Bentley apprentices bring Engine 212 back to life

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Bentley
Restored engine on its specially built display stand | Bentley photos

The process consumed 700 hours of labor, but apprentices at Bentley have restored historic Engine No. 212, a 3.0-liter 4-cylinder unit originally produced in 1923. The project was commissioned as part of Bentley’s corporate centennial.

“Everybody involved in the restoration felt privileged to be presented with an opportunity to work with such an important piece of history,” the Bentley announcement quotes Amy Denton, an advance paint apprentice. “It allowed us to develop new skills and techniques which will help in our future careers.”

Originally, engine 212 was installed in chassis 209. At some point the engine and its car were separated and the engine went to the Royal Artillery Corps School in Dorset, where it was used to teach students about the workings of internal combustion.

Close up of one side of the engine
Cutaway view exposes a piston

Bentley historians believe the owner of the car may have been a member of the British military who donated the vehicle and engine to the school.

The engine remained at the school until 2011, when it was offered to Bentley. The engine was stored until 2018 when the restoration project began.

“Apprentices at Bentley Motors in Crewe managed the entire project themselves, including planning, budgeting and risk assessment,” the company said.

“The engine was stripped down to single components, which were individually photographed, bagged and then logged on a computer for easier reassembly. After the parts were washed and cleaned, blasting equipment was used to remove old paint. The engine was then restored to the colors used by the Royal Artillery Corps School in recognition of that part of the engine’s history.

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Restoration team

“At the same time, the apprentices designed and built a special plinth which would display the engine at its best. 

“The apprentices obtained chassis diagrams from the original car to create a set of supporting legs that will carry engine No. 212 for years to come. The finishing touch was an information plaque explaining the history of the engine.”

Bentley, which employs 4,000 people, offers 3- and 4-year apprenticeship programs in disciplines ranging from mechanical to sales and marketing and finance. 

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

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