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Celebrating 100 Years: An Inside Look at the History of Bentley Motors

Published on March 21, 2019 by in Blog

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The world may have changed in the past century, but one of the most famous names in high-end automotive manufacturing continues the same legacy it has had since the first day it began. For many, Bentley is a name synonymous with luxury, and its cars have a long and established history both on the road and the race track.
Almost as soon as it began, Bentley was racing ahead, a formidable blend of style and speed, but that doesn’t mean its history was all smooth sailing. As Bentley approaches its hundred-year anniversary, we decided to take a look under the hood at its evolution.

If you’re interested in becoming an auto mechanic, read on to find out some things you may not have known about this world-famous car maker.

W.O. Bentley and the Creation of the Modern Car

Like many classic cars, Bentley Motors grew out of a love of racing. Founder W.O. Bentley took his passion for tinkering and refining engines into what was then a new industry: automobile manufacturing.

One day, Bentley spotted a paperweight made of aluminum, and believed the lightweight material would make a better piston than heavy cast iron or steel. Although his idea worked, and led many of his cars to racing victory, the outbreak of World War I meant Bentley would not return to his project for another five years.

Bentley’s distinctive hood ornament has graced its cars for a long time

Bentley’s distinctive hood ornament has graced its cars for a long time

After the war, Bentley returned to his beloved cars, and on 10 July 1919, Bentley Motors was established. The first Bentley model was to be a racing car first and a touring car second, and in 1926 Bentley launched his first engine, the 3-Litre, a durable monobloc which would take his cars to stardom.

Auto Mechanics Might Be Interested in the Racing Days of the Bentley Boys

One of Bentley’s early patrons, John Duff, decided to enter his 3-Litre in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race. Although Bentley was a fan of motorsports, he didn’t believe cars were capable of handling long races, but Duff finished fourth, and later won the Le Mans the following year.

This was the beginning of the Bentley Boys, a handful of racing enthusiasts who went on to dominate the Le Mans with five wins over eight years. Their driving prowess was due in part to the design of their cars. Bentley incorporated aluminum and magnesium into his engines, making them lighter and giving them greater speed potential. Driver Sir Tim Birkin, with the help of the Bentley Girls, added a supercharged ‘blower’ to his 4.5-litre straight-six engine, which helped him reach nearly 175 horsepower. While this may not seem very impressive to students in auto mechanic school today, the typical car of the time only had about 50 hp.

Bentley Today and Tomorrow: What You May See in Your Auto Mechanic Career

During the Great Depression, Bentley Motors went into receivership, and was purchased by Rolls Royce in 1931. Apart from the radiator grille and minor details, the cars would become nearly identical until 1998, when Bentley was purchased by Volkswagen, which wanted to give the car a more contemporary look and feel.

Shortly afterwards, the 2001 Le Mans race saw the first Bentley in competition in nearly 70 years, with a 670 hp, twin-turbo V8 engine leading the EXP Speed 8 to third place.

The early 2000s also saw plenty of other good news for the car maker. The 2003 Continental GT boosted sales nearly ten-fold, and became a smash hit that is still in production today. The new millennium also saw the addition of the Bentayga—Bentley’s best-selling model—along with its V8 version. If you’re lucky, you might even have the chance to up close and personal with one of them during your auto mechanic career!

Are you interested in racing ahead with a new and rewarding automotive career?

Contact CATI for more information about our auto mechanic course!

 
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