Bentley, the house of powerful handcrafted luxury cars, reflects 95 years of heritage through its solid designs and unparalleled developments. Bentley can be dated back to 1919 when W. O. Bentley and his brother H. M. Bentley founded the company Bentley Motors Limited. W.O. Bentley had dreamt about building his own cars after the brothers after the brothers opened an UK agency in 1912 for the French DFP (Doriot, Flandrin & Parant) cars. He then founded the world’s most desirable luxury car brand to fulfill not only his own, but of people’s dreams all over the world.
Bentley cars became a major hit after Bentley 3 Litre Sport won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans of 1924. This grabbed the attention of wealthy British motorists. In 1925, the company hit an impasse when they were faced with a financial crisis. Woolf Barnato, a fan of Bentley cars, helped the company with financing at that time. But this gave him control over the company while making W.O. an employee. New models were introduced under Barnato’s chairmanship which repeated the success of the Bentley 3 Litre Sport and consistently won Le Mans each year from 1927 to 1930. But nothing could stop the Stock Market Crash of 1929 from hitting it in 1929 which was then followed by the Great Depression. These incidents dramatically decreased the demand for luxury cars like Bentley.
In 1931, the company was taken over by Rolls-Royce after they won a bid against Napier and Sons. The real face of the new Bentley owner, however, became clear only after the deal was closed. The new owner Rolls-Royce formed a new company of its own while Bentley’s production was moved to Rolls-Royce’s production facilities in Derby. The Bentley factory in Cricklewood was closed soon after. W. O. Bentley still kept designing Bentleys until he left the company in in 1935. He was the designer at the time of Rolls Royce’s takeover. Soon after he joined Lagonda, another car manufacturing company, where he helped create an edition of cars that were aptly called “Bentleys in all but name”.
At the end of the 20th century, Bentley’s, including its parent company, changed owners twice. Rolls-Royce faced a financial breakdown as a result of its development of the RB211 jet engine. Soon after, the company was nationalized by the British government. Which means, Bentley was faced with the same fate as Rolls-Royce. But what happened is that Rolls Royce car division was transformed into an independent business. The Rolls-Royce Motors Limited was acquired by Vickers plc in 1980 as a result. But on the other hand, Bentley sales had dropped at an alarming rate. Although, under Vickers, Bentley got the chance to restore its former status as a luxury sports car and its sales gradually started to rise.
The Bentley renaissance, however, only started in 1998 after Rolls-Royce Motors Limited was acquired by the Volkswagen Group. Currently, Bentley is one of the most sought after brand of luxury cars, competed by many, but seconded by none.