Bentley's Design team are offering a rare opportunity to take a glimpse inside the usually secret and closed world of their studios and follow the development of a Bentley from the first sketch right through to the moment it sweeps through the factory gates.
The 'An Unbroken Line' exhibition - just unveiled at Bentley's Crewe headquarters - follows the compelling story of creativity and exacting technical precision behind the creation of the latest Bentleys including the Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Mulsanne.
Many of the very first drawings for the new Bentley Continental GT, including concepts consigned to the studio archives, are being shown publicly for the first time. The designers offer a step-by-step guide as to how the interior and exterior styles take shape both through computer virtualization and sophisticated full-scale clay models. They also provide an insight into how they employ state-of-the-art manufacturing techniques such as aluminium superforming, adapted from the aerospace industry, to shape the metal into the complex but clean lines that define the new Bentley Continental GT.
As well as capturing how the modern Bentley designer combines inspiration with technology - the exhibition also captures key moments of the company's lineage and the unbroken line of signature characteristics that define a Bentley to this day. Whether it is the particular shape and positioning of the headlights, the use of inverted needles on the dashboard or the pronounced 'powerlines' that sweep down the flanks of the car - the language of design comes to life.
Whilst designing the next new Bentley is serious work and a sizeable investment - the exhibition also highlights the lighter side of factory life with some design folklore. The slightly strange world of 'Teddy Bear Ears,' the 'Bentley Bat Cave' and 'Dame Ednas' are explained and there is the opportunity to see how the designers have turned their hand to creating beautiful and bespoke accessories with other luxury partners like Breitling and Tibaldi.
Right at the heart of the exhibition - illustrating the art of designers both past and present - are some of the finest examples of the cars that have made Bentley famous for over 90 years.
The new Bentley Continental GT and Bentley Mulsanne line-up alongside some classic and rare Bentley's including Woolf Barnato's exquisite 1930 'Blue Train' Speed Six Coupe which has been especially shipped in from America by a friend of the company. The car is renowned for its sleek and revolutionary Gurney Nutting coachwork and is also famous for winning one of the most intriguing wagers in motoring history when Barnato, a Le Mans-winning driver, drove all the way back to London from the south of France before his friend reached Calais on 'Le Train Bleu.'
'An Unbroken Line' will be based at Bentley's Headquarters in Crewe throughout 2011.Published 10 February 2011