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Who owns Bentley Motor Company

Bentley Motors Ltd is a famous British Car Company which is now owned by Volkswagen of Germany. The origins of Bentley cars can be traced back to Bentley Motors which was established in 1919 by Mr. W. O. Bentley in Cricklewood near London. Bentley cars became world famous after it won the 24 Hour Le Mans race four times continuously from 1927 to 1930. The photo of the car that won the 1930 Le Mans 24 hours race is shown below.

Bentley car which won the 1930 Le Mans 24 hour endurance race
Bentley car winner 1930 Le Mans Race

But the great depression of world economies during the 1930's led to the bankruptcy of Bentley Motor Company. Rolls Royce finally bought Bentley Motors through an auction conducted by a court appointed receiver. Rolls-Royce closed the Bentley factory in Cricklewood in 1932 and shifted the production of Bentley cars to its own factory.

Rolls-Royce Car Company diversified into aero engine making during the 2nd world war and later into gas turbines and jet engines. In 1971 the Rolls-Royce Company was in deep financial crisis due to its involvement in the development of advanced jet engines and so it was nationalised by the British Government. A Rolls-Royce Car division producing Rolls-Royce and Bentley cars, was carved out as a separate Company called Rolls-Royce Motors and sold to the British Company Vickers in 1980. In 1998 Vickers sold Rolls-Royce Motors to Volkswagen of Germany for £430 million, which was much higher than BMW's bid of £340 million.

What was sold to Volkswagen was the Rolls Royce factory in England plus the right to use the shape of the Rolls Royce front grille and the Rolls-Royce "Spirit of Ecstasy", the flying lady statue which adorns the top of the front grill of all RollsRoyce cars. But the deal with Volkswagen did not include the 'Rolls-Royce' brand name and the RollsRoyce 'RR' Trade mark, since these were still owned by the original Rolls-Royce Company making jet engines, which had split off Rolls Royce Motors out of the group.

BMW bought the 'Rolls-Royce' brand name and logo for £40 million from the original Rolls-Royce Company now making jet engines. This led to a curious situation in which neither BMW nor Volkswagen could continue to make Rolls-Royce cars, because Volkswagen did not own the rights to the Rolls-Royce name and BMW could not produce a real Rolls-Royce car without the rights to the shape of the Rolls-Royce front grill and the all important Rolls-Royce feature: The "Spirit of Ecstasy", the statue of the flying lady sticking out of the top over the bonnet of any Rolls-Royce car.

Finally a deal was struck between Volkswagen and BMW, where it was agreed that Volkswagen would give up production of Rolls-Royce cars at the end of 2002 and continue to produce only Bentley cars in the original Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe which was renamed Bentley Motors Limited. Volkswagen spent over half a billion Pounds Sterling to modernise the Crewe factory and increased production of Bentley cars. China is now one of the biggest markets for Bentley cars from Volkswagen.


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