60 Years of Bentley V8

In 1959, Bentley presented the S2, a further development of the S1 produced jointly with Rolls-Royce, where it was called the Silver Cloud. The newer version only had slight optical differences. The main changes took place on the technical level. Thus the S2 received a clearly improved air conditioning and besides that for the first time in the brand history a V8 engine. Shortly after moving to the new headquarters in Crewe the go-ahead was given for this new engine project. The V8 design was chosen at the time in order to be able to offer around 50 percent more performance in conjunction with silky smooth engine running – while taking up the same amount of space under the hood and weighing as little as possible. Just 18 months after works started, the first engine was running on the test bench. However, before the previously used inline six-cylinder engine was retired, the new design had to undergo various tests. Built into inconspicuous prototypes, the V8 covered several hundred thousand kilometers plus a total of 500 hours in full throttle operation on test benches. The test engines were then dismantled to ensure that no components were damaged. During this time, the engine engineers also ensured the desired silky smoothness and the ‘torque wave’ that is still familiar with Bentley models today and on which the new top-of-the-line model could be moved forward.

In the Bentley S2, the V8 engine made its debut with a displacement of 6.2 liters and weight 14 kilograms lighter than the six-cylinder engine of the S1. For the following T-Series models from 1965 onwards, the V8 received an extensive overhaul with smaller dimensions and more power. From 1971 the displacement was increased from 91 to 99 millimeters to the current 6¾ Litre engine (6.75 liters), which also increased the torque. In 1980, with the introduction of the first Mulsanne, a further extensive modification of the V8 followed, which was adapted to stricter emission limits and required standards for occupant safety. Two years later, the Mulsanne Turbo with a single Garrett turbocharger made its debut as the new top version. New models with two turbochargers followed later. The output of the 6.75 liter engine in the current Mulsanne Speed is now 395 kW/537 hp and a massive 1,100 newtonmeters of torque.

Every single V8 engine is handmade in Crewe. A single employee produces one engine in about 15 working hours. For this, the specially trained engine builders select the internal components carefully in order to create the most balanced possible assembly. After completion, each unit runs on the test bench and isn’t approved by an engine specialist until these tests have been successfully completed. Then a signed sticker is affixed. Over the past 60 years, this V8 engine has been used in 23 different Bentley models and has been produced almost 36,000 times to date. In the current Mulsanne Speed, it ensures that up to four people can accelerate to 100 kph (62 mph) in 4.9 seconds and reach a topspeed of 305 kph (189.5 mph). Unimaginable values back in 1959. Since 2012, Bentley has also been offering a four-liter V8 biturbo engine in the smaller Continental GT as well as in the Flying Spur and Bentayga, although this is to be understood as an entry-level engine there.

Images: Bentley