An Introduction to Vintage Bentleys

An Introduction to Vintage Bentleys



An Introduction to Vintage Bentleys

The Bentleys of the W.O. era were known to be captivating, but there’s little literature on them. Here, we introduce a definitive book on the subject.

text:Hiromi TAKEDA
Translation: Mako Ayabe and Michael Balderi

Walter Owen Bentley was the founder and first chief designer of the Bentley Company. The Bentley automobiles produced from 1919, when he started the company, to 1931, when it was bought out by Rolls-Royce, are known as 'W.O. Bentleys', after their founder. Alternatively, they’re known as 'Cricklewood Bentleys', after the site where the factory headquarters were located.
Bentleys from this era weren’t only extremely attractive as heavyweight vintage British sports cars, but also achieved brilliant results in major events, such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans. This is why these Bentleys have maintained their status and appeal, captivating enthusiasts from all over the world, even today.
Surprisingly, however, there’s a dearth of literature featuring Bentleys from the W.O. era. In fact, it would be no exaggeration to say that there are almost no specialist books written on the subject in Japanese. Even in the UK, there’s far less literature on this period of the automaker's history than one would expect, especially given the relative popularity of the classic era Bentley.
Still, within these limitations, there’s a book that is considered definitive: Bentley Factory Cars 1919-31. As the title suggests, the book focuses exclusively on Bentleys produced between 1919 and 1931 – in other words, the Cricklewood Bentleys that W.O. built himself. The book was published in 1993, so it’s not new, but it’s still a so-called 'definitive' specialist book, essential to the library of every W.O. Bentley enthusiast.
The author, Michael Hay, has also written other specialist books such as Bentley: The Vintage Years and Autofolio on the Supercharged 4 ½ Litres. In addition, he’s a renowned vintage Bentley expert who also contributes to the official magazine of the Bentley Drivers Club (B.D.C.). If you’ve become interested in the dandyism of the Bentley world by reading our new magazine Flying B, you should definitely give Hay’s book a go.

author: Michael Hay

This is a revised version of an article that appeared in Flying B No 001 (2008). The information provided here was accurate at the time of publication.