Walter Owen Bentley, MBE was an English engineer who designed engines for cars and aircraft, raced cars and motorcycles, and founded Bentley Motors Limited in Cricklewood near London. He was known as "W. O." without any need to add the word Bentley.
After the war, in early 1919, W. O. and his brother founded Bentley Motors Limited. W.O.'s motto was "To build a good car, a fast car, the best in class.". Bentleys set many records at the Le Mans 24-hour races, with "Bentley Boy" Woolf Barnato the only driver to win all three times he entered. With Bentley Motors Ltd. in financial difficulties, Kimberley diamond magnate Barney Barnato's heir Woolf Barnato purchased the business's assets and became chairman. W. O. continued his design work as Barnato's employee. By July 1931 Barnato's financial support had dwindled, and Bentley Motors went into voluntary liquidation. D. Napier and Son entered negotiations as prospective purchasers. At the very last minute arch-rival Rolls-Royce topped Napier's bid, announcing their acquisition of Bentley on 20 November 1931. As obliged to do by the court he joined Rolls-Royce under a contract extending from 1 May 1932 to the end of April 1935. A Lagonda M45R Rapide with a Meadows engine won at Le Mans in June 1935. Just a week later Lagonda was pronounced saved from receivership by Alan P Good and W. O. joined Good's new Lagonda board of directors as technical director. W. O. moved, with the majority of the Rolls-Royce racing department staff, to Lagonda. There, W. O. again went racing. In 1947 it was announced that the Lagonda specification had been bought by David Brown & Sons Limited. Brown had purchased Lagonda largely to gain Bentley's engineering expertise, and immediately placed W. O. 's newest creation, his 2.6-litre Lagonda Straight-6 engine, under the bonnet of Brown's other new acquisition, the Frank Feeley-designed DB2. This durable DOHC engine would continue in Lagondas and Aston Martins until 1959 and, W. O. noted, important design details were carried on through to their V8. W. O. remained as an engineer at Aston Martin-Lagonda for a time, then he moved to Armstrong Siddeley, where he designed another twin-overhead-cam 3-litre engine before retiring.


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