Rolls-Royce have only ever made one concession to
badge engineering, keeping the legendary Bentley name
The Bentley “T” saloon was identical
to the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II, apart from the
distinctive radiator and badges.
were very much in the majority for the 3500 cars a
year being manufactured at the company's Crewe factory
in Cheshire, England in the early 1980’s. But
demand for the Bentley was sufficient to ensure it
was kept in production.
The reasons why a small percentage
of buyers preferred a Bentley to a Rolls-Royce are
rather obscure. Obverse snobbery is one of them, insofar
as the Bentley is more exclusive than the Rolls-Royce.
Sentimentality is another, especially among British
buyers conscious of the enormous prestige Bentley's
motor racing exploits brought to Britain in the 1920's.
This link with the past obviously gave owners a great
sense of satisfaction. Perhaps a third reason is that
some owners considered the Bentley less ostentatious
than the Rolls-Royce.
The original Bentley company was
founded by W.O. Bentley, and produced a total of 3037
cars from 1919 to 1931. Many have survived and are
among the most coveted thoroughbred vintage cars around,
commanding high prices whenever they change hands.
Ettore Bugatti, the Italian-born master craftsman of
pre 1931 vintage racing cars, once caustically described
the big thundering Bentleys as 'the world's finest
lorries'. But they won the French Le Mans twenty-four-hour
sports car classic no fewer than five times: in 1924
and four successive victories from 1927. Bentleys also
won innumerable races and hill climbs in this era and
featured in some notable record-breaking. But then
you would know that if you read the Lost Marques: Bentley
Bentley’s had always been hand-built, regardless of time, effort,
and with almost fanatical disregard for financial constraint.
But Bentley, like so many other manufacturers, failed
to survive the financial hardships of the early Depression
years and lapsed into liquidation in 1931, to be quickly
taken over by former arch-rivals Rolls-Royce, who thwarted
ownership aspirations by Napier, another illustrious
company which specialised in high performance cars
for wealthy enthusiasts.
The outward appearance of a Bentley T is slightly more
dynamic because the bonnet design is a few centimeters
lower and the radiator shell shape, with its rounded
edges, is smoother and more streamlined. In addition,
the badging on wheel covers, boot lid and gauges featured
Bentley motifs rather than Rolls-Royce ones. The upgraded
T2 featured rack and pinion steering, improved air
conditioning, a new facia and a front air dam.
Rolls-Royce maintained the
Bentley image for some time by offering a variety of
special-bodied versions but the need for rationalisation
because of rising manufacturing costs finally led to
Rolls-Royce limiting the availability of the Bentley
to the T2 and the two-door Corniche, in coupe and drophead-coupe
models. They were, of course, luxury cars par excellence
with superb appointments and an impressive range of
driving aids. Many today overlook these wonderful cars
as collectable classics for fear of exorbitant running
That is their loss, for these are wonderful
cars, and nothing really matches them for ride comfort
and quality. If the guttural sound of a pumping V8
is your thing, then this is certainly not the car for
you. But if your looking for quality, class and comfort,
get much better than a T Series Bentley.
The T1 was made from 1967-1977 and the T2 was made
Production figures are:
- T1: 1868
- T1 saloon (1965-1977): 1703
- T1 long wheelbase (1971-1976):
- T1 two door saloon (1966-1971): 114 (15 by
- T1 coupé by Pininfarina (1968):
- T1 convertible (1967-1971): 41
- T2: 568
- T2 (1977-1980): 558
- T2 long wheelbase (1977-1980): 10