Bentley builds last L-Series engine, world’s longest-serving V8 design

In 61 years of production, 36,000 of the handcrafted engines have been produced

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Two of the Bentley team members pose with the final L-Series V8 | Bentley photos

After more than six decades of continuous production, the last Bentley 6¾-liter V8 engine was assembled at the Crewe, England, factory on June 2, ending the run of the longest-serving V8 design in history.

The final L-Series engine was handcrafted by a team of seven people, according to a Bentley news release, and “will spend its life powering the 30th and last specially commissioned Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner.” 

“This bespoke series closes the Mulsanne’s production run, and celebrates the life of its iconic engine with a myriad of V8-inspired details including badging, blueprint graphics and even ventilation ‘organ stops’ featuring a miniature version of the oil cap,” the release says. 

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A 1959 Bentley S2, in which the V8 was first used, with a current Mulsanne that gets the last one

The V8 engine, which originally displaced 6.2 liters prior to a longer stroke increasing its size to 6.75 liters, was first used in the 1959 Bentley S2 sedan, replacing the luxury brand’s longtime inline-6.  Since then, 36,000 of the V8 engines have been hand built by selected teams of experienced workers, Bentley said.

“Even the modern engine takes 15 hours to build, and the key internal components are individually chosen to form a matching, balanced set so that the engine runs perfectly smoothly – a skill that takes years to perfect,” the release says.

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The original V8 produced around 180 horsepower in 1959, which Bentley at the time deemed “adequate.”

“Since then, through the advent of continual design improvement, turbocharging (first single, then twin), electronic control systems, fuel injection and variable valve timing, the modern descendant of that original engine has evolved into something truly extraordinary,” Bentley said in the release. 

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The 6.75-liter V8 is completely hand-assembled

“Developing 530 bhp for the Mulsanne Speed, together with an astonishing 1,100 Nm (about 811 pound-feet) of torque, the low-revving engine delivers a unique character that defined the widely recognized ‘wave of torque’ that all Bentleys now ride.

“At the same time, emissions have been drastically reduced, with the modern engine producing 99 percent fewer harmful emissions than its forebear.”

With the end of the Mulsanne nameplate, the Flying Spur becomes Bentley’s flagship.  Three engine choices remain available for Bentley cars and SUVs: the W12, the 4.0-liter V8 and the V6 Hybrid, which Bentley calls “the start of our journey to electrification.”

“Our venerable 6¾-litre V8 has powered the flagship Bentley for more than six decades, and so has earned its retirement,” commented Peter Bosch, Bentley’s board member for manufacturing. “I am extremely proud of the generations of skilled craftspeople that have meticulously assembled every one of these engines by hand over the years.

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“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.”  

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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