Original Bentley T-Series commences full restoration

After being off the road and in storage for decades, a comprehensive ground-up restoration of the very first Bentley T-Series has begun at the marque’s home in Crewe, England

The car, which was originally displayed at the Paris Motor Show in 1965, was discovered in storage. Refurbishment work is expected to be completed in 2023.

The T-Series was the first Bentley of monocoque construction and featured disc brakes on all four wheels, a Hydramatic gearbox and ‘Vibrashocj’ subframe mountings, among other innovations.

After decades of being off the road and in storage, the very first Bentley T-Series is being brought back to life after the start of a complete wheels-up restoration.

 

The 6¼-litre pushrod V8 has been started for the first time in at least 15 years, and Bentley technicians say the engine and gearbox have proven to be in good condition despite their extended rest.

 

After a restoration project slated to take at least 18 months and that will return the car to outstanding condition, it will be added to Bentley’s expanding Heritage Collection of road-going cars that together describe all 103 years of Bentley’s history.

The oldest T-Series completed manufacture on the 28 September 1965. Owned by Bentley Motors and destined for trials work around the world, the T-Series was finished in Shell Grey exterior paint and complemented with a Blue Leather interior. 


The T-Series was originally announced and displayed for the first time at the Paris Motor Show on 5 October 1965 and was significantly different from its predecessor, the S-Type. Notably, the T-Series was the first Bentley to use a unitary construction method, using a monocoque in place of the separate chassis and body technique of every Bentley before it.

The 225hp (167kW), 6¼-litre V8 was originally designed and introduced in 1959 in the Bentley S2. The engine was considered over-engineered at the time, but its inherent strength, reliability and development potential led to it becoming Bentley’s mainstay engine for the next 50 years. By the time the engine was retired in 2019, it was delivering more than double the amount of power and three times the original torque while producing 99% fewer emissions.

 

Before the T-Series, Bentley was primarily known for coachbuilt bodies underpinned by a separate chassis. But customer expectations and requirements were changing at a time where the coachbuilding trade was also declining. Customers wanted their Bentleys to be externally smaller but maintain the space, luxury, and comfort they had come to expect.

By 1962, R-Type Continental stylist John Blatchley had completed a new exterior design for a steel and aluminium monocoque body. The design improved on the passenger space of the preceding S3, but with the overall car now shorter, lower, and narrower. Overall cabin space was increased, and a bigger boot provided more capacity for luggage.


Using the freshly developed V8 engine, seven prototypes undertook significant testing including endurance runs of over 100,000 miles. Design innovations included separate subframes to carry the engine and transmission, suspension, steering and rear axle assemblies, with ‘Vibrashock’ rubber subframe mounts developed to isolate road noise and vibration.    

The T-Series had an advanced chassis with independent suspension on all four wheels with automatic height control according to loading. Pressure for the self-levelling suspension came from the triplicate hydraulic braking system which had disc brakes on all four wheels. The suspension comprised of double wishbones and coil springs at the front and semi-trailing arms at the rear.    

The Bentley T-Series was hailed as a clear example of revolutionary engineering given it was the first Bentley to move away from a separate chassis build. 1,868 examples of the first-generation T-Series were produced, with a two-door version added to the roster in 1966.

 

In October 2016, a group of apprentices started the rejuvenation process for T-Series VIN 001.

 

Starting with the removal of trim and the reconditioning of the Body-in-White, the T-Series started its journey to return to active duty. After initial preparations the work was put on hold while the introduction of the current product range and future electrification activities became more of a priority.

 

Now, however, with renewed attention on developing the Bentley Heritage Collection, the car is on course to make its return.

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