WOOD SHOP Bentleys are known for their fabulous hand-finished wood veneers, which can be ordered in a vast array of custom finishes, some of which are on display in the commissioning center.
WOOD SHOP Wood from the three-foot-diameter root-ball of an 80-some-year-old tree is shaved to about the thickness of good quality art paper (0.6mm). Some manufacturers laminate this to the aluminum substrate directly, but that doesnít give the touch and feel of thick wood apropos of a Bentley, so between the aluminum and the top veneer layer are sandwiched five layers of tulip-poplar wood and glue. A sheet of Mylar is placed atop the veneer to protect it, and then it is compressed at 1160 psi at 239 degrees F to fuse the part together. Next come several sanding and polishing steps, before five coats of polyester lacquer are applied robotically.
WOOD SHOP The suppliers bundle sheets of veneer in stacks shaved from the same section of the tree root ball, which allows the Bentley craftsman to book match the grain (this means the grain is perfectly symmetrical about a line in the center of the panel), and mirror matched (meaning the door or dash panel on one side of the car looks almost identical to the one on the opposite side, as shown on these two Continental GT door panels.
LEATHER SHOP Next the parts are sewn together by hand.
ASSEMBLY LINE At this station a final electrical check is made of the 32 electronic control units and myriad switches and connections, before any interior trim is fitted.
ASSEMBLY LINE Here all the fluids except the gasoline are being topped up.
ASSEMBLY LINE And this corner of the factory is where the new Continentals and Arnages roll off their separate assembly lines.
Crewe, England. The beautiful brickwork of Victorian factories. An intricate network of canals and railway lines suggesting the congested traffic of bygone eras. The industrial revolution. The Second World War. Leafy suburbs give way to open countryside. And suddenly you’re there.Welcome to Pyms Lane, home of Bentley Motors, proud guardians of the Flying “B”.
You’re struck, first of all, by the quiet. Then the scent of freshly cut leather mingling with hardwoods freshly sawn. So imperceptibly slow is its forward momentum you have to be told that this is the assembly line. Shapes emerge like sculptures partly formed. You make out the gracious lines of a new Arnage, the exciting thrust of a Continental body. Here and there in the cathedral-like spaces small clusters of green-clad engineers pore over the gleaming contours of a new Azure or a Continental GTC.
You witness the moment a new Bentley is born as a distinguishing red metal plate bearing the signature of the engine assembly team leader is attached to a hand-built engine. In Bentley Mulliner, next door to the main facility, engineers and craftspeople are fitting with infinite care bespoke interior appointments to the interior of an Arnage RL limousine.
Then the history. The historic 3-litre ‘Exp.No. 2, the second Bentley built; the magnificent 4 - litre ‘Blower’ that raced at Le Mans in 1930; the iconic R Type Continental and S1 Continental Flying Spur, the Le Mans Trophies past and present. - The legend comes alive.
This isn’t a factory visit. It’s the Bentley Experience.
You could be here to choose the colour of the thread that will cross-stitch the voluptuous appointments of your recently-ordered Arnage. Or to take one of our extraordinary new Continental GT’s for a memorable spin around the local countryside.
However it begins, your tour of our Crewe facility, in the company of your Dealer representative and a time served Tour Guide, will inevitably end with a new appreciation of the passion for fine craftsmanship and the pride in engineering perfection that goes into every one of our cars.
bentleymotors.com & caranddriver.com
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