Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

Registered UK Charity (No. 115342)

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 163,367 pages of information and 245,906 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.


From Graces Guide
June 1923.
1925. Big Bentley.
April 1928.
Reg No: LLD 703.
1930. 4.5 Litre. Exhibit at the National Motor Museum.
September 1930.
1934. Body by Vanden Plas.
1934. 3.5-Litre. Body by Gurney Nutting. Exhibit at Glasgow Museum of Transport.
May 1935.
1935. Derby Bentley 3.5 Litre with Hooper sports body. Reg No: AOX 888.
October 1936.
1936. 4.25-litre.
1936. 4.25-litre. Exhibit at Lakeland Motor Museum.
October 1936.
October 1936.
September 1937.
December 1937.
December 1937.
January 1939.
April 1940.
August 1941.
February 1944.
June 1944.
1947. Bentley VI. Reg No: DCX 423.
1948. Bentley Special Reg No: JAH 94.
1948. Bentley Special Reg No: JAH 94.
Oct 1949.
1949.Two Door Sports Saloon by James Young and Four Door Sports Saloon by H. J. Mulliner.
Reg No: LXC 708.
1951. Bentley Mk VI. Exhibit at Glasgow Museum of Transport.
June 1953.
1959. Bentley Continental with body by Hooper and Co. Reg No: GVR 415.
Reg No: LLP 188.
1970. Bentley Model T.
Reg No: EVG 519.
Reg No: MUD 16.
Reg No: MUD 16.
Bentley Turbo. Reg No: F49 NVJ.
1994. Bentley Turbo R. Reg No: M189 CCR.
2005. Bentley V8 engine. 6.75 litres and 450 bhp. Exhibit at the Museum of Power.
Reg No: 4654 PE.

Bentley Motors Limited of Pym's Lane, Crewe, manufacturer of luxury automobiles and Grand Tourers.


1919 Bentley Motors was founded in England on January 18, 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley, known as W. O. Bentley or just "W.O." (1888–1971). He was previously known for his successful range of Bentley rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel.

A group of wealthy British automobile aficionados known as the "Bentley Boys" (Woolf Barnato, heir to diamond mining magnate Barney Barnato, Sir Henry Birkin, George Duller, steeplechaser, Glen Kidston, aviator, S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis, automotive journalist, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield amongst them) kept the car's reputation for high performance alive. At one point, on a bet, Barnato raced Le Train Bleu from Cannes to Calais, then by ferry to Dover and finally London, travelling on public highways with normal traffic, and won; the special-bodied 6.5 L car became known as the Blue Train Bentley.

Due to the dedication of this group to serious racing, the company, located at Cricklewood, North London, was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927 to 1930. Their greatest competitor at the time, Bugatti, whose lightweight, elegant, but fragile creations contrasted with the Bentley's rugged reliability and durability, referred to them as "the world's fastest lorries".

Perhaps the most iconic Bentley of the period was the 4.5 l "Blower Bentley", with its distinctive supercharger projecting forward from the bottom of the grille. Uncharacteristically fragile for a Bentley, however, it was not the racing workhorse that the 6 L Bentley was.

1925 A great deal of Barnato's fortune went to keeping Bentley afloat after he had become chairman in 1925; but the Great Depression destroyed demand for the company's expensive products.

1931 Became Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd, a private company, when it was sold to Rolls-Royce through the British Equitable Central Trust [1]. Bentley was a competitor to Rolls-Royce and the 8 Litre Bentley was probably a better machine than anything Rolls-Royce at that time had to offer.

Rolls-Royce Ltd moved production to Derby. The first product of the new arrangement, the 3.5 litre was known as "The Silent Sports Car"; "W.O." referred to it as "the best car ever to bear my name".

1946 The move to Crewe meant access to the community of highly skilled engineers and mechanics who had migrated to this busy industrial hub during the war. New ideas and new technologies were introduced into the post-war Bentleys. The Bentley Mark VI, with a modified 4.25 litre engine and a shortened version of the Rolls-Royce Silver Wraith chassis, became the first motor car to be built entirely at Bentley’s Crewe works – and the first to be offered with a pressed steel body-shell as standard. Coach-built cars were still available, but the stately Mark VI – one of the best sellers in Bentley history - signalled a sea-change in vehicle production.

1951 Exhibitor at the 1951 Motor Show in the Car Section.

By 1955 as a result of rationalisation of new Bentley and Rolls-Royce models, the 2 marques were sharing identical technology, with the Bentley S Series differing from the Silver Cloud only in external styling.

1961 Listed as a subsidiary of Rolls-Royce [2]

1961 Manufacturers of "Bentley" motor car

1963 Motor Show exhibitor. S3 range. Listed as Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd [3]

1971 After the failure of Rolls-Royce, the receiver created a new company, Rolls-Royce Motors, to contain the profitable parts of the company including the car manufacturing division, the marine and industrial diesel engines, military vehicle operations and rights to the Wankel engine. The new company included the coach building businesses of H. J. Mulliner, Park Ward and Bentley Motors (1931)[4].

1973 Having failed to attract sufficiently high offers in the sale by tender, the automobile business was spun off as a public company, Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd[5].

1980 Vickers bought Rolls-Royce Motors to form one of the largest engineering companies in the country[6].

1998 Volkswagen acquired Rolls-Royce Motor Cars from Vickers[7]. The losing bidder, BMW, acquired the rights to the Rolls-Royce name and the marque for use on Rolls-Royce cars for £40 million[8] from Rolls-Royce. A deal was struck by VW that BMW would make Rolls Royce cars from 2003. Bentley cars would continue to be made, under VW ownership, at Crewe[9]

Since 1998 the company has been owned by the Volkswagen Group.

List of Models made in Cricklewood

List of Models made in Derby

List of Models made in Crewe

  • Bentley: R-Type 1952-55 - (2,528 produced ) - Saloon and Continental models
  • Bentley: S1 1955-59 - (3,503 produced) - Saloon and Continental models
  • Bentley: S2 1959-62 - (2,308 produced) - Saloon and Continental models
  • Bentley: S3 1962-65 - (1,629 produced) - Saloon including LWB and Continental modles

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Saturday, Nov 21, 1931
  2. 1961 Guide to Key British Enterprises: Motor, Motor-Cycle and Commercial Vehicle Manufacturers
  3. 1963 Motor Show
  4. The Times, Mar 23, 1971
  5. The Times, May 04, 1973
  6. The Times, Jun 26, 1980
  7. The Times, July 04, 1998
  8. The Times, October 26, 1999
  9. The Times, October 21, 1998