ice speed record in a Continental GT Convertible to pop art legend Peter Blake creating a unique exterior for a Continental GT V8 S, this is a car that continues to inspire.

Green laminar leaves with serrated edges.
Bentley Flying Spur Mulliner, front side view with duo tone, exterior and matrix grille with black surround, driving on road.

Flying Spur

The Bentley Flying Spur was created to be a superlative four door sedan - for drivers and passengers alike. With enough space for four adults to travel in extraordinary comfort, the Flying Spur offered surging power combined with agility. Its acceleration, handling and all-wheel drive capability all contributed to an exceptional drive experience, taking both performance and luxurious interior craftsmanship to a new level.

Textured view of Tamo Ash by Mulliner hide
Bentley Mulsanne front view, featuring Matt Black matrix grille and Bentley Radiator Mascot, driving along a road with trees in backdrop.


The Bentley Mulsanne spent a decade as the flagship model of the Bentley range. The world’s finest handmade car represents the ultimate combination of both luxury and performance. The range offered a choice of two remarkable vehicles: the Mulsanne; and the Mulsanne Speed for more dynamic driving. The Mulsanne was given a face lift in 2014, with new design cues and interior options, and a new derivatives joined the Mulsanne range: Mulsanne Extended Wheelbase offering extra legroom and comfort.

Close up of Bright Polished Chrome Matrix grille.
Bentley Bentayga, side angled view effortlessly driving in sand, featuring 22 inch alloy wheels and fluted front grille.


Bentayga is the first Bentley SUV - also the world's first true luxury SUV. Launched in 2015, Bentayga was named after the Roque Bentayga, on the island of Gran Canaria, Spain, and was designed, engineered and crafted to offer unprecedented levels of refinement and performance. Bentayga was created after consultation with Bentley owners and meticulous research to ensure this new model included the luxurious features and dynamic drive experience one expects of a Bentley.