The engine is the heart of a car. It pushes the energy to make an inanimate object live, talking, breathing and doing feats. The Engine is a special part of the vehicle and plays a defining role in the character of a car. Bentleys have been known for their performance oriented luxury. One of the main ingredients of what makes a Bentley one is its engine. This year, bentley is celebrating 60 years of continuous production of their 6-3/4 litre V-8 engine. Though the technology and the characteristics of the engine have undergone sweeping changes, the basic principle and dimensions, as well the process of manufacturing them has remained constant for the last 60 years. Yes, as in 1959, these V8’s are still hand built in Crewe over a period of 15 hours. A version of this engine still does service in the Bentley Mulsanne.
The first V8 engine was introduced by Bentley in the S2 in 1959. This engine replaced the biggest engine on offer in a Bentley then, a V6. The V8 was designed by Jack Phillips, Senior Engine Designer at the company. The brief given to him was to develop an engine which produced 50% more power than the existing V6, occupied the same space and was not heavier than the outgoing engine. The dedicated team at Bentley could deliver the first prototype within 18 months. This engine met all the requirements and weighed 30 lbs less than the outgoing V6. Thereafter, it was tested over hundreds of thousands of miles in the most exacting conditions including 500 hours at full throttle. This engine displaced 6.2 litres and powered the S2 which offered such technological marvels at the time like, air conditioning, power steering, electrically-operated ride control and press button window lifts.
Changes in the design philosophy leading to a lower bonnet and progressive government regulations regarding pedestrian safety led to several changes in the engine including and increase in displacement to 6-3/4 litres and collapsible cooling pumps. The quest for more power led to installation of first one and then twin turbochargers along with intercoolers. This was the first time Bentley was offering a forced induction after the legendary Blowers from the 1920s. Better breathing requirements and emission control requirements led to inclusion of fuel injection, variable valve timing and cylinder deactivation. As a result of these improvements, the fuel efficiency and power of the engine kept increasing.
Today, the 6-3/4 litre engine in the Mulsanne produces 530 BHP of power, which is 200% more than the power produced by the S2. It generated 1,100 N-m of torque leading to a 0-100 km/h acceleration of sports car rivaling 4.9 seconds and a top speed of 305 km/h.