On this day in auto history - August 13th

Fri 13th Aug 2021

It was on this day in 1971 that world renowned British engineer Walter Owen Bentley passed away at the age of 82.

Commonly known as “W.O” such was his fame, Bentley - born into a wealthy family in Hampstead - designed car engines, aircrafts, locomotives and motorcycles during his distinguished career but is best remembered for founding Bentley Motors with his brother Horace in 1919.

Working out of small premises in Cricklewood, north London, Bentley Motors originally specialised in producing high quality sporting tourers and enjoyed plenty of success on the racing circuit but the company ran into financial difficulties after the 1929 Wall Street Crash and was purchased by Rolls-Royce in 1931.

Frustrated by his reduced role at Rolls-Royce, ‘W.O’ left as soon as his contract expired in 1935 and went to work as a technical director for another luxury British marque, Lagonda, prior to its acquisition by Aston Martin in 1947 before joining Armstrong Siddeley where he worked until his retirement in the mid-1950’s.

W.O Bentley was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame in 1995 and - such was his reputation - the Bentley vehicles he designed in his own name prior to the Rolls-Royce takeover remain some of the most sought-after classic cars in the world, regularly changing hands for millions of pounds.