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Car of the Month

More on Bentley in these books:

Rossfeldt: Rolls-Royce and Bentley




Car of the Month - April 2021
Bentley Exp Speed 8, 2001
Return to "Le Mans 24 hours"

Bentley EXP Speed 8

The year 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of Bentley Motors' return to Le Mans. After seven decades of abstinence Bentley’s name was entered into the starter list of the '24 Hours of Le Mans'. 20 years have passed since and obviously activities to celebrate that anniversary are almost nil on what had been a considerably risky affair for the English manufacturer – which ended as an impressive success. When from two registered vehicles, one made it to the finish in 2001, achieved 1st place in its class and an impressive 3rd position in the overall ranking a famous English poet could be cited "All is well that ends well".

Some details can be found on this website:  In addition, another Bentley EXP Speed ​​8 was treated as "Car of the Month August 2002".

Bentley EXP Speed 8

Insiders had already been gained the status of cognoscenti during second half of 2000, when they became informed about Bentley's interest of actively entering international motor sport. On the occasion of the opening of a new European headquarters of Bentley Motors in Berlin, a model (in fairly large scale) for the brand's return on the Sarthe circuit was shown with added info that construction had already started.  That step to a certain degree was dictated by the fact of Bentley's annual sales figures of around 1,500 units were insufficient. Since the takeover by the Volkswagen Group, the Board of Management had specified the brand should achieve to find customers for 9,000+ vehicles per year. This ambition could only be achieved by expanding the range of models and significantly sharpening the profile.

Bentley Exp Speed 8 Modell

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One side of the coin has been, it made sense to remember the successes when Bentley drivers crossed the finish line as the winner five times at the prestigious event in France in the 1920s and 1930s. Albeit the other side of the coin was, the project was high risk because of a great many imponderables; with regard to the course of a tremendously demanding race and the high-calibre competition in that 24 hours endurance test. In addition, there was no reliable data whether and to what extent the victories from decades ago still had any echo and effect. Under the wings of a huge global player, Bentley could to rely on synergy effects, e.g. as regards the power-plant. A well-proven unit from Audi could be taken over and that was carefully optimized to comply exactly with the characteristics of the new Bentley sports car.

Fast forward: After taking the first step in 2001, Bentley also took part in the race in France in 2002 – and gained the pinnacle in 2003: achieving overall victory in the '24 Hours of Le Mans'. Since then, Bentley has successfully occupied a considerable segment in the market of luxurious sports cars, with sales figures higher than those specified at initially, and is engaged in various racing series around the globe. A key factor for the 'turn around' as regards the fate of the brand have been the activities that 20 years ago identified the 'new' Bentley competition cars as being equivalent to those legendary cars that were driven by the 'Bentley Boys' about a century ago.

Bentley Le Mans Team

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