Only a few brands occupy the top-tier of luxury manufacturers. Bentley is one of them. Founder W.O. Bentley set out to build not just a fast car or a good car, but the best in its class. The first car bearing Bentley’s name made its debut in 1919. Today, Bentley continues in its position as one of the top automotive brands in the world.
The first Bentleys available to the public arrived in September 1921. Immediately, they received recognition for their excellent build and speed. That reputation extended to the racetrack where Bentley entered the 1922 Indianapolis 500 with a special vehicle built on a Duesenberg racing chassis.
The company enjoyed success in racing by winning five 24 Hours of Le Mans races, which included four consecutive races from 1927 to 1930. The Bentley models of that era utilized increasingly larger and more sophisticated engines, with those ranging from 3 to 8 liters.
The Great Depression tested the automotive industry as demand for the most expensive cars fell sharply. By 1931, Bentley was in dire straits and facing liquidation. Rolls-Royce purchased Bentley’s assets and turned the acquired company into a subsidiary.
Bentley continued with its racing program. The first models shared a Rolls-Royce chassis and had modified Rolls-Royce engines. The Bentley 3½ Litre (later 4¼ Litre) was a full-size, four-door model produced from 1933 to 1939. The Mark V followed, which was a bare chassis with the body supplied from a coachbuilder. Released in 1939, production was cut short by the advent of World War II.
After the war, Bentley and Rolls-Royce automotive production resumed. The Mark VI was built from 1946 to 1952, and it was the first Bentley model with an all-steel body. This full-size luxury car was offered in three body styles: four-door sedan, two-door sedan and convertible. The R Type followed (1953-1955), which was actually a modified Mark VI with a larger trunk.
Beginning in 1955 and continuing through 1965, Bentley built a series of “S” models. For instance, the V8-powered S3 was the brand’s version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud III.
In 1965, Bentley introduced the T1, which was a sedan offered in standard and extended wheelbase versions. Bentley also offered a two-door sedan and convertible, which came from coachbuilders.
Beginning in 1980 and extending through 1992, Bentley offered the Mulsanne. A turbo variant of this four-door sedan was built from 1982 to 1985. The Turbo R and RT followed, which was essentially performance versions of the Mulsanne.
Modern Bentley models include the Brooklands (1992 to 1998) and the Arnage (1998 to 2009). During that transition year when the models went from Brooklands to Arnage, the Volkswagen Group acquired both Bentley and Rolls-Royce. In 2004, VW sold Rolls-Royce to BMW.
Other Bentley models include the four-seat Azure, which was produced from 1995 to 2009 and various Continental models that were built beginning in 2003. The Continental includes fastback, coupe and sedan body styles. It also includes such sub-models as the Flying Spur, GTC and Supersports.
Bentley’s model line has expanded in recent years. The Mulsanne name returned in 2010 and once again represents a full-size four-door sedan. In 2016, the Bentley Bentayga rolled out, which is the company’s first SUV. In 2018, Bentley introduced the third-generation GT, which is a performance model.
Bentley Body Styles For Sale
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