As Bentley enters its Centenary year, the oldest remaining and first racing model – EXP 2 – will be displayed at next week’s Retromobile in Paris Paris. The first of many unique events in 2019 that will see Bentley celebrate this landmark year, Retromobile kick-starts the world car show season between 6th-10th February at Salon des Expositions, Porte de Versailles.
Showcasing Bentley’s motoring evolution over the past 100 years, the British brand’s stand in Paris offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore the heritage and the innovation of the British luxury car manufacturer.
In the first few years of his company’s existence, W.O. Bentley made three prototypes: EXP 1 (EXPerimental No.1) at New Street Mews off Baker Street (which first ran in October 1919); EXP 2 built later that year at Bentley’s new workshop in Cricklewood (cannibalising much of EXP 1): and EXP 3 – better known as ‘The Cab’ and W.O.’s personal car.
A legacy of the Cricklewood era, EXP 2 (the red and silver car on the right of the header picture) is the oldest Bentley in existence. As the second Bentley to ever be made, its debut was at the 1919 Olympia Motor Show and is a landmark car in the brand’s 100-year history.
Drawing influence from W.O. Bentley’s pre-war competition experience – when he pioneered the use of aluminium pistons – EXP 2 is also the brand’s first car to win a race, powered by a 3.0-litre four-cylinder engine with a top speed of 80 mph.
Frank Clement, W.O.’s development engineer and racing driver, won the Junior Sprint Handicap at Brooklands on 16 May 1921 in EXP2 – the first recorded racing victory for Bentley. Clement not only took the brand’s maiden win at the famous banked circuit, but also saw off some famous names in the process.