Bentley was founded not as a luxury coach maker, but as an excuse for Walter Owen Bentley to build race cars bearing his name. The first engine designed by the company was shown in 1920 and began deliveries in 1921. The automaker quickly earned a reputation for durability. In 1922, Bentley entered the Indianapolis 500 mile race in a modified road car, the Bentley Speed Six, finishing 13th competing in more endurance races including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, in which it finished fourth in 1923, won in 1924, and took multiple places including first in 1927-1930 with four consecutive first places in that span. The acquisition of Bentley by Rolls-Royce ended the racing program, but that racing had made a name for the brand that would endure through to today.
Currently, Bentley produces about 10,000 vehicles annually with sales generally meeting production. About a third of those vehicles are sold throughout the Americas, about 2,000 are sold in China, and the rest are split nearly evently between the Europe, the United Kingdom, and the Middle East. The Continental GT accounts for about 6,000 of the company's total production units and the bulk of the company's sales.