5SQZWSUT Bentley Flying B Mascot 8
Bentley Flying B Mascot 8

Bentley ‘Flying B’ makes dramatic entrance

Riley Riley

Everyone needs a mascot. Rolls-Royce has the Spirit of Ecstasy, Bentley boasts the Flying B.

The ‘Flying B’ bonnet mascot is the ultimate symbol of Bentley design and craft and there’s a brand new one.

Versions of the Bentley ‘Flying B’ bonnet mascot have been offered since the mid-1920s, with the current design being the sixth in line.

For the latest Flying Spur, Bentley designers and engineers accepted the challenge to take the art and craft of the ‘Flying B’ to the next level.

The emblem that graces the radiator of the Flying Spur Mulliner is the first in Bentley history to be deployed electronically, the first to feature a cover plate that replaces it when stowed, the first with clear acrylic wings and the first to be internally illuminated.

It’s not surprising that 97 per cent of all Flying Spur orders opt for a ‘Flying B’.

With the release of the latest design, owners are treated to a moment of pure automotive theatre as they approach the car.

As the Bentley name badge above the grille smoothly slides out of view, a beautifully polished ‘Flying B’ mascot rises to take its place.

In perfect synchronicity, headlights and delicate clear acrylic wings of the mascot briefly illuminate with a welcoming glow.


An in-house design, the ‘Flying B’ mascot is cast as a single piece of 316 grade stainless steel, which has an austenitic crystalline structure that’s both tough and capable of withstanding extremes of temperature.

The addition of molybdenum gives it corrosion resistance, vitally important for a component that’s exposed to the elements all year round anywhere from the arctic circle to the equator.

The ‘Flying B’ is made using the ‘lost wax’ casting process, a technique usually reserved for precision components such as gas turbine blades.

This form of casting, though time consuming, is typically used for making complex-shaped components that require tighter tolerances, thinner walls and a better surface finish than can be obtained with sand casting.

First, molten wax is injected into a die. A water-soluble core occupies the cavity where the two acrylic crystal wings will sit, while a ceramic central core creates a passage within the wax moulding for the illumination wiring.

The wax emblem is then removed from the die and the soluble core dissolved to create a perfect ‘Flying B’ in wax.

Next, the wax emblem is encased in multiple layers of a fine ceramic solution containing colloidal silica and alumina; once these layers have set solid, the wax is melted in a steam pressure chamber to leave a ceramic mould with a hollow cavity in the shape of the emblem.

At this point molten 316 stainless steel, heated to 1600 degrees, is poured into the ceramic mould.

Once the steel has cooled and set, the ceramic outer skin is removed, while the ceramic core is dissolved under pressure using a caustic solution.

The stainless-steel Flying ‘B’ emblem that emerges is then ready for the next stage; shot blasting removes any minute traces of ceramic material and a process called ‘extrude honing’ ensures that the internal passage within is smooth enough for the wiring that will pass through it.

Only after every trace of ceramic material is removed, and the component carefully measured to ensure it meets the precise tolerances required, will the Flying ‘B’ be sent for hand polishing.

This final touch of hand craftsmanship brings out the deep lustre of smooth stainless steel.

The entire process takes 11 weeks from start to finish, at which point the mascot is ready for assembly of the crystal acrylic wings, wiring and tiny LEDs that create such a magical effect when deployed.

To put this in perspective, the earliest Bentleys were not fitted with a bonnet mascot.

The oldest Bentley in existence, EXP2, featured a simple water temperature gauge as a radiator cap directly in the driver’s line of sight.

But demand from owners led the company to offer from the mid-1920s an ornate, upright brass ‘B’ featuring wings held horizontally.


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