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W O Bentley: The Man Behind the Marque

W O Bentley: The Man Behind the Marque

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The Bentley motor car is one of the most respected marques in the world. It is synonymous with what is often referred to as the golden age of motorsport. Still the image remains of open sportscars, bearing the legendary winged B emblem, thundering aroundBrooklands and along the Mulsanne Straight at Le Mans. Yet while Bentley motor cars are widely revered, their creator, Walter Owen Bentley, is largely unknown.

In this meticulously researched and revealing biography, Malcolm Bobbitt chronicles W.O. Bentley's life and career and his love of machinery, especially motorcycles and motor cars. He records the rise and fall of Bentley Motors, the triumphs of the cars in competition, especially at Le Mans, and the enduring legend these performances created.The author looks back at W.O. Bentley's early career, his entry into the motor industry and his significant contribution during World War I to aero-engine design. He also gives a fascinating account of Bentley's continuous struggle to remain financially afloat. Without massive investment from the wealthy diamond merchant Woolf Barnato, Bentley Motors would not have survived as long as it did. When, during the Depression, Barnato could no longer afford to finance the company, it was taken over by Rolls-Royce. Malcolm Bobbitt recalls this controversial change of ownership and W.O. Bentley's diminished, sometimes unhappy role at Rolls-Royce and later at Lagonda.