Walter Owen Bentley died last month, aged 83, after a series of illnesses fought with characteristic fortitude and determination. Famous both to expert and layman for his vintage Bentleys which, especially after their Le Mans conquests, were favoured alike by schoolboys and those who could afford them, W.O.’S versatility extended to the pre-war o.h.c. V12 Lagonda and the post-war twin-cam 2 1/2-litre Lagonda the engine of which was developed for that of the DB Aston Martins.
To his vast number of friends and few enemies W.O. will forever be remembered with affection, and a certain amount of awe, although he was the kindest, most approachable and reticent of celebrities. For it falls to a minority to race motorcycles and cars, learn engineering the hard way in loco erecting shops yet sustain a lifelong enthusiasm for railways, and create and manufacture motor-cars highly esteemed when new and legendary ever after.
W. O. Bentley did all those things and evolved the best rotary aero-engine of 1914/18 almost as a sideline. His 8-litre Bentley looked like taking all the steam out of the contemporary New Phantom Rolls-Royce until R-R Ltd. applied a firm anchor.
To Margaret, W.O.’s wife, counsellor and very close friend, and to all the members of the B.D.C. whose rallies and socials were enriched by W.O.’s presence, we extend deep sympathy in a loss which is utterly irreplaceable.—W.B.