The 8 Litre was the largest and most luxurious Bentley car made prior to the purchase of the marque by Rolls-Royce. It used a massive 8-litre (7983 cc/ 487 cubic-inch) straight-6 engine and rode on a long 144 inch (3658 mm) or longer 156-inch (3962 mm) wheelbase, making it the largest car produced in the United Kingdom up to that time.
The car was conceived similarly to the Bugatti Royale - as a halo car to vault the maker into position as the supreme manufacturer of luxury cars in the world. However, like the Bugatti, the 8 Litre Bentley failed to sell in sufficient numbers to make a profit.
Just as the Great Depression was starting to affect Europe, Bentley unveiled the 8-Litre, its finest and most expensive model, at the 1930 London Auto Show. Set on either a 12- or 13-foot wheelbase, the 8 Litre was practically a yacht. It had a massive frame supported by tubular cross-members, and it weighed two tons. The six-cylinder engine displaced eight liters. The 8-Litre was as advanced as any existing Rolls-Royce and was faster than any Rolls-Royce built before World War II. Many of the 100 produced still survive, although usually in modified form. Poor sales helped put the company into receivership in 1931, and some say that Rolls-Royce bought Bentley just to eliminate the competition from the 8-Litre. Rolls-Royce did, in fact, dispose of all 8-Litre spare parts after taking over the company.
The six-cylinder engine used a one-piece iron block and cylinder head with an electron crankcase. Four valves per cylinder were specified, as was twin-spark ignition - both were state of the art at the time. The bore was 110 mm (4.3 inches) and the stroke was 140 mm (5.5-inches). A four-speed manual transmission with a single-plate dry clutch sent power to the rear wheels. Springs were used all around, and 4-wheel servo-assisted brakes were also fitted.
by Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2019
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