Bentley Motors Ltd 1919
Bentley Motors was established in 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley in Cricklewood, North London. W.O. Bentley, as he was known, had successfully manufactured aircraft engines during the First World War.
The company's reputation for high-performance, fast cars was spread by a group of wealthy British automobile aficionados known as the "Bentley Boys." Bentley had great success on the racetrack at Le Mans in particular, winning four back-to-back victories between 1927 and 1930.
The Great Depression drastically reduced demand for luxury cars, and Bentley Motors found itself in receivership in 1931. The firm became Bentley Motors (1931) Ltd. at this point, and was sold to Rolls-Royce. Production moved to Derby.
In the war years, Rolls-Royce began producing its famous Merlin aircraft engines in Crewe, and in 1946 Bentley Motors was moved here to benefit from a concentration of engineering talent and skilled mechanics. It was here that one of the most successful models in the firm's history was produced: the Bentley Mark VI.
Financial difficulties at Rolls-Royce prompted the separation of its aircraft and motor businesses in 1970, with the formation of Rolls-Royce Motors (of which Bentley was a subsidiary) in 1971. This became a public company, Rolls-Royce Motors Ltd, in 1973.
The business was sold to Vickers in 1980, where production and sales enjoyed a considerable increase throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
In 1998 Vickers sold Rolls-Royce Motors and its subsidiaries to Volkswagen AG for £430 million. Bentley cars continued to be manufactured in Crewe after the change in ownership.