Founded by one of the most colorful characters in all of automotive history, British automaker Bentley retains W.O. Bentley's vision of creating high-performance premium cars for the world's most discerning buyers.
Gaining a reputation for performance was easy for the earliest Bentley models, which were massive cars powered by fantastic, often supercharged engines. A group of enthusiasts known as the "Bentley Boys" perpetuated the brand's sporting...
image by entering the cars in competitive races across Europe. Today, those early Bentleys command six and seven-figure prices at collector car auctions across the world.
But Bentley's fortunes were forever changed when the brand was sold to the more sedate Rolls-Royce in the early 1930s after the world's markets crashed. The cars began to look and feel more like Rolls-Royces, to the point where, by the 1980s, differences were difficult to discern.
The stumbling, Vickers-owned Bentley was acquired by Volkswagen in the late 1990s, and the German brand quickly set about recreating the Bentley mystique. Still assembled in Crewe, England, the latest Bentleys are based on modern platforms and brim with both the power and luxury that made the brand famous in its earliest years. Contemporary Bentleys are derived primarily from the automaker's Continental GT coupe, which actually shares its all-wheel-drive architecture with Volkswagen's Phaeton.
A four-door version, the Flying Spur, was introduced in 2005 to appeal to users who needed more easily-accessible passenger space. The company branched out with its Mulsanne flagship in 2010, which is designed to appeal to its most discerning buyers.