Bentley: History & Cars


When Walter Owen Bentley produced his first motorcars in 1919, the Bentley legend began. By the mid-1920s the company had established an enviable reputation for producing sports tourers which were not only fast but incredibly attractive and imposing to look at. A series of wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans looked set to safeguard the future of Bentley, but then the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression both had significant impact on sales. This resulted in the company being forced into liquidation in July 1931.

The company was quickly rescued from collapse by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and production moved to the Rolls-Royce headquarters at Derby. Rolls-Royce introduced a new range of touring models based on its own 20/25 chassis and these cars were heralded as the 'Silent Sports Cars'.

Following the end of World War Two, Bentley found itself supporting Rolls-Royce with sales of the new Mk VI thanks to its less ostentatious image. By the mid-1950s Bentley was becoming little more than a badge-engineered sister to the Rolls-Royce models and demand began to drop. The 1980s witnessed a Bentley revival, mainly due to the powerful Turbo models.

Volkswagen purchased Bentley in 1998 and spent some £500 million modernising the Crewe headquarters as well as employing an extra 2,000 employees within the factory.

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