Bentley Celebrate 75 Years Of Production At Crewe

Bentley MkV
Bentley MkV

Bentley is celebrating 75 years since the last car to be built in Derby rolled off the luxury production line before the dawn of the Crewe era in May 1946…

It was Bentley’s Mk VI that set the Crewe production line wheels in motion back in 1946, grasping the automotive baton from the much revered Mk V – the very last car to be built in Derby.

Fast forward 75 years of production and the luxurious Mk V is proudly showcased along Pyms Lane as the current generation Bentley models leave the more efficient production line at record levels.

Bentley MkV

During this 75 year period, 197,086 luxury cars – 97 per cent of Bentley’s entire production – have been handcrafted, an extraordinary milestone when considered that just 38,933 were built before modern day models such as the Continental GT and Bentayga were introduced from the turn of the century.

Testament to the marques quality, records show that 84 per cent of all cars built in Crewe for the UK market are still on the road today, with that number growing at unmatched levels. Bentley is currently building 85 cars per day; one month’s output, two decades ago.

Bentley Crewe
1980s production

Commenting on the significant achievement, Peter Bosch, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Manufacturing, said:
“For 75 years Crewe has been synonymous with luxury car manufacturing – a global showcase of craftsmanship and quality. In that time, our colleagues have produced some of the world’s most iconic and desirable products, including cars for global royalty and unique personal commissions.

“Beyond bricks and mortar, this milestone pays homage to the colleagues who have built our brand in Crewe, and I’d like to express my thanks and admiration for their dedication over three quarters of a century.

“With our most recent investment we have transformed our historic factory into a collaborative modern campus; a carbon-neutral, innovative, low environmental impact site that retains the best of our heritage while looking strongly to the future. In many factory areas, modern, digitised production systems complement traditional craftsmanship skills employed on our cars since 1946.

“As we cautiously emerge from the pandemic, we look forward to welcoming our customers back to Crewe to experience our unique factory and meet our colleagues in person.”

R-Type Continental
R-Type Continental

Although Bentley’s history dates back to 1919, Crewe became part of the luxury marque’s story in 1938; the Pyms Lane site transforming from potato fields to a significant manufacturing base for the Merlin aeroplane engines, a key pillar of the war efforts. Selected due to its strong transport links and ready supply of skilled labour, at peak in 1943, the Crewe factory employed over 10,000 colleagues.

With car production having ceased in the war years, the former home of the company in Derby was committed to building new-era jet engines in 1946, meaning a new location was required. Colleagues had to be retrained in techniques necessary for car manufacture, such as painting, anti-corrosion preparation, body mounting and woodwork.

Bentley Mk VI
1946 Bentley Mk VI

The Bentley Mark VI became the first car to be built entirely at Bentley’s Crewe works and the first to be offered with a pressed-steel body shell as standard. The 4.3-litre straight six engine used at launch was upgraded to a more powerful 4.6-litre unit in 1951. Coachbuilt cars were still available, but the Mark VI signalled the dawn of a new era in Bentley car production and became one of the marque’s biggest selling cars in history.

What followed prior to the modern era were many iconic models of their time produced in Crewe, including the R-Type Continental, Turbo R, Arnage and Azure.

Bentley Crewe
Bentley Crewe – 1950s engine production

Arguably the biggest change to Pyms Lane, Crewe, took place in 1998, following the acquisition of Bentley by the Volkswagen Group. The Group immediately invested significantly to modernise the factory and transformed the company into the one that exists today, creating a platform for an illustrious period in the history of Bentley Motors.

Pyms Lane has remained the focal point for Bentley’s headquarters in Crewe since the company arrived in 1938. What stands today are industry-leading facilities that are fully carbon neutral, the first luxury car brand to achieve such a feat.

Bentley Moving Forward

Like other marques, Bentley will move to full electrification – PHEV or BEV only – by 2026, then switch the entire model range to battery electric vehicles by 2030.

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1 Comment

  1. Congratulations to All the Teams at Crewe (Past and Present) on the 75th Anniversary of Bentley Production.
    Thirty years ago and a pupil on the Chauffeur’s Course at Crewe, Training was on the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit and Bentley Turbo R…. how could I not return to take the Advanced Driving Test and gain Membership? So humbly proud, Crewe for your keeping the wheels in motion!

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