Bentley Motors Limited (/ˈbɛntli/) is a British luxury automaker, and a wholly owned subsidiary of the German company Volkswagen AG. Its principal activity is the design, engineering, manufacture, and distribution of luxury automobiles sold under the Bentley marque. Based in Crewe, England, Bentley Motors Limited was founded by W. O. Bentley on 18 January 1919 in Cricklewood near London and was acquired by Rolls-Royce in 1931.
Bentley Motors Limited is the direct successor of Rolls-Royce Motors, which Volkswagen AG purchased in 1998. The purchase included the vehicle designs, model nameplates, production and administrative facilities, the Spirit of Ecstasy and Rolls-Royce grille shape trademarks, but not the rights to the use of the Rolls-Royce name or logo, which are owned by Rolls-Royce Holdings plc and were later licensed to BMW AG.
Bentley vehicles are sold via franchised dealers worldwide, and as of November 2012, China was the largest individual market for Bentley automobiles. Most Bentley cars are assembled at the company's plant in Crewe, with a small number of Continental Flying Spurs assembled at the Transparent Factory in Dresden, Germany. Automobile bodies for the Continental model line are produced in Zwickau, Germany. Bentley cars are largely hand-built.
Bentley cars won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930 and 2003. The current Bentley production models are the Continental Flying Spur, Continental GT and Mulsanne. Notable former Bentley production models include the Bentley 4½ Litre, Bentley Speed Six, Bentley R Type Continental, Bentley Turbo R and Bentley Arnage.
By Dean Hanley
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