When the output of Bentley, the esteemed icon of British motoring history, is mentioned in conjunction with a six-figure number, the likely topic under discussion is usually the retail price. Or given some the people who buy these automobiles, perhaps it’s more likely never discussed at all. We all know that throughout its century of existence, the two heaviest tools in Bentley’s kit have always been excellence and exclusivity. It’s a game plan that never gets old, or dodders into ineffectiveness. Here’s your proof.
Bentley marked the exit of March by seeing its 200,000th vehicle roll down the production line at Crewe, fittingly being something that clearly bespeaks the marque’s next 100 years. The benchmark build was a new, all-electric Bentley Bentayga SUV, now just coming into the model lineup. After 101 years, production at Crewe is more brisk than it was when W.O. Bentley started out, now averaging 85 units today, an impressive number when you consider that about 75 percent of the Bentley assembly process still involves artisan hand labor. The image demonstrate that Bentley knew how to properly mark the milestone. The other vehicle is EXP 2, the oldest Bentley in existence, the second running prototype that W.O. built at the then-new Cricklewood works. Constructed in 1919, it originally was powered by Bentley’s first 3.0-liter straight-six, with an aluminum block, non-detachable cast-iron SOHC cylinder head and four valves per cylinder, all in line with cutting edge Henry-Ballot-Miller-Peugeot racing engine design of era. Re-powered by a spare TT engine, EXP 2 captured Bentley’s first works win in 1921, fittingly at Brooklands.