Bentley 8 Litre

The 8 Litre was the largest and most luxurious Bentley luxury car designed and the last new model made by W O Bentley at Bentley Motors Limited in Cricklewood London prior to the purchase of W O 's business by Rolls-Royce to wipe out its competition for their Phantom II. It used a massive 8 L (7983 cc/487 in³) straight-6 engine and rode on a long 144 in (3658 mm) or longer 156 in (3962 mm) wheelbase, making it the largest car produced in the United Kingdom up to that time.

The car was conceived — like the Bugatti Royale — as a halo car to vault the maker into position as the supreme maker of luxury cars in the world. Launched at the London Olympia Motor Show in October 1930, twelve months after the onset of the great depression hit the world, like the Bugatti Royale, of which just three were sold, the 8 Litre Bentley failed to sell in sufficient numbers to make a profit though a hundred were made and sold. The chassis was priced at £1,850, making it an exclusive and pricey vehicle.

The six-cylinder engine used a one-piece iron block and cylinder head with a crankcase made from an exotic magnesium alloy called Elektron. The cylinder head featured four valves per cylinder, as well as twin-spark ignition; both were state-of-the-art at the time. The bore was 110 mm (4.3 in) and the stroke was 140 mm (5.5 in). The manufacturer claimed a maximum speed of approximately 125 mph (200 km/h).

A four-speed manual transmission with a single-plate dry clutch sent power to the rear wheels. Semi-elliptical springs were used all around, and 4-wheel servo-assisted drum brakes were also specified.

Only 100 of these cars were produced: 35 were on a 145-inch (3,700 mm) wheelbase and 65 were on a 153-inch (3,900 mm) wheelbase; fewer than 25% were fitted with open bodies. It is suggested that the cost of the development of the car was a prime reason for Bentley Motors going bankrupt. When Rolls-Royce bought the company in 1931, it immediately disposed of all 8-Liter spare parts.

As a result of their rarity, they are much sought after by collectors: it is believed presently that only 78 chassis survive. Only one had an all-metal body from the outset, completed by the W.M. Murphy Company of Pasadena for a customer in San Diego, which made it the only American bodied car. Two were modified by McKenzie, who modified the engines and lowered the chassis; one was recently sold by a London dealer, and the other is believed to be in India.

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