When it comes to high-class luxury vehicles, Bentley is one of the most recognizable names in the industry. Having been around for nearly a century now, Bentley has been putting out some of the best vehicles imaginable for a very long time. But do you know how this legendary company got its start?
For having such modest beginnings, Bentley vehicles would go on to become the standard for luxury in the supercar industry. Today we’re going to take a look back at how Bentley began, and how its story evolved as the 20th century progressed.
Humble London Roots
W.O. Bentley first founded the company in 1919. Mr. Bentley had long dreamed of designing and selling his own cars and was experimenting with aluminum pistons for vehicles during World War I.
He brought this dream to life in August of 1919 when he registered his company as Bentley Motors Ltd. By October of that year, he unveiled an innovative engine design for his chassis that featured 4 valves per cylinder. The chassis was designed by Clive Gallop and was one of the first of its kind.
It took until September of 1921 for the first Bentley vehicles to hit the roads and once they did it was all uphill from there.
Hit the Ground Running
The first line of Bentley vehicles became pronounced for their durability and they were used to compete in hill climbs as well as race at Brooklands.
By 1922 the first Bentley was entered in the Indianapolis 500. Many people expected the vehicle not to finish very high on the list. The race was dominated by automobiles with mostly Duesenberg racing chassis at the time, but the Bentley driver managed to finish 13th.
After such a great showing at the Indy 500, the Bentley racing team hurried back to England so they could compete again in the 1922 RAC Tourist Trophy.
Despite its early success, Bentley was heavily underfunded until Captain Wolf Barnato began financing it in 1922. With this funding, W.O. Bentley was afforded the opportunity to continue designing new cars.
From 1926 to 1930, Bentley had its most iconic period, producing the world famous “Blower Bentley”, among other notable Bentley vehicles. This model would eventually go on to become the vehicle of choice for James Bond in the novels.
The Modern Era
Bentley hit a rough patch during The Great Depression and was purchased by Rolls-Royce in the 1930’s. They revived the company and pushed out many great cars up until 1970 when they were sold to Vickers. Vickers brought the company back to life and the Bentley cars were selling almost as good as Rolls Royce’s were by the mid 90’s.
In 1997 the company was sold once more to Volkswagen, who went on to heavily invest in the brand. From that moment until now, Volkswagen has produced many new Bentleys that are consistent high-performers in the supercar group.
The latest Bentley in production is the Continental GT (Gen 3), an auto which drew massive crowds at the Frankfurt motor show where it was unveiled in 2017.
The Bentley Brand Today
O’Gara La Jolla has been a leader in the industry, providing San Diego customers with Bentley automobiles and many other supercar brands they want to own.
Indeed Bentley vehicles have been part of our culture in a way that few other vehicles have. Throughout the years they have continuously lived up to W.O Bentley’s original intent. This was of course, “To build a fast car, a good car, the best in its class.”
Contact us to find out more about the many benefits of owning a Bentley.
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