Bentley Motors marks 75 years of car production from the luxury marque’s iconic factory in Crewe, England. The revered Mk V, the very last car to be built in Derby before the dawn of the Crewe era in May 1946, today stood proudly on display along Pyms Lane as the current generation Bentley models rolled off the production line at record levels.
During this 75 year period, 197,086 luxury cars – 97 percent of Bentley’s entire production – have been handcrafted, an extraordinary milestone when considered that just 38,933 were built before modern-day models such as the Continental GT and Bentayga were introduced from the turn of the century.
Although Bentley’s history dates back to 1919, Crewe became part of the luxury marque’s story in 1938; the Pyms Lane site transforming from potato fields to a significant manufacturing base for the Merlin airplane engines, a key pillar of the war efforts. Selected due to its strong transport links and a ready supply of skilled labor, at its peak in 1943, the Crewe factory employed over 10,000 colleagues.
The Bentley Mark VI became the first car to be built entirely at Bentley’s Crewe works and the first to be offered with a pressed-steel body shell as standard. The 4.3-liter straight-six engine used at launch was upgraded to a more powerful 4.6-liter unit in 1951. Coachbuilt cars were still available, but the Mark VI signaled the dawn of a new era in Bentley car production and became one of the marque’s biggest selling cars in history.
What followed prior to the modern era were many iconic models of their time produced in Crewe, including the R-Type Continental, Turbo R, Arnage, and Azure.
Arguably the biggest change to Pyms Lane, Crewe, took place in 1998, following the acquisition of Bentley by the Volkswagen Group. The Group immediately invested significantly to modernize the factory and transformed the company into the one that exists today, creating a platform for an illustrious period in the history of Bentley Motors.
Pyms Lane has remained the focal point for Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe since the company arrived in 1938. What stands today are industry-leading facilities that are fully carbon neutral, the first luxury car brand to achieve such a feat.
The ambitious plans Bentley has for car production were outlined as part of its ground-breaking Beyond100 strategy. The company aims to be end-to-end carbon neutral by 2030, with the Crewe factory climate positive thereafter.