Bentley Motors Limited is a British luxury automaker, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the German company Volkswagen AG. Its principal activity is the design, engineering, manufacture, and distribution of luxury automobiles sold under the Bentley marque. Based in Crewe, England, Bentley Motors Limited was founded by W. O. Bentley on 18 January 1919 in Cricklewood near London and was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931.
Walter Owen, or WO as he came to be known, applied his mechanical aptitude to the improvement of aircraft engines while serving England in World War I. After the war, WO and his brother founded Bentley Motors Ltd. Between 1919 and 1931 the Bentley brothers built cars that are still counted among the classic machines of history. Among them, the 4.5-liter "Blower Bentley," which featured a supercharger protruding from the grille, is best known. However, the best performer was the 6.5-litre Speed Six of 1926. Like all Bentleys of the early years, its worth was measured in competition, and it didn't disappoint, winning Le Mans in 1929 and 1930.
- Founded : 18 January 1919
- Founder : H. M. Bentley, W. O. Bentley
- CEO: Wolfgang Dürheimer
- Headquarters : Crewe, England, United Kingdom
- Website : http://bentleymotors.com
The glory days of the Bentley ended with the depression, and the brand was sold to Rolls Royce in 1931. Unfortunately, Bentley became an early victim of what we now call "badge engineering," and for many years a Bentley was little more than a Rolls with a different name.
While the car was incomplete in some ways--its handling left much to be desired--it was a dramatically more exciting car than the Bentleys that Rolls had been marketing, and interest in the brand soared. Shortly thereafter, the company was sold to Vickers. The Turbo R of 1985 featured a much more advanced suspension system, and Bentley was on its way back to the pinnacle Salvation came in the form of failure as Rolls Royce Motors went into receivership in 1977. New management recognized the potential of the Bentley brand and developed the 1980 Mulsanne Turbo.
Today, the Bentley brand is owned by Volkswagen and is no longer associated with Rolls Royce. A win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2003--73 years after the marque's last Le Mans victory--has contributed significantly to the restoration of Bentley's performance reputation. More importantly, road-going Bentleys, like the 603-horsepower Continental GT Speed, have drawn universal accolades for both design and technology. The brand's historic personality--that tantalizing mix of scalding performance and impeccable manners--has been restored, and Bentleys are once again counted high on the list of the world's most desirable automobiles.