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Bentley Motors Limited is a British manufacturer of luxury automobiles and Grand Tourers. Bentley Motors was founded in England on January 18, 1919 by Walter Owen Bentley, known as W.O. Bentley or just "W.O." (1888–1971). He was previously known for his successful range of rotary aero-engines in World War I, the most famous being the Bentley BR1 as used in later versions of the Sopwith Camel. Since 1998 the company has been owned by the Volkswagen Group.
Before World War I W.O. Bentley had been in partnership with his brother H.M. Bentley selling French D.F.P. cars but he had always wanted to design and build his own range of cars bearing his own name. In August 1919 Bentley Motors Ltd was registered and a chassis, with dummy engine, was exhibited at the London Motor Show in October that year. An engine was built and running by December and orders taken for deliveries starting in June 1920. However, development took longer than estimated and the first cars were not ready until September 1921.
The company was always underfunded and Bentley turned to millionaire Woolf Barnato for help in 1925. As part of a re-financing deal, leaving him effectively owning the company, Barnato became chairman. A great deal of Barnato's fortune was devoted to keeping Bentley afloat but the Great Depression destroyed demand for the company's expensive products, and it was finally sold to Rolls-Royce in 1931.