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Heavy Metal Affliction - Bentley Motor Company

John Schommer
Thursday, February 2, 2017

It’s no surprise that the Bentley “Big B” emblem resembles the mythic winged solar disk found in ancient history. It is speculated that the winged solar disk was representative of the chariot of the gods, the implication being that the Bentley is a vehicle with a higher purpose. Additionally, the two flying wings of the Bentley emblem convey the age-old axiom that a Bentley is the the nearest a car can become to having wings.


Whether those wings are angelic or avionic, we can also say that if a Bentley had wings it could fly. Amazing top speeds often over 200 mph and record-setting in their class are just part of the Bentley brand.



The original W12 engines powered airplanes. Today the Bentley W12 engine found in many current models, generates freight train-like torque from idle to redline. “The Bentley driving experience is defined by effortless performance,” a Bentley spokesperson said. “Effortless performance is delivered by instantaneous and high levels of torque.”


Hopefully, you have had a chance to drive one of the latest Bentley’s to come to Forza games, the Bentayga. You’ll find it in the Rockstar Energy Car Pack for Forza Horizon 3. This is Bentley’s entrance into the luxury SUV market. It has all the hallmarks of a Bentley, a bold and regal appearance inside and out, the W12 under the hood, and a ride quality that is unequalled.


Nearly matchless is the amazing history of the Bentley Motor Company, the roots of which go back farther than any other car builder in the world. Mulliner is the coach work division of Bentley whose family history can be traced back the 15th century as saddle and carrier craftsmen. In 1760, F. Mulliner was commissioned to build and maintain carriages for the Royal Mail.


One hundred or so years later, the next in the Mulliner line started his own coachbuilding company and was early on focused on mechanical coaches. His son, H.J Mulliner, bodied the first Bentley’s and built a reputation as nothing less that the very best money could buy. In 1959, the Mulliner business became a part of Bentley and continues to this day to craft the most personal and luxurious vehicle details for some of the most discerning, and wealthy, car-buyers of the world.



With the legend of Mulliner encapsulating the luxury side, the performance side is backed up by a history no less rich. The aspirations of the Bentley brothers -- Walter and Horace -- to sell their own line of cars came to fruition in 1919. Their first engines exhibited forward-thinking performance technology, such as 4-valves per cylinder. It wasn’t long after the vehicles became known for their speed and durability that they were found racing in hill climbs and at Brooklands, the world’s first purpose-built race track. Bentley first entered the Indy 500 in 1922 and finished 13th.



Soon after their legend in motorsport began. In 1923, a privately-entered Bentley ran in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race and came in fourth. In 1924, Bentley entered a works effort and won the fabled race. The next two years, they languished, but came back in 1927 to win the next four races at Le Mans Including a 1-2 in 1930.



This was known as the Bentley Boy era. The Bentley Boys were a group of six gentlemen Bentley enthusiasts who raced and loved Bentleys. One of the most notable was Captain Woolf Barnato, who bought his first Bentley in 1925. In an extreme example of supporting your favorite manufacturer, Barnato, funded the company out of his own pocket, before buying it outright in 1926.


Boldly claiming they had learned enough about speed and reliability after the 1930 win in France, Bentley strayed from Le Mans racing for the next near 70 years. However, when they returned they did so in classic Bentley fashion.


They planned a three-year campaign with the goal of winning Le Mans in an era utterly dominated by Audi. They battled the Audis for two years with some success. Then in 2003, with the aid of Audi, mechanical and team resources, and no Audi works team participating, the Bentley Speed 8s managed to replicate their 1-2 victory of 1930.


Today, you can find Bentley Continental GT3s racing in the top GT racing series, from the World Challenge to Blancpain, GT Asia, and more. The Bentley works team has also raced at the Bathurst 12 Hour, where the team achieved third and the Nürburgring 24 Hours where they earned seventh.



Overall, the Continental GT3 has contributed 74 podiums and 29 wins to the brands legendary racing history. Coming up this Sunday February 5 you can watch the Bentley Continental GT3 kick off its 2017 racing season at the Bathurst 12 Hour race.


All that racing provenance may not be at the forefront of the minds of Bentayga buyers, or Forza fans who have had the joy of piloting this decadent SUV over whatever terrain presents itself, but it has contributed to its performance. The Bentayga did more than 400 laps at the Nürburgring Nordschleife to refine chassis and suspension tuning as well as testing across five continents from the Arctic Circle to Dubai.



One of the coolest things Bentley proved for was that the Bentayga could maintain its top speed of 187 mph in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees Fahrenheit without any loss of refinement or cooling. And the Bentayga was tested to ensure every single system works perfectly from -22 degrees Fahrenheit all the way to a scalding 127 degrees. After all, whether its owner is driving or being driven, they expect to do so in the utmost comfort a Bentley is known for.


What’s possibly the most amazing of all is how for nearly 100 years Bentley has always been the pinnacle of luxury and performance. It’s a brand that all the other luxury brands aspire to be compared to. One could argue it is the contribution of 500 years of refining what comfort and luxury mean to those who can afford the very best. Or perhaps the ancients had the Bentley brand in mind themselves thousands of years further back when they envisioned what those they worshipped would be transported in. Either way it is a visionary journey.