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100 years of Bentley

100 years of Bentley Published: 5th Jul 2019 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

100 years of Bentley
100 years of Bentley
100 years of Bentley
100 years of Bentley
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Classic Motoring’s special celebration on 100 years of this Great British institution

One hundred years ago, W. O. Bentley produced his first car, a three litre model which was displayed at the London Motor Show. However, already the founder of the company bearing his name had also designed rotary engines for aircraft, and had imported D.F.P. cars. In addition to this he was a trailblazer in the world of aluminium pistons.

Under the bonnet of the 3-litre Bentley was an overhead camshaft, four-cylinder engine, with a fixed cylinder head. The car was highly competitive in motorsport, particularly in endurance runs, including the 1922 TT and the Le Mans events of 1924 and 1927. Different versions were designated by coloured enamel on their radiator badges.

The ‘Red Label’ depicted a short chassis machine, the ‘Blue Label’ indicated a long chassis model, and the ‘Green Label’ identified a special short chassis variant. Le Mans wins in 1929 and 1930 but by 1931, financial troubles saw Rolls-Royce take over. During the following years, most models from Bentley and Rolls were variations of the same base vehicle, differing mainly only in terms of the radiator grille and badging but Bentleys once again gained some of its past character that the Rolls-Royces lacked when the Mulsanne was launched back in 1980.
After a partnership of almost 70 years the brands separated with Bentley coming under the Volkswagen umbrella in 1998. Naturally for such a traditional British company that has become an institution,the thought of these brands going to Germans was initially met with indignation, if not outrage. Happily however, both are thriving and Bentleys have never been so popular.

In this special Classic Motoring feature, we’re looking at every popular post war Bentley, starting with the Mk VI and R-Type running right up to the recent Arnage with all you need to know to help you buy right, such as best models, prices and top tips. SO DON’T DREAM IT, DRIVE IT!

Rrec to the rescue

Naturally the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club caters for the equivalent Bentleys and it can assist owners no end and apart from the usual club benefits, also provides hands on help for those keen on DIY with technical support and seminars. The club has around 7000 members (700 newcomers joining last year alone) with UK members catered by 18 areas. The most popular models are Shadow (T Series) and Spirit (Mulsanne) incidentally and its annual rally at Burghley House in Stamford, Lincs 21-23 June

How to run a classic Bentley on a budget

It’s the dream of many to own what’s always regarded as the best car in the world – and it can become a reality with surprisingly moderate effort. Buying an old Bentley is not an issue as T Series and Mulsannes are hardly expensive purchases in today’s terms – the fear comes from running one.

Be under no illusion a Bentley is never going to prove as cheap as a Cortina to run yet the raft of independent specialists around means that you don’t need the expense account of a managing director to keep one in the manner its been accustomed to, either; if you’ve owned a Jag the step up is fairly moderate. Spares, new, pattern and second-hand are readily available and keenly priced from the likes of Flying Spares – who breaks old and modern models – and Intro-Car, the foremost international supplier of Bentley parts for every model from 1945 to the present day.

While a classic Bentley isn’t as easy as a Morris Minor, care and repair at home it’s surprisingly fairly DIY friendly for the competent home DIY owner, who will probably gain enormous satisfaction from working on something so well engineered and built. There’s also an army of independents charging quite reasonable labour rates.

Unless you’re talking of the modern Continental GT (which uses a special Volkswagen V12 engine) or the early Arnages (featuring BMW turbo power), the engines of the ‘Crewe cars’ are pretty low tech. Areas specialists warn about are the high pressure hydraulics and the electrics. The former can cost £2000 to service and many older, cheaper cars may still be running on its original pipework, fluids etc meaning you’ll be landed with big bills no doubt.

Numerous special tools are required but they can be hired out, from one of the number of owners’ clubs. Always join one! They’re a friendly, homely bunch welcoming Rolls-Royce and Bentley owners from all walks of life and are invaluable for help and advice. Their technical support is excellent and you’ll even find seminars and courses for owners keen on home maintenance. The best way to ensure sleep easy ownership is to buy the best you can with a solid service history.

Why not club together and join the Bentleys at Blenheim?

The Bentley Drivers Club was founded by enthusiasts for enthusiasts and is proud of its ethos: a club of friends who share a love of all things Bentley. It’s also the only club directly affiliated with Bentley Motors, and enjoys an affiliation with the RROC in the US. Founded in 1936 by Keston Pelmore it has almost 4000 members in the UK and overseas and cost from £165 for a single membership.

Benefits include Bi-monthly and monthly publications plus frequent e-newsletters along with social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube), access to comprehensive archives through the club’s association with the WO Bentley Memorial Foundation (providing a deep insight into the marque’s history), access to the spares schemes covering the three key eras of Bentley production, special favourable insurance rates and service plus undisputed valuations (for insurance purposes), regular tours and events, including annual Concours d’Elegance and long-established BDC Silverstone race meetings plus MIRA Sprint and track days and a Club forum offering the chance to discuss all things Bentley and more.

The Bentley Drivers Club wants to assemble the largest gathering of of models ever to mark the marque’s centenary on 8th September at Blenheim Palace. It’s just one of number of events being staged this year to celebrate the carmaker and ‘10001 Bentleys at Blenheim’ is the Concours d’Elegance where 18 trophies are up for grabs. Before then an Annual Race Day will take place on 3 August at Silverstone. For more information contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).



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