The company, located at Cricklewood, north London, was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927-1930. The Great Depression destroyed demand for the company's expensive products, and it was sold off to Rolls-Royce in 1931.
The most notable car in the Rolls-Royce period was probably the Bentley Continental, which appeared in various forms from 1955 to 1965, and again in 1992. For more on the period 1931 to 1998, see Rolls-Royce.
In 1998, Rolls-Royce and Bentley Motors was purchased from Vickers (its owner since 1980) by Volkswagen for £430 million, after bidding against BMW. BMW had recently started supplying components for the new range of cars, notably V8 engines for the Bentley Arnage and V12 engines for the Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph. The Rolls-Royce name was not included in VW's purchase; it was instead licensed to BMW (for £40 million) by the Rolls-Royce aero engine company. BMW and VW came to an agreement whereby VW would manfacture both Bentley and Rolls-Royce cars until the end of 2002, whereupon the right to build Rolls-Royce cars would be BMW's alone. During this period, Volkswagen reduced its reliance on BMW as a supplier: as of 2003, BMW engines are not used in Bentley cars.
In 2001 Bentley returned to the Le Mans race with the Bentley EXP Speed 8. The car, an advanced sports-prototype, had a turbocharged V8 engine from sister company Audi. It gained 3rd place in 2001 and 4th place in 2002, both races being won by Audi, before Bentley won both 1st and 2nd places in 2003.
See also: List of automobiles
Bentley is also a place name.