It also tips the scales at 66 pounds, so you’ll need a sturdy coffee table

History is a quintessential component in a brand’s dynamics. It is what defines that brand’s rise and fall, and to some extent, history also dictates a company’s future. Few car brands outrank Bentley when it comes to legacy, so the idea of a luxury book that tells the history of Bentley is by no means far-fetched.

100 years ago, Walter Owen Bentley laid the foundation on which Bentley would sit. At the core of this foundation was a simple concept. A car, to be more precise. In W.O. Bentley’s words, "a fast car, a good car, the best in its class."

Fast-forward to the present day, and we get to witness a small fraction of Bentley’s centenary celebrations through a luxury book launched in collaboration specialist publisher Opus. And yeah, it’s a limited edition, although that’s not its most jaw-dropping feature.

Called the Bentley Centenary Book, it features an introduction wrote by fashion icon Ralph Lauren and nine chapters that tell the story of Bentley Motors - from past and more recent Le Mans glory to the edge of bankruptcy and back to better days, financially speaking.

The book - the biggest (like, literally) ever made to tell the history of a car manufacturer - is almost one meter (40 inches) wide when opened and tips the scales at 30 kilos (that's 66 pounds).

But here comes the shocker - it will be available in three versions - and judging by the price tag we could very well call them trim levels. The most expensive is the 100 Carat Edition, produced in just 7 copies priced at £200,000 ($255,600) each. That’s north of £30,000 ($38,000) on top of the Bentley Continental GT Speed’’ starting price.

The other two "down-to-Earth" versions of the Bentley Centenary Book are priced at £12,500 ($16,000) per copy (that’s the Mulliner Edition) and £3,000 ($3,850) per copy (for the Centenary Edition). The former will get just 100 copies, while the later will get a wider run of 500 copies.

The Bentley Centenary Book Costs More Than $200,000
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But that’s not the whole story. Customers can select a tailor-made option that includes their photographs on special pages within the book. Moreover, the book features leather hides from the same sources as the upholstery in Bentley’s models - which is bulls raised at high altitude in the Scandinavian peninsula and sheltered in enclosures that are barbwire-free to avoid scratches.

As we anticipated last year, content was not a problem for Bentley - it was only a matter of making everything fit or at least the most significant bits. Like the giant 20x24 inches polaroid portraits taken with the world’s largest Polaroid camera and the 56 watercolor illustrations of Bentley’s most iconic cars.

The Bentley Centenary Book Costs More Than $200,000
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And as if those features weren’t fancy enough as it is, get this: the chapter that treats Bentley’s racing history features a strip of the Michelin tire used by the Le Mans-winning Bentley Speed 8 in 2003.

The history of Bentley Motors in brief

The Bentley Centenary Book Costs More Than $200,000
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1919-1929 - W.O. Bentley’s downright hate for his time’s automobiles - especially those of the noisy, dangerous, and poorly-assembled ilk - led him to establish what we know today as Bentley Motors. The first Bentley left the production line in 1921 and was sold for £1,050. With an eye for racing, Bentley develops a 3-liter engine that pushed 85 hp and allowed speeds of up to 80 mph (130 km/h). As a result, the company starts building a reputation in racing. The Bentley Boys are born and with them, a string of Le Mans victories between 1927 and 1930.

1930-1939 - Financial difficulties help Rolls-Royce buy Bentley in 1931. Production is moved to Derby, where a new 3.5-liter sports car is developed. Onboard the Speed Six, Woolf Barnato reaches London from Cannes quicker than the famed Le Train Bleu (The Blue Train) gets from Cannes to Calais.

The Bentley Centenary Book Costs More Than $200,000
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1940-1949 - The car production is moved to Crewe once the WW2 is over. The Bentley Mark VI heralds a new era for the carmaker - one that would mix new assembly techniques and the eye for luxury.

1950-1959 - By now, Bentley is a well-known luxury carmaker. The R-Type Continental launches in 1952 with a top speed of 120 mph (193 km/h). Five years later, Bentley drops the Continental Flying Spur saloon powered by a 6.2-liter aluminum V8.

1960-1989 - More luxury cars come off the assembly line, including the T Series. W.O. Bentley dies in August 1971, at the age of 82. The Bentley Corniche is rebranded as Continental in 1984. By 1989, Bentley outsells Rolls-Royce two-to-one.

The Bentley Centenary Book Costs More Than $200,000
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1990-2019 - Volkswagen buys Bentley in 1998 and massively changes the carmaker’s ways with new technology and improved processes on all fronts. The Continental GT is launched in 2003 - today, some consider it the car that saved Bentley. 2009 marks the debut of the Mulsanne - consider it the company’s gift for itself on its 90th anniversary. Unsurprisingly, Bentley enters the SUV market with the Bentayga - the year is 2015, as most of you recall.

The company’s lineup currently includes the said Bentayga, the Continental GT (coupé and convertible), the Flying Spur, and the Mulsanne.

Further reading

2017 Bentley Flying Spur V8 S High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley Flying Spur V8 S.

2018 Bentley Continental GTC
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Read our full review on the 2020 Bentley Continental GT Convertible.

2018 Bentley Continental GT High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Read our full review on the 2018 Bentley Continental GT.

2017 Bentley Bentayga High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2017 Bentley Bentayga.

2017 Bentley Mulsanne High Resolution Exterior
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Read our full review on the 2019 Bentley Mulsanne.

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