World's oldest V8 finally retiring

One of the world’s most iconic engines is being retired.

Bentley has announced the last of its L-series V8s being assembled by hand, at Crewe. These final few L-Series V8 engines will power the Mulsanne 6.75 Edition by Mulliner.

This latest announcement by Bentley ends the world’s longest-serving V8 production engine. Very few rival luxury car brands can claim to have produced an engine with the longevity of Bentley’s L-Series.

As an engineering achievement, the L-Series engine is legendary. And deservedly so. It has been in production since 1959 when the original version was created as a replacement for Bentley’s inline-six engines.

Initially a 6.25-litre displacement V8, the L-Series became a 6.75-litre in the late 1960s, when the engine was stroked, increasing capacity. The engineering goal was to deliver more torque whilst increasing smoothness.

Bentley even built an experimental 7.5-litre version, as it explored ways of delivering more performance with less vibration and noise, for its customers. Big engines turning strong performance, at lower crankspeed, was the design logic.

For decades these 6.75-litre V8 engines powered Bentleys in the most discreet way possible. The company did not disclose exact engine outputs for many years, considering it to be ‘ungentlemanly’.

Despite its ageing block design, Bentley’s engineers managed to develop and modernise the L-Series 6.75-litre V8. Technical challenges aside, it gained turbocharging, electronic fuel injection and sophisticated valve-timing, without sacrificing its unique character and power delivery characteristics.

Perhaps the most amazingly enduring technical feature of the L-Series engine has been its ability to retain a pushrod valve gear configuration, into 2020.

The final 30 engines are notably potent. Peak power ranks at 395 kW, supported by 1 100 Nm of torque.

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