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Bentley’s dozen – Part two

4 weeks ago

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Writer:

Dr Ulrich Eichhorn | Engineer

Date:

28 June 2024

In an elaborate concept selection process, it was decided that the first new generation of Bentleys under Volkswagen Group stewardship would exclusively get the group’s top engine: the W12. To make it even more special and to deliver the traditional Bentley wave of torque, a twin-turbo version would be developed specifically for it, which would remain exclusive to Bentley through its lifetime, save for some non-production one-offs.

A state-of-the-art manufacturing facility was installed in the Crewe factory initially for the Bentley W12 and over time also making all the W12s for the Audi A8 and Volkswagen Phaeton. In an historically somewhat bizarre twist of events, 12-cylinder production had come home to Crewe. For it is to be remembered that the Pyms Lane factory had originally been built just before World War Two to make the V12 Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that powered the Spitfires, Hurricanes and many other British and Allied fighter planes as well as twin-engine fighter bombers (the De Havilland Mosquito) and, of course, the mighty four-engine Lancaster bomber.

An oil painting of the first dogfight in the Battle of Britain between a Messerschmitt Bf109 and a Supermarine Spitfire used to hang in the entrance hall of the main building in Crewe. When Vickers, then the owner of Rolls-Royce & Bentley Motor Cars Ltd wisely decided to put the company up for sale and it emerged that all three big German car makers were among the interested parties, someone got worried that this might hurt the Germans’ feelings (as if we had any) and so the painting was duly hidden away. After Volkswagen had won the ‘Battle for Bentley’ we discovered the painting and insisted on it being shown again. Not just for its historic relevance, but also because the Messerschmitt was powered by a Daimler DB 601 V12 engine and it was always our goal to beat Mercedes in a fair fight…

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