The path to success in the early days of the auto industry was often engineering breakthroughs, as well as deep pockets and timing. Just ask Henry Ford. He struck out with his first two auto companies but hit gold with his third attempt.
Walter Owen Bentley, a passionate sportsman, mastered engineering as an apprentice on the railroads.
His aluminum pistons helped propel many British airplanes during World War I.
When he established Bentley Motors Ltd. in Cricklewood, North London, on Jan. 18, 1919, the new engine he envisioned was modern by 21st century standards — a four-cylinder with four valves per cylinder, overhead camshaft and twin spark ignition.
He was obsessed with making "a fast car, a good car: the best in its class."