Bentley – a winged legend of a legendary car

Bentley – a winged legend of a legendary car


Bentley cars have always been beautiful, strong and fast. Pride and myth prevent them from being treated indifferently.

Today it is one of the brands included in the concern Volkswagenbut in the minds of car enthusiasts Bentley however, it will forever remain the same as England, and those who have it say “that Bentley you don’t buy it, but you rent it for life”.

It is not surprising that from the first moment the project of building “your own supercar” was implemented by its creator Walter Owen Bentley he decided to clarify also in terms of the image, placing it with an element that would refer to his expectations.

In fact, there was nothing new, because from the moment the car was born, almost every new model, according to the wishes of its creators, was decorated with a different symbol, which was also a trademark of the company. And that in many cases, starting more or less from the first decade of the last century and being attracted to the sky, they symbolized the power, speed and freedom of the wing, then. WO Bentley nor did it deviate from this tradition.

Although no! He had special reasons for this, because his professional and successful career (although he loved steam engines and steam engines) began precisely with aviation, especially with a large financial bonus (the incredible amount of £ 8,000 he received after to complete the aircraft engine project commissioned by the RAF.

The rotating engine of the BR-2 aircraft and next to it one of the planes that were installed

His work was, among other things, a great cycle BR1 (Bentley Rotary) and its BR2 version used in British Spowith Camel and Spowith Snipe fighters.
These engines turned out to be so effective that RAF aircraft were equipped until the late 1920s.

Although he and his brother had already done business and technically improved the cars of the French DFP, it was thanks to air transport that after the end of the Great War he was able to return to what he had originally intended to do, namely to work on his own car, which was . still under the name Bentley Trials 1 secretly, though with much fanfare, it made its debut on the streets of London in September 1919, to add glamor to the London motor show (Olympia Motor Show) that same year.

Walter Owen Bentley. He was born in 1988 and founded Bentley Motors Ltd. in 1919, the first car he built was the Bentley Experimental 1 (right)

Later, of course, it may be a story known to many fans of this brand (and if not, we will return one day), but now let’s focus on the “wing logo”, i.e. the fully associated “Flying B”, which in 1921 for the first time first (only more in the form of a metal badge) appeared on the casing of coolers produced by the company. Bentley Motors Ltd. cars that are already known as Bentley 3 liter.

If the badge was created by itself WO Bentley? This is unknown, but it is certain that he gave his author unambiguous instructions – there should be wings and the letter “B” – as Bentley. In fact, there are three types of badges with the same shape, but in nature they differ in color.

The red label (red label) was reserved for the Short Standard sports cars, also known as the Speed ​​version ​​​​​​(with a short wheelbase of 2,985 mm), blue (then black) for the Long Standard touring chassis (wheelbase 3,315 mm) , and the green background meant chassis versions prepared for Super Sport stunt (wheelbase 2743 mm), that is, cars that easily reached speeds of over 100 mph.

This tradition has always existed…, in the heyday of the brand in the 1930s, then when it belonged to Rolls-Royce from 1931 and now it is owned by the Audi concern since 1998.

The first to take the boss’s order Bentley Motors It was Frederic Gordon Crosby who was known at that time and specialized in the “art of cars”. He had no artistic education and could be described as a typical self-taught person… but what?

First working as a painter in the English Daimler, then he moved to Coventry and thanks to the connections of the high man, cars and art lover. Arthur Ludlow Clayton as a painter he found his way into the gallery environment Automotive Engineerwhich over time has become the most recognized newspaper in England and beyond Motor vehicle.

Frederic Gordon Crosby and his wonderful “car” pictures.

Apparently, the first order from the editor’s office for the 23-year-old Crosby was to make a sketch of the spark gap section. Boschbut he is actually famous for his many and instantly recognizable fashion sketches depicting expressive (and sometimes slightly exaggerated) situations that depict the drama of motorsport.

Inter-city racing from the early years of driving, racetrack advertising and rallying. So you can believe that WO Bentley went to the most suitable person. First the badge, then the statue, very important in the 1920s, crowning the radiator cap. Earlier, FG Crosby presented (in accordance with his celestial preference) the image of Icarus.

The image of Icarus proposed by Crosby and the first winged statue of B on the right

After all, he had wings and showed independence and freedom … but according to the client, Icarus was too pretentious. The next project is a large “B” with horizontally growing, symmetrically placed wings. Exactly! Is it symmetrical?? It is not necessary, because due to artistic effects, the car decided that the number of feathers in the plaque and the statue was not the same.

This project attracted WO and such “B” can be found on early models of Bentley cars, but from 1933 the new owner of the brand (Rolls-Royce) decided that with the shifting lines of the bodies, which were now thinner, the styling of the statuette should also change. Although Crosby was doing well (he later designed the famous wildcat for Jaguar), Charles Stykes was asked for a new design.

Style “Flying B” by Charlaes Stykes

Yes, it’s the same artist who created the “Silver Lady” statue! So it’s not a coincidence, because from the past it was clearly close to Mr. “R”. There was no revolution. Bentley it kept its capital “B”, but leaned forward strongly and was painted already in accordance with the current Art Deco trend.
The slightly flared wings were not placed horizontally, but were raised up with the feathers pointing down.

On the edge! In cars with gearboxes and the so-called auxiliary drive, the letter “B” in the upper part was directed to the rear, which, referring to the technical characteristics of the car, changed the sculpture. This time the number of feathers in both wings of the statue was the same (20 on each side).

Fun fact! The new statue had to be turned back to its original position because its dimensions clashed with the bonnet panels when opened. Until the outbreak of World War II, there were no major changes.

Despite the difficulties (mainly financial), “Flying B” proudly displayed the unique technical characteristics of the cars (The Silent Sport Cars) from Crewe, which have been sold for a lot of money and with such charity. Post-war models (series MKVI-1946, S-1955, series T-1965) were also decorated with a large “B” (although it was slightly modified, more stylized and with feathers drawn in a close and horizontal position) .

A post-war model of Bentley and as usual the recognizable “Flying B”.

This continued until the early 1970s, when, due to the introduction of new technical safety regulations, the only sign of tradition remained, as at the beginning, only a badge on the grille. But is it true? Well no. As with RR, a moveable figure method that automatically retracts while driving was discovered.

Security requirements decided to hide the statue inside the car

In 2006 (models Azur, Arnage, Brooklands and Mulsane) “Flying B” returned, even in the original version of FG ​​Grosby, ie with an asymmetric arrangement of feathers, which apart from the basic version with 10 feathers can also be and 10. and 11.

In 2019, the 100th anniversary of the company Bentley Motors Ltd. however, a special and unique version of the statuette appeared Bentley.

A vision of Bemtlay’s landmark celebration. A hidden statue was also featured.

As a result of the announced competition, its winner Hoe Young Hwang proposed a style referring to the silent flight of an owl over the calm surface of a lake and its reflection in the water. You can think of a more convincing sign for such a unique car Bentley?

Photo: Bentley, author’s memory