Bentley’s 6.75-liter V8, also known as the “6 3/4 Litre“ because old England doesn’t use decimals, is one of the most famous engines in all the world of cars. It’s been in production in some form since 1959, and it has enough torque to pull the entire crust off of the Earth. And now Bentley’s CEO says its days are numbered.
Bentley chief Wolfgang Dürheimer dropped the knowledge about the 530-horsepower, 811 pound-feet of torque mill in an interview with Car and Driver:
But the 57-year-old engine, which the company calls a “6 3/4 Litre,” won’t survive beyond the current Mulsanne, we are told by Bentley CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer, who says that the V-8 has found its “final home” there. He confirmed that the next generation of Bentley’s flagship will be powered by a 12-cylinder engine, but he didn’t pin down a timeline for that car’s introduction.
Dürheimer didn’t really elaborate as to why the 6 3/4 has to die, but I can imagine it has a lot to do with creeping fuel economy and emissions regulations. And maybe he’s not bluffing! We really could be seeing the end of the venerable old motor that I’m pretty sure England invented when it saw a freight train for the first time.
But here’s the thing. Dürheimer, if you couldn’t tell from the name Wolfgang Fucking Dürheimer, isn’t from the world of good old fashioned British engineering.
He’s from Bentley’s parent company, Volkswagen.
Volkswagen has made it a bit of a company tradition over the past 20 years or so to just muscle the laws of physics, and bend it to the supreme will of German engineering. I don’t really know what drives that sort of insane machination, beyond maybe a “SCREW YOU” to the heavens, but it has given us engineering wonders like the quad-turbo W16 engine in Bugattis, and the Volkswagen One Liter concept.
Keeping the 6 3/4 going would be very much in that Volkswagen tradition. And also, strangely, it would be very much in Bentley tradition as well.
Because the Bentley 6 3/4, while it is much the same as the original from 1959, is almost entirely different from that engine from 1959. As C and D points out, it’s undergone a hell of a lot of changes:
The bore center spacing is the same as on the original dual-carburetor 6.2-liter version that launched in the 1959 Bentley S2 and Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II, but the block (always aluminum) has undergone redesigns to stiffen the bottom end, the pushrod valvetrain now employs cam phasing to vary the timing of the pushrod-operated valves, there’s cylinder deactivation to shut down four cylinders under light loads, and turbocharging arrived as far back as 1983. With twin turbos and a new cylinder head design, introduced in 2015, today’s port-injected L-series engine boasts 530 horsepower and a locomotive-like 811 lb-ft of torque at only 1750 rpm in the Mulsanne Speed.
So if there’s any way to re-invent the future while also celebrating the glories of the past, Volkswagen and Bentley will find a way to do it.
Of course, in the immortal words of the great Ivan Drago, if the 6 3/4 dies, it dies. There might be dumb hysterics about the “death of Bentley,” but Bentley will still keep churning out ultra-luxurious cars for the megarich.
Though allow us to be a little sentimental about it.