1924 Bentley Twin Turbo
March 2, 2008 9:00 PM
Walter Owen Bentley, known primarily as W.O., began his career as a British railway engineering apprentice with a penchant for racing motorcycles. In 1912, Bentley and his brother H.M. formed a company named Bentley and Bentley to sell French DFP cars. Unsatisfied with the car’s performance, W.O. employed aluminum, then a revolutionary material, to redesign their pistons, and soon broke several records on the race track. These lightweight pistons were to become one of the secret ingredients of Bentley’s future success, but the advent of the Great War delayed his plans. Accepting a government commission to power the Sopwith Camel, Bentley design two aircraft engines, which were credited with Allied dominance of the sky. In his later years, Bentley would admit that no other accomplishment had given him greater pride.
The roaring twenties was Bentley’s decade of glory and great adventure, and the earsplitting roar of his cars became synonymous with the devil-may-care attitude of that time. After the war, W.O. founded his own company, Bentley Motors, to live his dream of building a car that would satisfy his own expectations. Produced to compete with Bentley’s arch-rival, Rolls Royce, the 8-liter was introduced to the public at the London Motor Show of 1930, and was heralded as one of the finest automobiles ever. Sadly, W.O.’s business acumen wasn’t on par with his engineering abilities, and he would only produce 100 8-liters before bankruptcy forced him to sell his company to Rolls Royce. According to legend, Rolls was so afraid of the Bentley 8-liter engine’s superiority to their own, they broke up its molds.
After tracking down five 8-liter Bentley motors, Jay decided to build his very own British hot rod, in the spirit of W.O.’s Bentley Boys. He took the smallest 3-liter chassis he could find, and stuffed the mighty 8-liter engine into it, adding twin turbo chargers. In order to keep this antique roadworthy, Jay updated the filtration system, added a secondary radiator, and switched out the Bentley’s cable brakes for hydraulics. Now, Jay claims the car is about as fast as a brand new stock Corvette C6. Maybe that’s because this 3-liter’s original Wyman body, made of wood, rubber and leatherette fabric is so incredibly lightweight that Jay can lift the whole thing by himself.