January 18: Bentley Motors was founded on this date in 1919

January 18, 2013

The only path to success in the early days of the auto industry was engineering breakthroughs, and although William Owen Bentley learned engineering as an apprentice on the railroads, he would prove to have ideas to spare. His aluminum pistons powered many British airplanes in World War I; and when he established the Bentley Motors Ltd. on this date in 1919, the new engine he envisioned would seem modern by 21st-century standards -- a four-cylinder with four valves per cylinder, overhead camshaft and twin spark ignition. Between 1924 and 1930, Bentley would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans five times. Here's the oldest surviving footage of its 1929 victory, when only the driver could work on the cars in the pits: