Bentley Motors is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of its own Design department at Crewe. The first Crewe- designed Bentley was the R-Type Continental in 1951, and was the responsibility of John Blatchley, the Head of Styling. John’s previous experience as chief designer from Gurney-Nutting, the coachbuilders responsible for the iconic ‘Blue Train’ Bentley, meant he had a honed sense of proportion and form.
When it was founded in 1951, the design department’s key responsibility was to communicate ideas and design proposals and share their vision with other areas of the business. This was achieved by capturing design sketches as watercolour artworks, painted by hand – beautifully crafted yet with no opportunity to click an ‘undo’ button if a mistake was made.
The watercolour renders were then reproduced in scale or full size technical drawings depicting side, front, rear, plan elevations and sectional views along the body to describe to the model makers the form of the new car.
Model makers of recent times follow the same processes as they did in the 1950’s. To visualise the drawings in three dimensions, a metal framework is covered with a malleable material (historically wax, and more recently clay) then accurately shaped to describe the form of the new vehicle. Measurements could then be taken from the model and cross–referenced back to ensure the drawings were representative.
Nowadays measuring arms and scanning equipment enable quicker assessment of three dimensional models, with accuracy down to hundredths of a millimetre, and provide data as either numeric print outs or cloud data uploaded directly within the design studio for instant virtual reference.