Bentley Motors Limited is a British luxury automaker, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the German company Volkswagen AG. Its principal activity is the design, engineering, manufacture, and distribution of luxury automobiles. Based in Crewe, England, the company was founded by W. O. Bentley on 18 January 1919 in Cricklewood near London and was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931.
Bentley Motors Limited is the direct successor of Rolls-Royce Motors, which Volkswagen AG purchased in 1998. The purchase included the vehicle designs, model nameplates, production and administrative facilities, the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks, but not the rights to the use of the Rolls-Royce name or logo, which are owned by Rolls-Royce Holdings plc and were later licensed to BMW AG.
History of Bentley
Before World War I in Cricklewood near London, Walter Owen Bentley had been in partnership with his brother Horace selling French DFP cars, but he had always wanted to design and build his own range of cars bearing his name. It was on a visit to the DFP factory in 1913 that W.O. noticed an aluminium paperweight, and had the inspired idea of using the lightweight metal instead of cast iron to make engine pistons. The first aluminium pistons went into service in aero engines for the Sopwith Camel during World War I.
In August 1919, the company was registered, and a chassis with dummy engine was exhibited at the London Motor Show in October of that year. An innovative four valves per cylinder engine designed by ex–Royal Flying Corps officer Clive Gallop was built and running by December, and orders were taken for deliveries starting in June 1920; however, development took longer than estimated, and the first cars were not ready until September 1921. Their durability earned widespread acclaim.