The straight-six engine used a one-piece iron block and a non-detachable cylinder head with a crankcase made from Elektron, which is made of magnesium alloy. The engine had a bore of 110 mm and a stroke of 140 mm giving a capacity of 7,983 cc Pistons were of an aluminum alloy.

Today the new Bentley company is rediscovering its identity by gathering its history to itself. After three decades or more in the same hands, WO’s 8-litre now belongs to the firm which makes the magnificent Continental GT, a car which is a long way from the archetypal rough-riding open 4½, but very close in spirit to this one.

I had the chance to inspect it before it went off for restoration, and that is how we have chosen to photograph it: a little tired, slightly down at one corner, traces of rust on the painted green spokes. For this 8-liter is in remarkable, original, condition. These are the very seats on which WO sat, the same doors he pulled shut, the same starter button he thumbed before heading down the A2 for Dover.

The second production chassis, this was the first definitive 8-liter and was the car the firm loaned to magazines for road tests – a car that had a huge impact on the car world. “Motoring in its very highest form,” The Autocar called it. Now that a Cricklewood Bentley is a hobby vehicle and not a means of transport we are used to these huge limousines being turned into Le Mans lookalikes, or seeing the massive engines transplanted into lighter 3- or 4½–liter chassis to go racing.


Bore × Stroke110 × 140 mm 4.33 × 5.51 in
Bore/stroke ratio0.79
Valve gearSingle overhead camshaft (SOHC) 2 valves per
cylinder 12 valves in total
Maximum power output203 PS (200 bhp ) (149 kW ) at 3500 Rpm