100 years on, and the automaker has a mega legacy.
Bentley is one of the world's foremost luxury automakers, and everything it produces these days is spectacular. We recently got to drive the new Continental GT Speed, and it's fantastic. If you've got an even bigger budget, you can get a special edition like a Bacalar, but in the old days, pretty much every car was a special edition, at least until Bentley opened its own design house 70 years ago. The luxury British marque has a lot of changes to make now as it looks to a cleaner future, but it has a rich heritage worth revisiting too. With that in mind, Bentley is looking back to its first-ever customer car and the man who bought it a hundred years ago.
That car was a Bentley 3-Litre and was bought by a racing enthusiast by the name of Noel van Raalte in 1921. The car was registered in the UK under code KS 1661 and had previously been tested by The Autocar magazine a year earlier. Chassis No. 1 came with lightweight aluminum coachwork with brass brightwork and cost just £1,150. Of course, inflation and other factors mean that this figure from a century ago would have been a heftier sum than it first seems. Interestingly, the honor of being the first to actually take delivery goes to Ivor Llewellyn, who ended up buying three examples of the 3-Litre. His first car was the third production chassis and still exists today as the oldest surviving non-experimental Bentley in the world.
Back to van Raalte, and Bentley found a great customer who loved the brand and its product. He gave a glowing review to The Autocar after collecting his new machine: "The reason I bought a Bentley was because of its exceptional performance in all respects of the road. Such features as steering, suspension, holding the road, brakes, change speed, and engine efficiency leave nothing to be desired and are, in my opinion, to be found to a higher degree in this make of car than any other of the many makes I have owned or used." That sort of attention to detail and obsession with excellence still shines through today, and we hope Bentley gets at least another century to show off what it can do.