Bentley as a separate company
A group of wealthy British automobile aficionados known as the "Bentley Boys" (Woolf Barnato, heir to diamond mining magnate Barney Barnato, Sir Henry Birkin, George Duller, steeplechaser, Glen Kidston, aviator, S. C. H. "Sammy" Davis, automotive journalist, and Dr. Dudley Benjafield amongst them) kept the car's reputation for high performance alive. At one point, on a bet, Barnato raced Le Train Bleu from Cannes to Calais, then by ferry to Dover and finally London, travelling on public highways with normal traffic, and won; the special-bodied 6.5 L car became known as the Blue Train Bentley. Thanks to the dedication of this group to serious racing, the company, located at Cricklewood, north London, was noted for its four consecutive victories at the 24 hours of Le Mans from 1927 to 1930. Their greatest competitor at the time, Bugatti, whose lightweight, elegant, but fragile creations contrasted with the Bentley's rugged reliability and durability, referred to them as "the world's fastest lorries". Perhaps the most iconic Bentley of the period is the 4.5 L "Blower Bentley", with its distinctive supercharger projecting forward from the bottom of the grille. Uncharacteristically fragile for a Bentley, however, it was not the racing workhorse that the 6 L Bentley was. It became famous in the popular media as the vehicle of James Bond in the original novels, but not in any film; rather, John Steed in the television series The Avengers did drive a Bentley on-screen.
A great deal of Barnato's fortune went to keeping Bentley afloat after he had become chairman in 1925; but the Great Depression destroyed demand for the company's expensive products, and it was finally sold off to Rolls-Royce in 1931. It should be noted that Bentley was a very serious competitor to Rolls-Royce and that the 8 L Bentley was probably a better machine than anything Rolls-Royce at that time had to offer.
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