Founded by W.O. Bentley in 1919, this British car brand has spent almost a century combining luxury craftsmanship with outstanding performance. As a pioneer in engineering and technological innovation, Bentley quickly became a racing powerhouse. The brand won the Le Mans 24-hour race no less than five times in the 1920s, with help from the iconic Bentley Boys – a tight-knit group of playboy racers and adventurers who adored cars and were always up for a challenge.
Playboys like Woolf Barnato – heir to a vast diamond mine fortune and, from 1926, chairman of Bentley Motors – who, during a dinner party in 1930 bet his companions £200 that he could beat the famous Blue Train from France’s Côte d’Azur to Calais in his Speed Six. No one would take the bet, but Barnato decided to race the train anyway, making such good time that he continued on to London, arriving outside the Conservative Club in St James’s Street just four minutes before the train pulled into Calais. Unsurprisingly W.O. Bentley considered Barnato the best of all his drivers.
The spirit of the Bentley Boys lives on today, through drivers like four-time World Rally Champion Juha Kankkunen who set a new world record behind the wheel of a Bentley Continental Supersports Convertible in 2011 and actor Idris Elba broke the history ‘flying mile’ UK land speed record in 2015, a record originally set by Sir Malcolm Campbell in 1927.