Bentley’s ‘Great Eight’ ends production

The final example of Bentley’s long-serving 6.75-litre V8 engine has left the production line at the firm’s factory in Crewe, UK.

The V8 is the longest serving such design in continuous production in history, with 36,000 units produced over the last 61 years.

The engine will be used to power the 30th and final Bentley Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner, the limited-edition series which closes Mulsanne production. 

The mighty Bentley 6¾-litre V8 engine – the longest serving V8 design in continuous production – reached the end of its handcrafted manufacturing run in late-May. The final engine was assembled in Crewe, UK, by a dedicated team of seven people, who between them have a combined experience of 105 years building Bentley’s long-serving V8 engine. 

In production for more than 60 years, and with the same configuration and bore spacing as the very first version from 1959, the last L-Series engine will spend its life powering the 30th and last specially commissioned Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner 

The bespoke series also serves as a final chapter in the Mulsanne’s production run, and celebrates the life of the powerful engine with a myriad of V8-inspired details including badging, blueprint graphics and even ventilation “organ stops” featuring a miniature version of the oil cap. 

Originally designed by a team of Bentley engineers to deliver a step change in performance over the straight six it replaced, the L-Series V8 first saw service in the 1959 Bentley S2 – developing around 180hp, deemed “adequate” by Bentley at the time.  

The development of the first Bentley V8 engine began in the early 1950s, Jack Phillips, Senior Engine Designer, was asked to undertake a confidential study to find a replacement for the six-cylinder engine used in the Bentley Mark VI, R-Type and S1. 

His brief was to build an engine that was at least 50% more powerful than the six-cylinder it would eventually replace, while occupying the same space under a bonnet with no increase in weight. A ‘V’ configuration was the natural choice and it is a testament to Phillips and his team that the engine ran just 18 months after the start of the design process. 

Since that time, the modern descendant of the original engine has evolved into something truly extraordinary, thanks to continual design improvements as well as the advent of turbocharging (first single, then twin), electronic control systems, fuel injection and variable valve timing.  

Developing 530hp for the Mulsanne Speed, together with an astonishing 1,100Nm of torque, the low-revving engine delivers a unique character that defined the widely recognised “wave of torque” that all Bentleys now boast. At the same time, emissions have been drastically reduced, with the modern engine producing 99% fewer harmful emissions than its forebear. 

Every one of the 36,000 L-Series engines built over the last 60 years has been created by hand in the engine workshops of Bentley’s Crewe headquarters. Even the modern engine takes 15 hours to build, and the key internal components are individually chosen to form a matching, balanced set so that the engine runs perfectly smoothly – a skill that takes years to perfect. Once completed, and after thorough testing, the engine is signed off by one of Bentley’s engine specialists, as it has been for decades – with a plate denoting their signature affixed to the front of the engine. 

With the Mulsanne completing production once the thirty 6.75 Edition cars are built, the all-new Flying Spur will become Bentley’s flagship model, as the pinnacle of Bentley’s exquisite range of luxurious cars.  

With the Flying Spur to receive a hybrid powertrain by 2023, the move symbolises Bentley’s commitment to change and its journey to define the future of sustainable luxury mobility. The world’s most sought-after luxury car brand has already taken its first step on the road towards electrification with the launch of the Bentayga Hybrid - the luxury SUV sector’s first, true plug-in hybrid and the most efficient Bentley ever. 

The engine now reaches the end of its development and production run but will live on for decades to come in the cars beloved by Bentley’s customers. 

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