Bentley is a high-performance, high-luxury car maker from the U.K. Every model is hand-built using nothing but top-notch materials.
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Walter Owen Bentley, an engineer known for his range of aero engines for British fighter aircraft during World War I, most notably the Sopwith Camel, founded the company that bears his name in 1919.
In the following decade, a 3.0-litre engine allowing top speeds of 128 km/h made Bentley famous across the racing scene. Over the years, it became closely linked to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Wealthy businessman and race car driver Woolf Barnato acquired the company in 1925 and invested a lot of his money into the new venture. However, the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the ensuing 12-year Great Depression put Bentley in a precarious financial position.
While death seemed a foregone conclusion, Rolls-Royce rescued the brand in 1931.
In the aftermath of World War II, which temporarily halted car production, Bentley struck back with the Mark VI in 1946. The model bowed out in 1952 after selling nearly 5,200 units. It remains Bentley's most popular car to this day.
The Mark VI actually evolved to become the R Type, which in turn gave birth to the R Type Continental – the world's fastest four-passenger automobile with a peak of 193 km/h.
In 1955, the S1 hit the market and became the last Bentley to use a six-cylinder engine. It kept improving and soldiered on for 11 years.
During the sixties, the T series made its debut, followed by two-door and Continental droptop variants. The T2 appeared in 1977.
Bentley merged with Vickers in 1980, the same year the 6.75-litre, V8-powered Mulsanne was announced. Demand was high at first, but the global recession considerably affected sales. The Mulsanne Turbo, faster than some Ferraris from 0 to 100 km/h, saw daylight in 1982 before giving way to the Turbo R, one of the company's best-selling models over the following nine years. Booking the '80s was the Mulsanne S – not to mention the Bentley Eight, which carried on until 1992.
The last decade of the 20th century marked the arrival of numerous models, including the Continental R (1991), Brooklands (1992), Continental Turbo S (1994), Continental S (1994), Azure (1995), Turbo R Sport (1996), Continental T coupe (1996) and Continental SC with 4.5-litre V8 (1998).
After that, Vickers decided to sell Rolls-Royce and Bentley to Volkswagen AG.
The Azure ceased production in 2003 just as the Continental GT stepped in. The Flying Spur, a four-door variant of the Continental, came two years later, while the resurrected Azure and Continental GTC convertible followed suit in 2006. Later, Bentley added Speed models in a move to further enhance performance.
In 2009, the Continental Supersports was unveiled in Geneva as the most powerful production car in the brand's history.
Today, Bentley sells the Mulsanne along with several versions of the Continental, including the GT, Flying Spur, GTC and Supersports.
Tough choice: When a high-end luxury sedan is so beautiful, so powerful and so soothing to drive, would you prefer being seen in the backseat or behind the wheel?
Despite its size, this agile and impressive two-door bolts from 0-100 km/h in 4.2 seconds, and looks good doing it.
Bentley. Say it again: Bentley. It is a fairly simple word, not the easiest to pronounce, and yet it carries a huge amount of clout. The 20th Century saw many a great automotive tycoon come and go and Walter Owen Bentley was one of the most revered. His legacy has never been stronger and truer.
This year's Mille Miglia race in Italy will feature two unique 4½ litre Supercharged "Blowers"; a 1930 Le Mans race car belonging to perhaps the most famous and daring of the Bentley Boys, and a company demonstrator that is still going strong even after nine decades on the road.
As a tribute to Bentley's six victories at the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans (1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, and 2003), the British automaker is launching six new Le Mans Limited Edition specifications available on the flagship Mulsanne and the Continental family, exclusively for North America.
A total of 980 Bentley vehicles are being recalled across Canada. Affected models include the 2004-2013 Continental Flying Spur, Continental GT, and Continental GTC.