Two months from now, July 2019 to be precise, Bentley will mark its 100th year of building unique, inspiring automobiles. Yes, it’s been that long since Walter Owen Bentley pulled the first car to bear his own name out of New Street Mews in London in 1919, the same year my mother was born. W.O., as he became known, was outspoken in his disdain for motorcars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, dismissing them all as overly loud, crudely executed and cobbled together from cheap materials. The cars this former railway man went on to create have always embraced Bentley, the man’s, opposite view: That they should be supremely comfortable, fast and elegant.
Among many other activities marking its centenary this summer, Bentley has remained faithful to its roots, regardless of having been acquired by Volkswagen AG in 1998 and the shocking step of adding an SUV to its model lineup. One of the special celebrations has been the announcement of a very limited run of the marque’s signature sedan, the Mulsanne, in a new W.O. edition with coachwork by in-house body fabricator Mulliner. This studio image shows the Mulsanne W.O. Edition posed alongside the 8.0-liter sedan that was the last car W.O., who died in 1971, personally designed and built. Only 100 examples of the W.O. Edition will be produced for the global market. Each one will be fitted with individualized engineering pieces taken directly from the 1930 8.0-liter, with no two of the W.O. Editions being exactly the same. For pricing and other data, see the extensive Bentley website; we’ll look at some more Bentley milestones as the big birthday approaches.