Gallery: 90 years of Bentley heritage at 79MM

10th April 2022
Andrew Willis

Graced with exceptional clarity of thought, Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley set out to build “a fast car, a good car, the best in its class”. If that was the ambition, then over 100 years later, Walter would feel vindicated in a job well done, with Bentley Motors developing into a shining light of British automotive engineering.

At the 79th Members’ Meeting by Audrain Motorsport, Bentley celebrated its long and rich history by being an Official Automotive Partner of the event. Displaying 10 iconic Bentleys from its Heritage Collection, comprising exquisite examples from every decade in its 102-year history, and from every site of production including: Cricklewood (1919-1931), Derby (Rolls-Royce, 1931-1970) and Crewe (Rolls-Royce, Vickers and Volkswagen, 1946-present).

More recently, Bentley has been focusing on expanding its new carbon neutral factory and campus to ensure the marque’s future looks as solid as its past. In the background, its famous Heritage Collection has also been steadily growing, with six new additions augmenting the flourishing ‘dream garage’, that now totals 35 road-legal cars.

The 10-car display, nestled neatly between our Goodwood Shop and the wonderful gents at the Auto Artists for Ukraine stall comprised: a 1929 Team Blower No.2, a 1929 Speed Six, a 1931 8.0-Litre, a 1949 Mark VI, a 1952 R-Type Continental, a 1984 Continental, a 1991 Turbo R, a 2002 Continental R, a 2012 Supersports and finally, a 2019 Mulsanne Speed.

To see the scope of history of one marque, congregated in one intimate setting like this, certainly provides tangible context for what Bentley has achieved over the years, which is exactly what Mike Sayer, the head of Bentley’s Heritage Collection intended.

“As the brand defines its new direction, it’s vital to be able to chart our journey to date and where the Bentley of today came from. The expanding Heritage Collection will play a key part in that process, providing driveable examples of every chapter of the company’s long history.”

Obvious highlights include the 6.5-litre Speed Six – which became the most successful racing Bentley, winning Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 at the hands of Bentley Boys Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin and Glen Kidston. The 1991 Turbo R, a car that heralded the rebirth of Bentley as a motorsport brand. The 2001 Arnage Red Label, which saw the 6.75-litre V8s return to Bentley saloons. And finally, the achingly cool, and rare, 2012 Supersports, capable of 200mph-plus. Despite now being a decade old, it still manages to capture the attention, even at a standstill.

Delivering consistent excellence in both automotive and motorsport design, performance and pedigree, Bentley Motors are right to celebrate their storied history with us this weekend. We’re excited to see how their Beyond100 future strategy adds to their Heritage Collection in generations to come.

Photography by Toby Whales.

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