100 years of extraordinary
Bentley Motors celebrates its centenary with the limited-edition Continental GT number 9 and a series of exceptional events, writes Natalie Glorney
This year, in celebration of its centenary, Bentley reveals the most anticipated motorcar in its history, the Mulliner Limited Edition Continental GT number 9. Only 100 of these remarkable cars will ever be produced. It pays tribute to Bentley’s proud racing heritage and to one of the most influential figures in the company’s history.
In his early years of racing, W.O. Bentley imported French cars made by Doriot, Flandrin & Parant. On a visit to DFP’s office in France, he picked up an aluminium paperweight and wondered whether the lightweight material could be used to improve the pistons used in engines. He started by fitting the pistons to his own competition car, and began winning races with ease. When war broke out, he joined the Royal Naval Air Service where he introduced aluminium pistons to make fighter aircraft engines more powerful and reliable. Finally, when the war was over, W.O. used his invention to revolutionise the world of automobiles – and Bentley Motors was born in 1919.
The new limited-edition Continental GT features a series of interior and exterior design tributes to one of the most famous cars in Bentley’s history – the No. 9 Blower. The original No. 9 is famed for breaking records, wowing spectators and capturing hearts and minds during the 1920s and 1930s. The character of the car made it an instant favourite and an enduring legend of motor racing. Indeed, author Ian Fleming was so taken with the Blower, he made it the original Bond car.
Each of the 100 cars in the Continental GT Number 9 Edition contains something incredibly rare – a piece of the racing seat from Sir Tim Birkin’s iconic 1930 No. 9 Le Mans race car. It is a seat that contains countless stories, having set several speed records, ensuring its place in Bentley’s history. The original seat was replaced during restoration works on the car – which still races today – and now this priceless piece of Bentley’s story has found a permanent home. A fragment of wood from the seat is proudly displayed in the Bentley Rotating Display, adding a piece of the Bentley story to every car.
An exclusive British Jaeger clock face and the turned aluminium Engine Spin finish on the central console evoke the power and racing pedigree of the original car. The debossed B from the door pads of the original No. 9 has been lovingly recreated on the headrests and door pads, and the hides are given a high-gloss finish, to more closely represent the style of the 1930s. Two luxurious paint colours can be selected, Beluga and Mulliner’s newly created Viridian. Making its debut with the Number 9 Edition, Viridian represents a modern take on the traditional racing green of the original No. 9 Blower. Beluga offers a different direction, with a deep, luxurious black. The car’s 22” painted wheels can either match the car’s exterior, or you can use the other paint colour as a striking contrast. An 18-carat gold-plated No. 9 exterior badge, showcasing the extraordinary Mulliner craft, provides the perfect finishing touch.
After the brand’s inception in 1919, it wasn’t long before Bentley’s fast and faithful cars attracted the attention of a group of wealthy young men and women known as the Bentley Boys and Girls. They raced Bentleys at Le Mans, and encouraged W.O. to push the limits of automotive engineering, resulting in an incredible five Le Mans victories in seven years. Bentley’s current GT3 racing teams continue this legacy of daring and fast driving.
After bringing excitement to both racetrack and road for decades, Bentley took adventure to new horizons in 2015 with Bentayga. The world’s first luxury SUV has conquered some of the world’s most inhospitable environments with ease; the sand dunes of the UAE, the ice of the Arctic Circle and the blistering heat of the dirt tracks around Cape Town.
Since roaring into life, Bentley’s pioneering spirit has now been leading the way for 100 years. To further mark this milestone, Bentley is hosting a selection of unforgettable events and unique experiences throughout 2019. From extraordinary drives, to fabulous festivals, sophisticated parties and illustrious motor shows, several celebrations will be held in the UK. Kicking off the celebrations, enthusiasts can enjoy the Cheltenham Festival in unparalleled style, from the surrounds of Bentley’s 1919 VIP Bar and Lounge. Bentley hospitality can be enjoyed at this year’s celebration of speed and power at Goodwood’s Festival of Speed, ahead of the Bentley Masters at Salon Privé, Blenheim Palace where 50 of the rarest, most spectacular models will gather to celebrate 100 years of the marque. Further events will see the brand visiting historic York, Bentley’s home in Crewe, the picturesque Cotswolds and on to London’s exquisite St. Pancras Hotel, where the celebrations culminate in a black tie dinner at the Tower of London. International events are also planned in Switzerland, France and China.
Bentley enthusiasts that desire a keepsake of the celebrations can peruse the new Centenary Collection online. The pieces in this limited edition collection feature the Bentley ‘100 Extraordinary Years’ alongside centenary gold detailing similar to those that appear on every car built during this very special year. The collection includes home accessories, clothing and stationery that are lovingly crafted by highly skilled artisans. Signature pieces in the collection such as the iconic leather jacket feature the same intricate detailing that goes into each Bentley car.