W O Bentley

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Owen Bentley, began his as a railway engineering apprentice, so did Henry Royce, but the parallel there, for while Royce from a very poor and had to cut short his apprenticeship because his could no longer afford the annual premium, Bentleys were comfortably off. His was a businessman and they lived in Road, St Johns Wood, in

His youthful enthusiasms were and motorcycling (he raced a 5hp Rex at Brooklands in and in 1910 he bought his first a Riley V-twin two seater. He owned two Sizaire-Naudins, a single-cylinder and then a four. He had a high for this make. After his as a railway apprentice, he was a general at the National Motor Cab Company in London, then in 1912 his brother H. M. Bentley in selling DFP cars. They were not fast, but Bentley soon their performance by using pistons made from 12% and 88% aluminium.

Thus equipped DFP’s won several races at and, with a new Bentley camshaft, took class B in 1913 and 1914. His time for a mile was 89.7 mph, a figure for a two litre car. The brothers persuaded DFP to adopt pistons in a production car, they sold as the 12/40, not many were made as were launched less a year before the outbreak of the World War.

During the war worked for the Technical Board of the Naval Air Service to improve the Clerget rotary engine, his experience with aluminium was of great value.The modified designs bore his name, called the BR1 and BR2 (Bentley Rotary). the war, Bentley returned to the of Bentley and Bentley, however, his was to see a car bearing his own name and in August he formed Bentley Motors a successor to another company of the name which was concerned sales. Nominal share was £200,000, but cash in the bank was £18,575. The company was under from the start, and a mortgage was out to finance the building of a factory at in North West London.

The prototypes were not made but at New Street Mews, off Baker This property belonged to who did body trimming for the DFP’s. right hand man was Frank a former designer and works for Humber, who had been responsible for the overhead camshaft engine in that company’s 1914 Trophy racing cars.

Burgess brought a TT Humber to Motors, and some chassis were reflected in the new Bentley. The however, had only a single driven by a shaft from the of the crankshaft. There were valves per cylinder and the dimensions 80 by 149 mm, a long stroke even for days. At 2996 cc, capacity was under 3 litres,and the car was christened the 3 model.

This was the first a British car had been described in and this puzzled many who were used to horsepower.However the RAC rating of 15.9 would made the engine seem than it was, for the rating was calculated on the bore and took no of Bentley’s unusually long The rest of the car was conventional, with a speed gearbox controlled by a handgear lever, semi-elliptic springs all round and brakes on the only (until 1924). It was in The Autocar in May 1919, the description accompanied by a drawing by the famous F. Gordon-Crosby, as no car existed in the metal. A was shown at London’s first Motor Show, in October but it was a non-runner; among it’s was the rather serious one of having no starting handle was pinned on to an crankcase and the flywheel supported by a shaft a few inches long. An was running at New Street by Christmas an irate Matron of a nearby home to complain at the noise).

were promised for June but development took longer and and the was not delivered until September It was a two door saloon and the customer £1150 for the chassis,(the original quoted in 1919 was £750.

The soon lived up to the original and those who went onto the two waiting list, were than satisfied. 21 were in 1921, 122 in 1922, 204 in 1923, and 402 in The peak year was 1928 408 were delivered.

Success in Racing ensured that knew more about than any other sporting to add to this, well known such as, Prince George, Lawrence and Beatrice Lilliewere Bentley’s customers.

Not having their own coachworks, recommended some virtually bodies, the open four tourers were mainly by Vanden Plas, whose were close by, other were soon asked to on the 3 Litre chassis, and a variety of were soon to be seen, open two seaters to landaulettes.

Bentley saw his cars primarily as tourers, the demand for closed made him realise that power was needed. At first he a six cylinder engine on the lines of the 3 but a chance encounter with the Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 in France him that an even larger was required and the six cylinder car ended up the dimensions of 100 by 140 mm, giving a capacity of

The chassis differed in a number of from the 3 litre; the cone was replaced by a plate clutch, the was much heavier and four brakes were used, the of which were finned as to plain. The main difference in design was that the camshaft was by three — throw rod rather than the vertical of the smaller model.

In 1928 the sporting version known as the Six.

The Speed Six was probably the successful racing Bentley, two consecutive wins at Le Mans, but it carried formal coachwork.Two Sixes were used as cars by the Criminal Investigation of the Western Australia Police probably the only Bentley cars in the world. Carrying saloon bodies, they from 1930 to 1947; they were withdrawn service it was said; There has been a major crime in this State which has not affected by one or other of the Bentley’s.

firmly believed that was no substitute for litres and far prefered to an engine than to supercharge a one. The 8 litre engine was that of the 6 1/2 with bore to 110 mm, giving a capacity of 7982 cc. was 200 or 225 bhp according to the compression ratio. Two were available, the longer 13 feet.

Nevertheless, an 8 litre exceed 100 mph unless fitted too heavy a body. These varied as on any other Bentley Saloons, limousines. coupes, at one sedanca de ville, and a few open

The 8 litre could not have at a worse time, being in 1930,when the depression was hitting hard at expensive cars, and Motors Ltd was only eight away from receivership. 67 of the 100 eight litre chassis sold by the company while it was independent, the remaining 33 being under direction of the receiver.

The company was seriously undercapitalised the start and would probably collapsed without Woolf intervention in 1925. This was a takeover, for Barnato held £1 preference shares and one shilling ordinary shares. In W.O.Bentley held six thousand and thousand shares respectively, his brother H.M.Bentley and one or two others had some stake in the company.

In 1931 the company’s debts such that it could no continue trading; Barnato’s had been eroded by the depression and he was no willing to support Bentley. A was appointed, and it was expected that would aquire Bentley, as W.O. had been having with the company about a new overhead camshaft sports However, they were to the tune of £20,481 by a mystery called the British Equitable Ltd.

They were for an unknown company, and Bentley only several days (from cocktail party overheard by his wife) that the was Rolls-Royce.

A new firm was formed, (1931) Ltd. which was a owned subsidiary of Rolls-Royce.W.O. was as an employee, but he had little say in the design of the new car bore his name.Increasingly unhappy, he when his contract came up for in 1935, joining Lagonda,for he designed the LG6 and V12. He was also for the 2 1/2 litre twin-overhead-camshaft six which the postwar Lagonda and went the Aston Martin DB2. He in 1971, by which time he was a figure to the Bentley Drivers’Club, many gatherings of the vintage at his home in Surrey.

In the summer of the new Bentley was announced. Known as the 3 1/2 it had a modified Rolls-Royce 20/25 in a new chassis which had been for a 2 1/2 litre Rolls-Royce that went into production. In the tradition, only chassis supplied,but the makers recommended a of styles which were in small runs by the coachbuilders.

This cut costs consderably and the waiting time for delivery.

the Second World WarBentleys increasingly similar to Rolls-Royce witha change to a more identity only coming in the The parent company had moved Derby to a factory at Crewe had been built in 1938 for construction, and this factory incorporated a body plant. four-door saloon bodies by Pressed Steel at Cowley,Oxford, finished.

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Originally only were fitted with bodies, but from 1949 also became available on the Silver Dawn. The decision to a standard body was partly due to the cost of custom coachwork, but because the cars were at export markets more previously, and the traditional ash frame aluminium panels was not suitable for climates.

Announced in the spring of the postwar Bentley was called the VI and shared with the Rolls-Royce Wraith a new six-cylinder engine dimensions were the same as the V Wraith, but it had a new valve outlet,overhead and side exhaust valves. The was part of a range called B made in four, six and eight versions. The last was used in the Phantom IV and in an experimental Bentley the Scalded Cat. The six used in the VI differed somewhat from in the Silver Wraith, having SU carburetters in place of a single and a higher-lift camshaft. About 80 per of the 5201 Mark VI chassis between 1946 and 1952 had Steel bodies, but there also numerous custom made.

In the ten years after the World War British coachbuilders virtually extinct, but before disappeared they built magnificent examples on both and Rolls-Royce. At least fourteen in Britain worked on the MarkVI, as as some continental coachbuilders. The was much the same but had a larger boot and automatic transmission was

In April 1955 the R-type way to the S-type, whose Rolls-Royce was called the Silver Cloud. capacity went up to 4887 cc and was a new body from Pressed longer and wider, with flowing into the doors. was now no difference between Bentley and versions except for the latters’ radiator, for which customers an additional £130.

Twinned headlamps came on the S3 of and special models were available such as the Continental or convertible by H.J. Mulliner and Ward, who merged in 1961, or the Spur four door by Mulliner. After the introduction of the S3 was no longer any difference in engine between the Continental and other

The last Continental chassis was to the coachbuilder on 20th November and was not received by the customer until 1966, four months the model had been officially by the T series.

In October 1965 all and Rolls-Royces gave way to a new four-door with integral consruction and levelling independent suspension. as the Bentley T-type or Rolls-Royce Shadow, it had been under for nearly

ten years, the first running in 1957. Its design changing tastes, for customers a car with a lower profile, figuratively and literally: one that nothing in quality to its predecessors yet was obviously a display of the owners’ At least that was the reasoning, but it be open to doubt because the T was outsold by ten to one by the Silver Shadow. the ostentatious car if only because of its radiator. The T series years very lean ones for the marque.

In the early post war the Mark VI out sold the Rolls-Royce by to one, but in the 1970s fewer 10 per cent of the cars carried badges, and in 1980 the figure to 4 per cent. It seemed hardly to perpetuate the name, but company and a new model led to a remarkable revival.

The was born named after straight at Le Mans. harking to the days of the Bentley Boys, the Rolls-Royce was the Silver Spirit. The new were styled by the Austrian-born Feller and had a heavier look that of the T Series, giving the of more car for the money.

In the spring of came a high-performance model was to begin the process of distancing from Rolls-Royce.This was the Mulsanne which used a Garrett turbo-charger to give a boost in of about 50 per cent, from 200 bhp. Top speed was limited to 135 mph km/h) by a sensor which turbo boost but acceleration 0 to 60 mph took only 7.5seconds, no feat for a car which weighed pounds (2245kg). TheTurbo’s was similar to that of the Mulsanne, but it be easily identified by the radiator which was painted in the same as the rest of the body, instead of makers were adamant the Turbo would never a Rolls-Royce radiator, and it has been that if it did it would need an 35 bhp to achieve the same performance, of the drag imposed by the square shell. The sporting image of the new resulted in a dramatic improvement in

In 1986, when the group 2603 cars, the ratio Rolls and Bentley was 60:40 and in with lower overall of 1731, the ratio was approximately The three models, Eight, and Turbo R, made up the Bentley in 1992, joined by a new and more coupe, the Continental R. The letter was chosen as an evocation of the R-type of the 1950s and the new car is in the same spirit, a production, higher-performance car sold at a considerably above that of the The four-seater coupe body was by Ken Greenley and John Heffernan and was from a show car of 1985 the Project 90. The engine was slightly to give greater power and output now being an estimated 333

Two years’ production had already sold before the examples delivered, and some orders placed only on sight of In September 1992 there a new variant called the Brooklands. at £91,489, it replaced the Eight and the S and featured a new bonnet and green harking back to the vintage Bentleys, new air dam and alloy wheels.

the electric column-mounted gearchange was to the floor.

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