For most of us, the names Bentley and Rolls-Royce are forever linked to each other, and for good reason: for many years, these cars were practically identical, sharing almost everything except a badge and a name, but it was not always so. In fact, the last independent car produced by Bentley, the 1930 Bentley 8L was so good that Rolls-Royce maneuvered behind the scenes to purchase the company, stealing it away from a union with Napier. One of their first moves as new owners was to kill of the Bentley 8L, which was seen (with good reason) as a frightening challenger to Rolls-Royce cars. The 8L was offered in a choice of two wheelbases (long and short), and a rolling chassis was delivered to the coach-builder of your choice. It was also incredibly innovative, including servo-assisted brakes.
One of the most incredible features of the Bentley 8L was its engine, and its treasure trove of technological innovation. The 8-liter, straight six engine featured twin-spark ignition and four valves per cylinder, when such things were still considered mostly beyond reach. It was fast, too: the Bentley 8L could reach a top speed of over 100 miles per hour, and that’s with the biggest, heaviest limousine coach-work. Others were undoubtedly faster.
Few of these wonderful automobiles were ever made – only about 100, and production ceased in 1931 – however, thanks to their incredible cachet and superior build quality, many of the Bentley 8L that were built still exist today, unfortunately out of reach of all but those with the very deepest pockets!