Bentley Motors Limited (Bentley) is a British automobile brand founded in 1919 by W. O. Bentley. Before starting his own car factory, W. O. Bentley were selling and racing the French DFP cars were he pioneered the use of aluminum pistons by replacing the factory ones. During the First World War Bentley were building aircraft engines, the Bentley BR1 and BR2 rotary engines used in aircrafts such as the Sopwith Camel. Here W. O. Bentley did further pioneering using aluminum pistons together with cast iron sleeved aluminum cylinders. Dual ignition were also used to increase reliability.
Bentley's first car was produced in 1919. The 3 liter engines in these cars had four valves per cylinder, double sparkplugs and just like the aircraft engines, aluminum pistons to increase efficiency and power.
Other models followed, the 6.5 litre Speed Six in 1925 and the 4.5 litre in 1926.
Woolf Barnato acquired Bentley in 1926 after a period of financial difficulties.
Bentley had numerous wins at 24 hours of Le Mans, the world's oldest endurance race started in 1923. Bentley finished 1st, 2nd, 3rd & 4th place in 1929 in addition to first places in 1927, 1928 and 1930.
As a consequence of the crash on Wall Street in 1929 Bentley was liquidated, bought by Rolls Royce in 1931 and the racing era was ended. After World War II Bentley's became more and more badge engineered Rolls Royce's and by 1955 both brands were identical except for exterior styling.
Rolls Royce was liquidated in 1970 due to overspending on the RB211 aircraft jet engine and the aircraft and automobile divisions were separated.
Vickers acquired Rolls Royce Motors Limited; i.e. Bentley and Rolls Royce automobile brands in 1980 and resurrected the sporting Bentley marque with among other models the Bentley Mulsanne Turbo lanunched in 1982.
The Volkswagen Group took ownership of Bentley in 1998 added resources, technology and upgraded the factory in Crewe, England.
Bentley won Le Mans again in 2003, placing 1st and 2nd in the 24 hour endurance race.