The four-tonne armored vehicles, continuously maintained by Bentley, are powered by the company’s perennial 6.75-liter V8 producing 400 horsepower. The cars bear no relation in either appearance or physical proportion to any other Bentley product, and has been designed with continual reference to and input from both The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh and of course, the Head Chauffeur.
Bentley Mulliner Coachbuilding division provides a wide variety of bespoke services ranging from exotic veneers inlaid with personalised marquetry to the latest digital entertainment and electronic business office facilities.
Although the Bentley State Limousine is derived from the latest Series II Bentley Arnage. This model is designed for a minimum lifespan of 25 years and 125,000 miles and is The Queen’s principal transport at state and ceremonial occasions.
The Bentley ‘flyingB’ mascot is exhanged for a St. George and Dragon mascot when the Queen is being driven in the car.
Walter Owen Bentley was born the youngest of nine children in September 1888, and into a comfortably-off late Victorian family. With almost as many servants as family, the Bentley’s lived in a rambling Villa in Avenue Road, St John’s Wood, North London.
The ‘Bun’, as he was nick-named, was interested in cricket and passionate about railways.
As a boy, he had no doubt what he intended to do with his life and in 1905 at the age of 16 left school to pursue a premium apprenticeship in Doncaster at the locomotive works of the Great Northern Railway.
For the next three and a half years of ‘sweat and dirt’ (as he described them), WO as he became universally known, learnt his engineering skills.
By 1909 he was ready to experience his burning childhood ambition to get onto the footplate of a steam locomotive. Eventually he was firing express locomotives out of Kings Cross station, London.
In 1906, WO acquired his first motor-cycle, a 3hp Quadrant. By 1907 the ‘lure of speed’ as he later described it, expressed itself when he entered the 400-mile London to Edinburgh Trial, staged by the Motor Cycling Club. After dealing en route with various problems endemic to early motor cycles, he reached Edinburgh just before his scheduled deadline, and so qualified for a Gold Medal in his first sporting trial.
WO became proficient at both trials, road and track racing. He could be found practising on the empty roads in the early hours of the morning, before police speed traps were operating. He later acquired a Rex motorcycle and subsequently an Indian, both of which he entered in the motorcycle T.T. races. The Indian was also raced at Brooklands before he acquired his first car.
During WWI, Lieutenant WO Bentley RNVR served his country through an introduction to Commander Wilfred Briggs, WO was given a commission in the Royal Navy. Appreciating Bentley’s considerable engineering skills, he was sent to both Rolls-Royce at Derby and later to the Sunbeam works, where he demonstrated the aluminium alloy piston and recommended its adoption for aero engines. The ‘new’ engines were a great success.
In 1919, WO Bentley together with a group including Frank Burgess (formerly of Humber) and Harry Varley (formerly of Vauxhall), set about designing a high quality sporting tourer, for production under the name Bentley. Colonel Clive Gallop, who had been flying planes on the Western Front, which had been powered by WO’s aero engines, joined the team, specifically designing the four valve-per-cylinder camshaft arrangement for the first engine. With his brother, Horace Bentley, WO established the first ‘Bentley Motors’, that same year.
On 21 September 1922, the first production Bentley left the factory . The 3 litre in its short chassis guise, was capable of 90mph – a remarkable achievement for a standard production car at that time, especially as this performance was combined with unusually high reliability. The team racing versions would reach top speeds in excess of 100mph.
During the 1920’s Bentley went from strength to strength. Racing triumphs proved reliability, speed and incredible performance. These were the years of the Bentley Boys. Extraordinary adventures followed by extravagant victorious celebrations.
1929 saw the Bentley team’s best ever result at Le Mans, with Bentleys placed 1st, 2nd, 3rd, & 4th. The three consecutive wins by the Bentley Motors manager Bernato, are a record which stands to this day. In total Five Le Mans victories were achieved in the 1920’s (and a successful return in 2003 secured the sixth historical win).
Bentley have produced many beautiful cars. The 1950 Continental, in our view, is one of the best.
Bentley continues to go from strength to strength and produces beautiful, powerful grand tourers today.
Below is an interesting video produced by Bentley-Mulliner featuring the Arnage limousine and detailing the company’s bespoke services.
All the latest Bentley’s can be seen here