The word ‘iconic’ is used too regularly in classic and luxury car circles, but here it is truly justified: the iconic Bentley 6.75litre V8 engine, the magnificent ‘L-Series’, has finally ceased production after 61 years. The last one was put together by a team of seven Bentley engine builders who, between them, boast 105 years of hand-building what is the longest-serving V8 engine to have been in continuous production. This is truly a landmark moment in Bentley history.
The L-Series first saw use in 1959, when it debuted with the Bentley S2. In that first iteration the V8 produced a more than adequate 180bhp, enough to give the beautiful luxury car it powered impressive performance. Throughout the years the engine has been continuously developed – although notably the overall configuration of the engine and the bore spacing remained precisely the same until the final engine was finished on June 1st.
The most powerful example of the engine came with the stunning Mulsanne Speed in which the twin-turbocharged version delivered a mighty 530bhp, yet it was for its considerable torque that the engine was famed, and which contributed to the incredibly smooth delivery of power that it became known for. The final example will serve its time in the very last of 30 special edition Bentley Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner, bringing a famous and important period of motoring history to a close.
36,000 Units Hand-Built
Over that 61-year period some 36,000 examples of the L-Series were hand-built by the craftsmen and women at Bentley Motors, with the modern version taking a team some 15 hours to complete. We should here pay tribute to Jack Phillips, the Senior Engine Designer at Bentley in the 1950’s, who met the brief to design an engine to replace the existing V6. He was tasked to design an engine that was no heavier than the V6, took up no more space under the bonnet, and yet delivered 50% more power. What seemed a very tough task was met, with the first example not only running on a test bed just 18 months from the start of the design process but weighing 30lbs lighter than the old engine.
The engine at first was a 6.2litre capacity, this being raised to the familiar 6.75litres in 1971 for increased torque. It was also used in Rolls-Royce models during the period in which Rolls-Royce took ownership of Bentley. The engine may have seen the end of the line, but such is the reliability, quality and reverence this superb example of British engineering boasts, it will live on timelessly in the cherished cars of owners and collectors across the world.
Bentley Motors Member of the Board for Manufacturing paid tribute to the engine thus: “Our venerable 6¾-litre V8 has powered the flagship Bentley for more than six decades, and so has earned its retirement. I am extremely proud of the generations of skilled craftspeople that have meticulously assembled every one of these engines by hand over the years. That this engine stood the test of time for so long is testament to the ingenious engineers who kept making the engine ever more powerful, refined and reliable. Now, we look forward to the future of Bentley, powered by our exceptional W12, sporting 4.0-litre V8 and of course our efficient V6 Hybrid – the start of our journey to electrification.”
Supercartribe salutes a genuine icon of the motoring world, the likes of which will perhaps never be seen again.