In March, Bentley announced that it had just built its 200,000th model, which is as good a reason as any to celebrate. It did take them 102 years to do it, but it takes time to indulge the wealthiest of the wealthy with bespoke luxury on wheels. In honor of the esteemed company, we offer these fun facts about Bentley’s legendary cars.
A Slow Start
Although Bentley has built a reputation as one of Europe’s top-rated auto brands, they assembled most of their 200,000 cars fairly recently. Before 2003, Bentley had about 44,000 models to its name. Since then, it’s stepped up the pace with 155,582 vehicles. Number 200,000 was a Bentley Bentayga Hybrid commissioned by a customer in China.
Jilted by James
Although Aston Martin is associated with James Bond in the movies, the books were a different matter. Author Ian Fleming makes it clear from the first book that Bond prefers Bentleys. While he did drive an Aston Martin in the book Goldfinger, that car was on loan from the secret service. Somehow, Aston Martin muscled in on the cinematic action.
It’s hard to find the time for hobbies, so in 2017 Bentley created a unique Bentayga that combines the passions for automobiles and falconry. It came equipped with all the equipment needed to train hawks, including a GPS bird-tracking unit, binoculars, hand-crafted leather bird hoods, and gauntlets. The trunk boasts a master flight station.
Electrifying the Earth
Bentley was the first U.K. auto manufacturer to win the triple Carbon Trust Standard award for carbon, water, and waste reduction. It wasn’t an empty honor. Since then, Bentley has committed to only offering plug-in hybrid electric or battery electric vehicles by 2026. By 2030, their entire model range will be fully electric. They even have the largest solar panel rooftop in the United Kingdom, which can power up to 40 percent of the electricity they need (on a sunny day).
In the late 1920s, the company’s racing team distinguished itself with wild antics even more than driving—although they did win five Le Mans over eight years. Called the Bentley Boys, they made headlines for drinking till dawn and handing their dates crash helmets. One of the Boys, Glen Kidston, was particularly well known for his heroics. He was the sole survivor of a plane crash. He kicked through the fuselage while on fire, tried and failed to rescue a prince, ran a mile for help, and so on. The next year, he won Le Mans.
Here’s a fun fact about Bentley’s legendary cars that you can use. Its “winged B” hood ornament has a different number of feathers on each side, so you can tell if it’s fake or the real thing.