Bentley turns 100: the marque celebrates a century of design with a futuristic film
Reaching a centenary is a big milestone for any company, but auto brands have more reason to celebrate than most. The dizzying pace of technological change in the industry means that brands and models die, identities and images shift and evolve over time, and the technical bar gets ever higher. Bentley has been nothing if not consistent throughout its history. Founded on 10 July 1919, the British marque is now gearing up for a year’s worth of centenary celebrations, culminating, we suspect, in a brace of new models and concepts that the company hopes will take it forward for another 100 years.
Walter Owen Bentley always had high hopes for his automotive endeavours, fusing luxury with velocity, endurance with craft, all wrapped up in muscular bodywork that conveyed an imperious sense of grandeur. Bentley has held on to this image through thick and thin, surviving a link-up with Rolls-Royce that first saved then side-lined the marque, before ultimately entering a new era of prosperity under the stewardship of the VW Group. Today, the company employs around 4,000 people in Crewe and the newest Continental GT is once again at the top of its class, with the promise of more exciting things to come, not least in the much-vaunted sphere of electrified luxury.
The company’s centenary year has now been launched with a new brand film, lovingly assembled from all manner of modern techniques as a way of bringing the past to life. Actors were scanned, CGI was deployed to create sculptural metallic renderings of both people and cars, while cutting-edge animation techniques were used to evoke the fluid, faceted craftsmanship that Bentley ekes out of its interiors and surfaces. Production was handled by The Mill, the hugely successful visual effects company, with ALEXA Mini 4k cameras from ARRI used to capture all the moves and data. There is a hefty dose of handiwork on display; archive images from the glory days of inter-war racing were etched onto metal by hand to be used as key elements of the film. As 2019 progresses, expect to hear a whole lot more from Bentley about the next hundred years could play out. §