Out now: the Autocade Yearbook 2024
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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024

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Walter Owen Bentley, who had some experience alongside his brother selling DFP cars, had an engineering background, and was soon tweaking the engines of the vehicles they were selling. New pistons and a camshaft found their way in to the DFP engines, and during the Great War, Bentley worked on and improved aircraft engines. In 1919, he started Bentley Motors, with the first model appearing two years later. With racing successes, Bentley cars were sought after, but demand of its luxury models dried up with the Great Depression, and the company fell into the hands of Rolls-Royce. For many years afterwards, Bentleys were little more than downmarket Rolls-Royces, though from the 1980s, the brand began a renaissance. The Mulsanne Turbo recalled the glory days, even if it looked like a Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit (1980–9), and unique bodywork began appearing in the Bentley range in the 1990s. A bid by Volkswagen saw the company in German hands from 1998, in which Bentley and Rolls-Royce, under agreement, would be broken up on January 1, 2003, with the latter going to BMW (thanks to its securing the trade mark rights in 1998 from Rolls-Royce plc). Under Volkswagen management, Rolls-Royce was all but ignored, with Bentley becoming the prominent marque; after 2003, the company débuted new models that owned little to the earlier cars, such as the Continental range. A new Mulsanne followed for 2010, inspired by the 8-Litre of the early 1930s. In 2015, Bentley entered the SUV market with the Bentayga.


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Out now: Autocade Yearbook 2024