50 Years of The Bentley V8 Engine


Maybe I’m showing my age, but my first thought at reading that Bentley is celebrating 50 years of V8s was to think, “Bentley makes V8s?” Of course I know they do, but, and maybe I’m being chauvinistic here, but I always think of V8s as being an American deal. Shoot, if I really think about it, I think of V8s as being Ford’s deal. Maybe that’s unfair, and I don’t mean to be so to Bentley, because they have always been “the performance division” of Rolls Royce (before they split up).

Ironically, I got an email from a (non-car) friend just a few days ago, and the exchange went like this:

“New car I saw, looks kind of like a Jaguar sedan, sharper corners, logo was
wings with a “B” in a circle”


“$197,000 for a car.”

“No, that’s 197K for a Bentley. They used to be part of Rolls Royce …
now, Bentley is owned by VW, and BMW owns Rolls.”

If you follow racing (and it’s always interested me, the number of car guys that don\’t follow racing in the slightest), then you know Bentley. Sure, you could say that Bentley has been coasting on their laurels since seriously stomping the terra back in the 20s.


Bentleys then, like Bentleys now have always been hulking tanks. Out-hefting Mercedes in all-up weight (which is saying something in and of itself). So running big block V8s makes a hell of a lot of sense. Rolls always used to say their horsepower was “adequate” (how British), and back in the 80s, Bentley used to say their horsepower was “adequate + 35HP”. And God knows they weren’t kidding. For the tanks they were, they could hustle.

And Bentleys still can to this day. The current Continental GT is flat out fast. sure, I wouldn’t want to take it down the PCH. But cross country? The Continental GT would be a GREAT road trip car.

So 50 years Bentley has been at it with V8s?

Good for Bentley, and here’s to 50 more!



(Crewe, 20 January 2009). Dr. Ulrich Eichhorn, Member of the Board for Engineering at Bentley Motors, will chart the progress of one of the world’s most remarkable and enduring automotive engines at the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation lecture on January 22nd.

Fifty years after its introduction in the iconic Bentley S2 Continental, Bentley’s V8 engine continues to power the company’s powerful, flagship luxury motor cars including the 530bhp Bentley Brooklands coupe, the Arnage and Azure convertible models in 2009.

\”The Bentley V8 is a prime example of how a well executed original design has endured and evolved under the right guardianship. We look forward to hearing Ulrich’s views on how an engine first built in 1959 has been improved by generations of Bentley engineers,\” comments John Lowe from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and a trustee of the Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation.

\”Today’s engine is true to the original design. However, it has achieved power and torque increases of over 150 per cent through the skilful introduction of fuel injection, turbocharging and intercooling technologies whilst remaining compliant with the latest emissions standards. It is an extraordinary engineering story spanning five decades which deserves to be celebrated.\”

As engineering director Dr. Eichhorn has overseen the development of the potential of the Bentley V8 and this includes the introduction of the engine in its most potent form in the Bentley Brooklands coupe. Hand-built at the company’s Crewe headquarters, the 63⁄4 litre Bentley V8 engine powering the Bentley Brooklands generates 1050 Nm/774 lb.ft of torque at 3250rpm and is capable of offering a top speed of 184mph as well as a 0-60mph sprint time of just 5 seconds.

Since joining Bentley Motors in 2003, Dr. Eichhorn has also overseen the introduction of the 6 litre W12 engine in the company\’s Continental range. Earlier this month, Bentley Motors launched the Continental GTC Speed, the world\’s fastest four-seat convertible, at the Detroit Motor Show.

The 2009 Sir Henry Royce Memorial Foundation Lecture is organised by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMecheE), which has over 80,000 members and a 160-year heritage, the lecture will be held at 1 Birdcage Walk, Westminster (Thursday, 22nd January).

Full details of Dr. Eichhorn’s lecture will also be available at www.imeche.org/playback.

About The Author

Tony Borroz grew up in a sportscar oriented family, but sadly, it was British cars. His knuckles still show the marks of slipped Whitworth sockets, strains to reach upper rear shock bushings on Triumphs, and slight burn marks from dealing with Lucas Electric “systems.” He has written for a variety of car magazines and websites, Automoblog chief among them. Tony has worked on popular driving games as a content expert, in addition to working for aerospace companies, software giants, and as a movie stuntman. He currently lives in a secure, undisclosed location in the American southwestern desert.

1 Comment on "50 Years of The Bentley V8 Engine"

  1. Bentley makes powerful and stylish cars while Rolls Royce makes cars that are more luxurious but less powerful than Bentleys. That's a bit odd because Bentley is owned by VW and Rolls by BMW and BMWs were always known for their power.

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