Bentley began with a paperweight. In 1913, Walter Owen (W.O.) Bentley was working with his brother Horace, in Cricklewood, England selling DFP cars, when an aluminum paperweight gave him the idea of using a lightweight metal instead of iron to create engine pistons. He created them, and they were first utilized in the engines of British Sopwith Camels, a single-seat biplane fighter, during World War 1.
In 1919, Bentley Motors Ltd. became a registered company, and W.O. focused in on creating cars. The first Bentley production cars were for sale that same year, though deliveries weren’t able to begin until late 1921. They were wildly popular and heralded for their durability.
The 1922 Indianapolis 500 saw the marque’s first foray into the United States, where they finished in 13th place. Though most other competitors used specialized cars, Bentley took on the USA in a modified road car, and still finished with an average speed of 74.95 mph.
Bentley’s ownership changed hands in 1925, when Wolf Barnato became chairman by financing the company long enough for W.O. to create another generation of cars. Bentley share prices had plummeted to 5 percent of their original value by the financial reorganization, but it saved the marque long enough to be purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1931.
Though saloons dominated Bentley design, today the lineup includes a wide variety of coupes and convertibles suited to every need. A perfect blend of luxury and performance in a durable form, this marque is one that will be around for decades more to come.