On the 10th of July 2019, Bentley celebrated its first 100 years: founded in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley on the outskirts of London with the dream of “building a fast car, a good car, the best in its class”, the Flying B has, in itself, indelibly marked the evolution and the international scene of motoring, uniting the virtues of style and performance: among the brands chosen by the British Royal Family and six times winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
An extraordinary tour on the hills around Bologna aboard a Bentley New Continental GT Convertible was the perfect opportunity to retrace climbs, descents and turning points in the history of this iconic brand.
The history of Bentley is one of the great classics of petrolhead culture: the saga of a brand capable of overcoming the ups and downs of historical cycles with pride and authentic British style. After the first years, marked by a series of victories in prominent competitions such as the Indianapolis 500 and the 24 Hours of Le Mans together with the legendary Bentley Boys led by Woolf Barnato, the fortune of the brand suffered a sharp collapse due to the Great Depression . In 1931 the Flying B ended up being absorbed by the fierce rival Rolls Royce.
It was the beginning of a complicated phase, shaken up by the two World Wars and characterized by the difficulty for the company to express itself in a distinctive way within the new corporate structure.
The beginning of the rebirth came in the late 90s, when BMW and Volkswagen jointly took over Rolls Royce, and then inaugurated a new golden era for Bentley in 2003, with the definitive acquisition by the Volkswagen Group of the new projects and investments, the resumption of sports activities and the first significant victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, 73 years after the last success. A new positive parable that today is aiming even higher.
Bentley identity, intact and true to itself through 100 years of evolution, is what is pounding behind this brand: what makes it exciting, unmistakable, timeless. An accurate design, emblematic of a luxury that is not an end in itself but designed to offer a car experience that delights the senses. A racing DNA that is never dormant, which is expressed through the constant search for unrivaled mechanical performance. The meticulous selection of materials, which makes each single vehicle comparable to a princely suite on four wheels. The quality of the human touch, recognizable in the refinement of the veneers, in the homogeneity and gloss of the paint that adorns the exterior, in the quality of the seams and the embroidery of the interior.
Did you know that to make sure that the stitches on the leather enveloping the steering wheel are all the same and equidistant, Bentley craftsmen are used to mark the leather with a kitchen fork before proceeding with sewing? The entire sewing process requires five hours, during which 10 meters of thread are used when inserting 620 separate stitches. And this is just the steering wheel. It takes a full 136 hours to complete the inside of a Mulsanne!
This devotion to perfection enchants us, inspires us and... makes us even more convinced of the quality we expect for The Outlierman products. The heritage of Bentley excellence echoes the equally excellent and centuries-old Italian tradition visible in the official tie that we designed and manufactured for Bentley's centenary as a style partner of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance® 2019.
A tradition of good taste, clearly visible in the elegant but expressive design that synthesizes Bentley identity, and a tradition of craftsmanship that is perpetuated through the hands of Como seamstresses, among the most skilled and appreciated in Italy and the world. The exact and authentic sense of a prestige statement such as "100% Made in Italy", of which all The Outlierman products can boast.
As car enthusiasts and Bentley fans, we are honored to have been able to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the legendary "Flying B" by expressing our stylistic and artisanal know-how. And when Bentley writes "We believe that our future will be as stimulating, progressive and distinctive as our history"... Well, we would be ready to bet on it too!
Photos: Sajin Park for The Outlierman © 2019
Car: courtesy of Bentley Milano