Bentley’s Cricklewood Era: A Blend of Speed and Luxury

During Bentley’s Cricklewood era, the brand was renowned for its association with sports cars and high-speed touring vehicles. Yet, W.O. Bentley also made a concerted effort to cater to the luxury carriage trade with his larger models, such as the 4½-Litre, 6½-Litre, and 8-Litre. This period marked a significant chapter in Bentley’s history, characterized by innovation and competition.

Bentley’s Foray into Luxury with Larger Models

While Bentley cars were often celebrated for their sporty prowess, W.O. Bentley was equally dedicated to producing luxury vehicles. The larger models, including the 4½-Litre, 6½-Litre, and 8-Litre, were crafted with the luxury market in mind. These models were not just about performance; they offered an unparalleled driving experience in comfort and sophistication.

The 8-Litre: Bentley’s Ultimate Luxury Car

Introduction and Market Position

In 1930, Bentley unveiled the 8-Litre at the London Motor Show. This model was a direct competitor to the Rolls-Royce Phantom II, with a price tag of £1,850. Despite Bentley’s financial difficulties, the 8-Litre stood out, offering superior performance that justified its cost. It was the largest-engined car in the UK then, living up to its advertising slogan of “100mph without noise.”

Production and Acquisition Attempt

Bentley faced significant financial challenges, which limited the production of the 8-litre to just 100 units. 1931 Napier sought to acquire Bentley, but Rolls-Royce recognized Bentley’s potential as a formidable competitor. Rolls-Royce successfully thwarted Napier’s bid, paving the way for Bentley’s revitalization under their ownership.

Engineering Marvels of the 8-Litre

Engine and Gearbox Innovations

The 8-Litre represented an evolution in Bentley’s Vintage-era lineup, building on the proven features of the 6½-Litre while incorporating the latest engineering advancements. The engine was significantly enlarged by increasing the bore size from 100 to 110mm. The gearbox, known as the ‘F-type,’ was a radical departure from previous designs, crafted to handle the increased power and torque and to operate quietly.

Chassis and Suspension Enhancements

T8-Litre’s chassis frame was new, featuring a ‘double drop’ design that lowered the car’s height and center of gravity. This innovative design required a hypoid-bevel rear axle. The more robust frame, with seven tubular cross members, provided enhanced stability for a large, heavy vehicle capable of high speeds. The 8-Litre also boasted improved suspension, steering, and braking systems, making it a remarkable achievement in the realm of luxury automobiles.

Conclusion

Bentley’s Cricklewood era was a time of sporting excellence and luxurious innovation. The 8-litre model epitomized this blend, combining high-speed capabilities with the sophistication expected of a luxury car. Despite financial setbacks and fierce competition with Rolls-Royce, Bentley’s dedication to engineering and design excellence ensured their cars remained iconic symbols of automotive history.

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Source: Bonhams Cars

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