Final Bentley 6¾ V8 built after 61 years of service

By: Alex Affat, Unique Cars magazine

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Longest V8 in continuous production earns its retirement

A few weeks ago saw the end of production for Bentley’s iconic and enduring ‘6¾’ V8 engine, described as longest V8 design in continuous production history.

Following the War, Bentley’s only powerplant was the Bentley/Rolls-Royce F-head inline-six and they soon found themselves in need of a replacement.

Jack Phillips lead the design under a number of constraints: the new V8 had to be at least 50% more powerful than the outgoing inline-six, use the same radiator, whilst retaining the basic size and weight, the same level of smoothness and refinement, and no increase in cost (if possible).

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Not an easy brief, but the new 6.2lt L-Series V8 arrived in 1959 under the bonnet of the Bentley S2 - as well as the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud II - with ingeniously similar size and packaging, whilst weighing 30 pounds less than the inline-six it replaced. 

As Wheels Magazine explained in their Great V8s feature: the L-Series reached its famous stroked 6.75lt capacity in 1970, and was an integral feature in moulding Rolls-Royce’s modern day reputation.

Over successive generations, the iconic 6¾ V8 was continually developed, receiving: stiffened bottom end, modern cylinder deactivation technology and cam phasing. The biggest development arrived in 1983 with the introduction of turbocharging on the Bentley Mulsanne.

The single Garrett T04 turbo attached to the carburetted engine lifted peak power to 222kW and torque to 610Nm.

The force-fed configuration evolved with fuel-injection with the arrival of the Bentley Turbo R.

Over the past 61 years, approximately 36,000 L-Series V8s have been produced, all by hand within the walls of the original Crewe factory. The very final 6¾ V8 required 15 hours, and a team of seven, to complete, after which it was fitted to the last of 30 limited edition Bentley Mulsanne 6.75 Editions by Mulliner.

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Peter Bosch, Bently Board member for Manufacturing stated: "Our venerable 6¾-litre V8 has powered the flagship Bentley for more than six decades, and so has earned its retirement".

"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".

For fans of classical engineering: the retirement of Bentley’s iconic 6¾ perhaps represents one of the last of the old guard.

As the industry moves towards smaller displacement engines and, increasingly, forced-induction; Bosch looks "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".

 

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