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- First Drive 2016 Bentley Mulsanne Speed by Henny Hemmes
Bentley Motors Limited is an English manufacturer of luxury automobiles and Grand Tourers. Bentley Motors was founded in England on 18 January 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley, known as W.O. Bentley or just "W.O." He was previously known for his successful range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel. Since 1998 the company has been owned by the Volkswagen Group (Volkswagen AG) (VWAG) of Germany.
In 2002, Bentley presented Queen Elizabeth II with an official State Limousine to celebrate the Golden Jubilee. In 2003, Bentley's 2-door convertible, the Bentley Azure, ceased production, and the company introduced the Bentley Continental GT, a large luxury coupe. The car is powered by a version of VW's W-12 engine.
Demand had been so great that the factory at Crewe, Cheshire, was unable to meet orders despite an installed capacity of approximately 9500 vehicles per year. There was a waiting list of over a year for new cars to be delivered. Consequently, production of the new Flying Spur, a four-door version of the Continental GT, was assigned to the Transparent Factory, where the VW Phaeton luxury car is also assembled. This arrangement ceased at the end of 2006, and all car production reverted to the Crewe plant.
In April 2005, Bentley confirmed plans to produce a 4-seat convertible model, the Azure, derived from the Arnage Drophead Coupe prototype, at Crewe beginning in 2006. By the autumn of 2005, the convertible version of the successful Continental GT, the Continental GTC was also presented. These two models were successfully launched in late 2006.
Bentley sales continued to increase and in 2005 were 8,627 sold worldwide, 3,654 of which were sold in the United States. In 2007, with sales of 10,014, the 10,000 cars per year threshold was broken for the first time in the company's history. For 2007 a record profit of 155 million was also announced.