A special tribute to the Bentley Girls

March 8, 2024

In honour of International Women’s Day and the wider Women’s History Month, Bentley Motors is excited to announce three special Bentayga specifications to celebrate the famous ‘Bentley Girls’: Mary Petre Bruce, Dorothy Paget and Diana Barnato Walker.

Bentley Girls Bentaygs

Two bespoke designers – Emma Carruthers and Georgia Gough – commissioned three unique interpretations inspired by the amazing women that held defining roles in the brand’s 105-year history. While the Bentley Boys may have set the pace, the Bentley Girls refused to take a back seat, making their mark in inimitable Bentley style. Now, their lives and achievements are celebrated in three one-off Bentayga specifications, with the Bentayga’s go-anywhere luxury a perfect match for the incredible lifestyles they led.

Each unique specification incorporates special design cues from the storied past of each Bentley Girl defining a modern interpretation of their vehicle of choice today.

Karen Lange, Bentley’s Member of the Board for Human Resources, said: “The Bentley Girls each played a crucial role in Bentley’s history and it is important to bring their involvement to light. We are always striving to expand the ‘Bentley Family’ and sometimes that means looking back and honouring important people who brought so much meaning to the Bentley brand we know today. These three cars are an homage to the lives of the Bentley Girls, and the contributions they made to the Bentley we know and love today.”

The Bentayga Azure celebrating Mary Petre Bruce is inspired by the 4½ Litre Bentley she drove at Montlhéry, France for 24 hours on 6 June 1929, to capture the world record for single-handed driving, averaging more than 89 miles per hour. Mary had never driven a Bentley until the day of the record attempt and had to borrow cushions from the official timekeepers so she could reach the pedals. Despite fog, cold and treacherous track conditions she covered 2,164 miles in 24 hours.

In the same year she set a powerboat record for the fastest double-crossing of the Channel before buying herself an aircraft and learning to fly in just six weeks. Then she set off on a solo round the world flight, breaking record after record on her way – becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the world alone.

The Mary Petre Bruce Bentayga Azure features Parson Green Pearlescent Paint over matching heritage hide, both a direct connection to her 4½ Litre. The interior features 24-karat gold organ stops, aligning with her winning mentality and lavish lifestyle. Mother of pearl crossbanded veneer is also included – a nod to a celebrated quote from Mary: “I was never keen on overalls or slacks, but always drove in a blouse, tailored skirt and a string of pearls”. Further inspiration from her 4½ Litre includes vertical fluted quilting seat uppers and doorcards as well as Mother of Pearl Marquetry reading ‘YV 7263’ – the number plate of the car she drove. A finishing touch is a chequered flag D pillar badge alongside Blackline Specification, reflecting the sporting minimalism of the 4½ Litre’s design and as a tribute to Mary’s racing past

Dorothy Paget played a vital role in the creation of one of the most iconic Bentleys; the 4½ Litre Supercharged, commonly known as the Blower Bentley. While other young ladies prioritised finding a suitor, Paget focused her passion for speed and power. Her interest in motor racing first developed on a visit to Brooklands, where she took driving lessons from Bentley Boy and racing driver Sir Tim Birkin. He described her as one of the finest women drivers he had ever come across, ‘capable of handling any make of racing car produced in this country or abroad’.

By 1929, Birkin had become obsessed with driving more performance from the Bentley 4½ Litre. He was convinced that Amherst Villiers’ supercharger was the way to do it, and despite the opposition of W.O. Bentley himself, Dorothy Paget sponsored a racing team of supercharged Blowers. Four 4½ Litre Supercharged Blowers were built, and Birkin’s team competed alongside Bentley’s Works team at Brooklands and Le Mans. The #2 Team Car, raced by Birkin himself at Le Mans in 1930, has since become the most famous, most iconic and most valuable Bentley in the world – a car of legend, despite never winning a race.

The Dorothy Paget Bentayga Extended Wheelbase (EWB) Mulliner features solid Blower Green Exterior paint over minimal colour split interior hide of Cumbrian and Blower Green – colour-matched to Team Car #2 itself. The EWB Mulliner – the pinnacle of the Bentayga range – was chosen to express and showcase Dorothy’s extraordinary lifestyle. There are further inspirations from the Bentley Blower which she helped create, including Nickel Painted Self Levelling Wheel Accent Bezels and Painted Nickel Veneer Carriers to the interior – both a reference to the Blower’s radiator. To the inside, engine spin aluminium facias echo the dashboard of the Blower.

Daughter of three-time Le Mans winner Woolf Barnato, Diana Barnato Walker inherited her father’s flair and courageous spirit. She was an accomplished horsewoman and keen motorist, driving a Dove Grey Bentley 4¼ Litre Park Ward saloon.

Like Mary Petre Bruce, flying became Diana’s lifelong passion. She flew solo at the Brooklands Flying Club in 1938 after only six hours of instruction and joined the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1941, delivering aircraft from the factories to front-line squadrons. It was a dangerous job – she had to navigate herself without any ground contact, as the radio frequencies were reserved for the frontline squadrons. Famous for her glamorous appearance and exceptional flying skills, by the end of the war she had delivered 260 Spitfires and numerous other aircraft to their squadrons.

The Diana Barnato Bentayga S is inspired by her favourite aircraft – the Spitfire – and so features a Smoke Green exterior and the interior hide split of green and saddle, referencing the Spitfire Mk9’s cockpit. Additionally, the car features a bespoke D Pillar badge with the Spitfire emblem and Signal Yellow accents replicating the colour of the wing’s leading edge.

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