Bentley Motors Formed
The early days of motor manufacturing were populated by enthusiasts and engineers: W.O. Bentley was both. He raced cars at Brooklands , customising French vehicles to improve performance. And his hands-on engineering pedigree was excellent, apprenticeship in the railway industry followed by innovative work in the aviation field, designing the BR-1 aero engine for the Sopwith Camel, among other planes, reducing cost and weight by incorporating aluminium as he had with his racing cars.
With WWI over Bentley was free to follow his dream of manufacturing cars; and not just any cars, his stated aim from the outset was: “To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class.” The prototypes, 3 litre models, were made in 1919 in a workshop off London’s Baker Street, in New Street Mews, with production soon afterwards in Cricklewood . The depression and consequent financial problems – though these were not new for the company – saw it sold to an anonymous holding company that proved a front for Rolls Royce , eager to control a top-table rival. After WWII production shifted to the current site in Crewe .
There is a certain irony in Bentley, begun by the man whose aero engine was a significant factor in Germany’s defeat in WWI, being owned since 1998 by the archetypal German car company Volkswagen.
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