Bentley Motors Limited is a British company founded in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley. Acclaimed for the durability and performance, Bentley's cars participated in a series of pre-war races, managing to win five times at the 24 Hours of Le Mans (1924, 1927-1930).
In the 1930s, the famous Bentley Boys (wealthy British motoring enthusiasts) raced Le Train Bleu from Cannes to London. Some of the most interesting models from that period are the 4 1/2-litre Blower Bentley, the 6 1/2-litre Speed Six and the profitable 8-litre.
The latter was the reason behind Rolls-Royce's decision to buy the brand in 1931. Bentley came back on the market with the 3 1/2-litre in 1933, followed by a new 4 1/2-litre in 1936.
After the war, Bentley produced heavier and more luxurious cars. The Mark IV (1946), followed by the R Type(1952), the S Series (1955-1965) and T Series (1965-1980) were, in fact, Rolls-Royce cars with a Bentley touch. The same applied to the more modern Corniche and Camargue, or the following Continental (1984).
Under the new owners from Vickers, Bentley managed to regain some confidence and, even if the Mulsanne (1980), Turbo R (1985), Brooklands (1992) and Azure (1995) had a definite Bentley personality, they still shared a lot with their Rolls-Royce brothers. Not that this was a bad thing.
Volkswagen inherited the Crewe Rolls-Royce and Bentley factory when it acquired the company from Vickers in 1997, but subsequent negotiations saw BMW take over the Rolls-Royce brand, while Volkswagen kept the old headquarters and the Bentley brand.
In 2003, the first Bentley of the Volkswagen era was launched - the Bentley Continental GT, based not on a Rolls-Royce car, but on the VW Phaeton. It was so successful that the company broke the 10,000 cars per year record in 2007. In 2005, Bentley launched the Continental Flying Spur, the four-door saloon version of the GT. It was followed by convertible and coupé versions of the Continental and the Supersports „eco” supercar in 2009.
Sales took a hit in the financial crisis of 2008, sales falling more than 50%, but slowly recovered in the following years. However, in 2020 Bentley finally launched its first independently designed car in 80 years, the Mulsanne. One year later, it launched the second generation of the Continental GT, still based on the Phaeton platform.
The Bentayga, launched in 2016, saw Bentley venture in the SUV world. Bentayga is based on a shared platform with Audi Q7, VW Touareg, and Porsche Cayenne, but with 80% original Bentley parts. As the company reported sales in excess of 11,000 units in 2016, the future seems bright for the British luxury automaker.