Bentley was founded by Walter Owen Bentley, known to all as "W.O." He was a born engineer, but his first experience was not with motor cars - it was trains. In 1905, aged 16, he set off on his bicycle to work at the Great Northern Railway Locomotive Works in Doncaster, northern England.
Off duty, he soon abandoned the push-bike in favour of motor cycling and with his brother took to racing. In their first event, the London to Edinburgh Trial, they won a gold medal. W.O. raced at the Isle of Man TT event and Brooklands race track, near London.
The internal combustion engine made sweeter music to his ears than steam trains and in 1912 Bentley's family found funds enough to buy a small company importing French DFP sports cars.
It was on a visit to the DFP factory in 1913 that W.O. noticed an aluminium paperweight - and had the inspired idea of using the lightweight metal instead of cast iron to make engine pistons. The first such Bentley pistons went into service in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel, in service during the Great War.
After the war, Bentley revived his motor car interests and in London set about development of a racing engine - Experimental Bentley No 1. "I wanted to make a fast car, a good car: the best in its class..." And he did. In the '20s, with the 3-litre, 85bhp engine providing speeds of 80 mph and more, Bentley Motors set numerous speed and endurance records, competed successfully at Indianapolis, the Isle of Man, and Brooklands - and became inextricably linked with the history of the famous 24 hour race at Le Mans. In the hands of the legendary Bentley Boys, Bentleys achieved Le Mans victories in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, and 1930 - taking first four places in 1929.
Like many of the pioneers in the auto business world-wide, the Bentley's road to this year's podium at Le Mans has been a rough one. W.O. Bentley began his "automotive" career as a railroad engineering apprentice at the turn of the century and immediately got into racing via the motorcycle circuit, a common practice among young Brits before World War I.
Bentley gravitated through an aviation engineering stint during that war and at its end, became determined to form an auto manufacturing company of his own. Bentley Motors, Ltd. was formed in 1919 with very little capital on hand, a plight that was to plague the company for the next decade.
Prior to the Great War the Bentley brothers sold the DFP that they imported from France. Walter Owen Bentley extracted more power from the engines and successfully raced these cars.
The first Bentley was made in 1919 but not available until 1921. This 3 litre four-cylinder car was built in several versions (or "Labels", red label meant a short chassis, blue a long chassis and green a 100 mph special) up to 1927.
The 3-litre model was very successful in competition with victories at Le Mans in 1924 and 1927. In 1926 the Speed 6 was produced and again won at Le Mans in both 1927 and 1930.
Being a racer at heart, Bentley's first products were high- performance open cars that immediately established themselves as winners in the hectic world of European racing between the wars. Bentley cars won the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times from 1923 until the demise of the company in 1931.
Actually "demise" isn't the correct word. W.O. Bentley had realized early on that there was a limited market for "sporting" and race cars, and to succeed, his company would have to make bread-and-butter vehicles that would pay the bills. To this end, his London-based company built rolling chassis that were fitted with very fancy coachwork bodies for wealthy clients. The last of the line was powered by a huge 8.0-liter six-cylinder engine. Besides the inevitable open sports car bodies, it was also fitted up with limousine, touring car and coupe bodies. Bentley had become a major competitor for Rolls-Royce and other British luxury car builders.
But the big Bentley couldn't have come at a worse time. The Great Depression was on and the privately-funded Bentley Motors, Ltd. was broke. Although Bentley himself was preparing a deal to sell the company to another firm, the deal was skated out from under him by Rolls-Royce in 1931. Although it was reported to have stuck in Bentley's craw, he became an R-R employee for a while. This began the era of the so-called Rolls-Bentley, cars that were more "sporting" than their R-R stablemates but by no means the Le Mans winners of the previous decade.
In 1930 the famous 4.5-litre was introduced using a development of the 3 litre engine. Fifty cars were built with the supercharger to meet Le Mans requirements for all competing cars to be available for sale to the public.
By 1931 the company was in financial difficulties and was taken over by Rolls-Royce.
In 1933 the 3.5 litre was announced, being a sports version of the Rolls-Royce 20/25. In 1936 the Rolls-Royce 25/30 engine was fitted and known as the 4.25 litre.
Yet despite its racing record and public acclaim, Bentley Motors was beset by financial difficulty. By 1931 the golden age was over, but as closure loomed, Rolls-Royce stepped in to save the Bentley name - and a new era began.
In the decade before World War II, the Bentley line became, in effect, the hot-rod Rolls-Royce. The Bentley chassis of that era started off life in the late '20s as a smaller Rolls that was originally conceived as a car for the up-and-coming executive. Aborting this concept as The Depression deepened, the company installed a slightly hopped-up 3.5-liter R-R engine and had more "sporting" body work installed. In this guise , it was quite successful and it quickly acquired the quasi-official title of "The Silent Sports Car."
A few cars known as the Mark V were built prior to the Second World War. After the war the Mark VI was introduced and in 1951 was fitted with a 4.5 litre engine and some versions were designated the R-Type.
1955 saw the S-Type with an enlarged six-cylinder engine and a V8 from 1959 to 1965. This engine was used in the T-Series, which was the first Bentley with integral body and chassis.
World War II devastated the British industrial complex and Rolls-Royce suffered too. The post-war Bentley Mark VI became literally a Rolls-Royce Silver Dawn with a different grill. In 1952, the R-R hot-rod concept was resurrected in the form of the R-type and in particular, the R-type Continental, a high-speed coupe designed for touring in Europe. In the years that followed, this program was expanded upon and included a turbocharged V8 that provided top speeds in the neighborhood of 150 MPH and 7-second 0-to-60 MPH acceleration times. This from a full-sized luxurious Rolls-Royce spinoff.
The turbulent financial times of the '60s culminated with the company becoming part of the Vickers conglomerate which in turn recently sold the Rolls-Royce name to BMW and the Bentley name, factory and assets to Volkswagen. The resulting conflict between the two German giants has lead not only to massive law suits but corporate animosity between the two.
THE YEARS 2000
The Bentley Continental GT Luxury Coupe is produced since 2003 (6 liters / 560 hp)
The Bentley Continental GT marked the start into the period of complete independence. For some 70 years Rolls-Royce and Bentley had been produced side by side until the final separation of both marques under the wings of different parent companies from 2003 onward. The Bentley Continental GT was the fastest genuine 4-seat car in the world - a sporting coupé without rival. Obviously Bentley remembered key elements from the past and blended these with future demands as regards an ambitioned thoroughbred sports car. As a result the new Continental GT combined finest Grand Touring traditions with some of automotive world’s most advanced technologies.
The 6-litre twin turbocharged W12- engine’s power output was 552bhp/411KW. A significant fact was a maximum torque generated at just 1.600rpm. Never before a 12-cylinder engine had been employed on a Bentley motor car. The link between engine and wheels was provided by ZF-built six-speed automatic transmission. Via steering wheel paddles the driver can decide on Tiptronic actuation, i.e. choose between conventional automatic or clutchless manual gearchange. A six-speed automatic was a novelty on a Bentley, that could be said of 4-wheel drive and air springs used at each corner in place of conventional coils, too. Electronic traction control and electronic stability programme were fitted, of course. An ultra-sophisticated network of electronic control units processed information fed to them from sensors around the car and instructed engine, transmission, suspension and brakes to act in harmony.
Walter Owen Bentley
Walter Owen Bentley, began his career as a railway engineering apprentice, strangely, so did Henry Royce, but the parallel ends there, for while Royce came from a very poor background and had to cut short his apprenticeship because his aunt could no longer afford the £20 annual premium, Bentleys family were comfortably off. His father was a businessman and they lived in Avenue Road, St Johns Wood, in London.
His youthful enthusiasms were cricket and motorcycling (he raced a 5hp Rex at Brooklands in 1909) and in 1910 he bought his first car, a Riley V-twin two seater. He subsequently owned two Sizaire-Naudins, a single-cylinder model and then a four. He had a high regard for this make.
After his time as a railway apprentice, he was a general assistant at the National Motor Cab Company in Hammersmith, London, then in 1912 joined his brother H. M. Bentley in selling French DFP cars. They were not particularly fast, but Bentley soon improved their performance by using lighter pistons made from 12% copper and 88% aluminium. Thus equipped Bentley's DFP's won several races at Brooklands and, with a new Bentley designed camshaft, took class B records in 1913 and 1914. His time for a flying mile was 89.7 mph, a creditable figure for a two litre car. The Bentley brothers persuaded DFP to adopt aluminium pistons in a production car, which they sold as the 12/40, though not many were made as they were launched less than a year before the outbreak of the First World War.
During the war Bentley worked for theTechnical Board of the Royal Naval Air Service to improve the French Clerget rotary engine, where his experience with aluminium pistons was of great value.The modified Clerget designs bore his name, being called the BR1 and BR2 (Bentley Rotary).
After the war, Bentley returned to the partnership of Bentley and Bentley, however, his ambition was to see a car bearing his own name and in August 1919 he formed Bentley Motors Ltd, a successor to another company of the same name which was concerned with sales. Nominal share capital was £200,000, but cash in the bank was only £18,575. The company was under capitalised from the start, and a mortgage was taken out to finance the building of a factory at Cricklewood in North West London. The first prototypes were not made there, but at New Street Mews, off Baker Street. This property belonged to J.H.Easter, who did body trimming for the DFP's.
Bentley's right hand man was Frank Burgess,a former designer and works driver for Humber, who had been responsible for the twin overhead camshaft engine used in that company's 1914 Touring Trophy racing cars.
Burgess brought a TT Humber to Bentley Motors, and some chassis features were reflected in the new Bentley. The engine, however, had only a single camshaft, driven by a shaft from the front of the crankshaft. There were four valves per cylinder and the dimensions were 80 by 149 mm, a long stroke even for those days. At 2996 cc, capacity was just under 3 litres,and the car was christened the 3 litre model. This was the first time a British car had been described in litres, and this puzzled many motorists who were used to horsepower.However the RAC horsepower rating of 15.9 would have made the engine seem smaller than it was, for the rating system was calculated on the bore and took no account of Bentley's unusually long stroke. The rest of the car was conventional, with a four speed gearbox controlled by a right handgear lever, semi-elliptic leaf springs all round and brakes on the rearwheels only (until 1924). It was announced in The Autocar in May 1919, the description being accompanied by a drawing by the famous artist F. Gordon-Crosby, as no car existed in the metal. A chassis was shown at London's first postwar Motor Show, in October 1919, but it was a non-runner; among it's drawbacks was the rather serious one of having no crankshaft.The starting handle was pinned on to an empty crankcase and the flywheel supported by a stub shaft a few inches long. An engine was running at New Street by Christmas (causing an irate Matron of a nearby nursing home to complain at the noise). Deliveries were promised for June 1920, but development took longer and and the firstcar was not delivered until September 1921. It was a two door saloon and the customer paid £1150 for the chassis,(the original price quoted in 1919 was £750.
The cars soon lived up to the original announcement and those who went onto the two year waiting list, were more than satisfied. 21 were delivered in 1921, 122 in 1922, 204 in 1923, and 402 in 1924. The peak year was 1928 when 408 were delivered.
Success in Motor Racing ensured that everyone knew more about Bentley than any other sporting make, to add to this, well known figures such as, Prince George, Gertrude Lawrence and Beatrice Lilliewere among Bentley's customers.
Not having their own coachworks, Bentley recommended some virtually standard bodies, the open four seater tourers were mainly made by Vanden Plas, whose premises were close by, other coachbuilders were soon asked to work on the 3 Litre chassis, and a variety of styles were soon to be seen, from open two seaters to landaulettes.
Although Bentley saw his cars primarily as fast tourers, the demand for closed coachwork made him realise that more power was needed. At first he considered a six cylinder engine on the lines of the 3 litre, but a chance encounter with the prototype Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 in France convinced him that an even larger engine was required and the six cylinder car ended up with the dimensions of 100 by 140 mm, giving a capacity of 6597cc.
The chassis differed in a number of ways from the 3 litre; the cone clutch was replaced by a plate clutch, the differential was much heavier and four wheel brakes were used, the drums of which were finned as opposed to plain. The main difference in engine design was that the camshaft drive was by three - throw coupled rod rather than the vertical shaft of the smaller model.
In 1928 came the sporting version known as the Speed Six. The Speed Six was probably the most successful racing Bentley, with two consecutive wins at Le Mans, but it also carried formal coachwork.Two Speed Sixes were used as patrol cars by the Criminal Investigation Department of the Western Australia Police Force, probably the only Bentley Police cars in the world. Carrying Bolton saloon bodies, they served from 1930 to 1947; when they were withdrawn from service it was said; "There has hardly been a major crime committed in this State which has not been affected by one or other of the Bentley's.
Bentley firmly believed that there was no substitute for litres and far prefered to enlarge an engine than to supercharge a smaller one. The 8 litre engine was essentially that of the 6 1/2 with bore increased to 110 mm, giving a capacity of 7982 cc. Output was 200 or 225 bhp according to the compression ratio. Two wheelbases were available, the longer being 13 feet. Nevertheless, an 8 litre could exceed 100 mph unless fitted with too heavy a body. These were varied as on any other Bentley chassis; Saloons, limousines. coupes, at least one sedanca de ville, and a few open tourers.
The Bentley company was seriously undercapitalised from the start and would probably have collapsed without Woolf Barnato's intervention in 1925. This was effectively a takeover, for Barnato held 109,400 £1 preference shares and 114,000 one shilling ordinary shares. In contrast, W.O.Bentley held six thousand and three thousand shares respectively, though his brother H.M.Bentley and one or two others also had some stake in the company. In June 1931 the company's debts were such that it could no longer continue trading; Barnato's fortune had been eroded by the depression and he was no longer willing to support Bentley. A receiver was appointed, and it was expected that Napier would aquire Bentley, especially as W.O. had been having discussions with the company about a new twin overhead camshaft sports car. However, they were outbid to the tune of £20,481 by a mystery group called the British Equitable Trust Ltd. They were acting for an unknown company, and Bentley learnt only several days later (from cocktail party conversation overheard by his wife) that the company was Rolls-Royce.
The sporting image of the new Bentleys resulted in a dramatic improvement in sales. In 1986, when the group sold 2603 cars, the ratio between Rolls and Bentley was 60:40 and in 1991, with lower overall sales of 1731, the ratio was approximately 50:50. The three models, Eight, Mulsanne and Turbo R, made up the Bentley range in 1992, joined by a new and more individual coupe, the Continental R. The letter designation was chosen as an evocation of the R-type Continental of the 1950s and the new car is in the same spirit, a limited production, higher-performance car sold at a price considerably above that of the saloons.The four-seater coupe body was designed by Ken Greenley and John Heffernan and was derived from a show car of 1985 called the Project 90. The engine was slightly tweaked to give greater power and torque, output now being an estimated 333 bhp. Two years' production had already been sold before the examples were delivered, and some orders were placed only on sight of photographs. In September 1992 there arrived a new variant called the Brooklands. Priced at £91,489, it replaced the Eight and the Mulsanne S and featured a new bonnet and green badge harking back to the vintage GreenLabel Bentleys, new air dam and alloy wheels. Inside the electric column-mounted gearchange was moved to the floor.
1-2-3-4 em Le Mans
Reintrodução do nome Bentley Motors Ltd. como na fundação