The History of Bentley – 1910-1929


In 1912, W. O. Bentley and H. M. Bentley began in the car business as sales concession for three cars, these three cars were the Buchet, La Licorne and the Doriot, Flandrin and Parant known in short as D.F.P. The D. F. P. was built to be a racing machine, and W. O. Bentley designed all new aluminum alloy pistons for it. Because of his success, Rolls-Royce and Sunbeam also adopted the pistons. These pistons also began use in aircraft engines.

Bentley Motors, Limited was created in 1919  and saw its last days under its original conception in 1931. This original company, though short lived, had a very colorful, fast paced time in history. With racing successes and financial failures, this company had its ups and downs. This original company was owned by two brothers, W. O. and H. M. Bentley. W. O. Bentley was the mastermind behind the engineering and was a very accomplished race car driver. He was also the face of the company, while his brother stayed in the back ground and handled the business management side of things.

After World War I, Bentley wanted to make a car that was to completely satisfy all of his desires of a car. This car would need to be stately on the road but savage on the track, a totally stock car that could race on a track. These new cars not only raced, they won races, this put them in demand and sales followed. The cars were often completed just in time for their delivery. Soon people were pushing for a Le Mans victory. In 1923, a 3 liter Bentley competed in the La Mans, it finished in fourth place but it also recorded the fastest lap time for that race.

Though in 1924 Bentley came home with a hard earned trophy, they still were having financial difficulties. Bentleys were expensive vehicles and people were hesitant to drive them for this reason. People believed that since the car was so fast, it also would be hard to control. In 1926, the company got a reprieve when millionaire Woolf Barnato purchased controlling stock in the company and became the managing director. In 1927, Bentley took the dubious honor of the strangest accident in that tracks history as all of the competing Bentleys ended up in an accident with one another. One of the Bentleys, though beaten and tattered, went back out on the race track and sped through the night at speeds over 90 miles per hour.

In the dawning of the new day, the big, tough green car, tattered though it was, drove to final victory. In honor of this valiant car, it was parked in it’s battered state in the elegant dining room of the Savoy in London and was the guest of honor at the celebration dinner. After an illustrious career on the track, Bentley retired from racing in order to produce elegant passenger cars of exceptional detail and an enormous engine. Even with this, in 1931, Bentley Motors LTD faded into history as its assets were bought up by Rolls-Royce who then began producing Bentleys. As time went on, the Bentley became less and less of an individual and more and more a copy of the Rolls Royce of the time. Today, the Bentley differs from the Rolls Royce only in it’s own radiator grill.