Bentley Presents The Latest Flying B Mascot For The New Flying Spur

Bentley has designed a new “Flying B” for the latest Flying Spur Mulliner. The bonnet mascot is the first in the marque’s story to be deployed electronically and to feature a cover plate that replaces it when stowed. Its elegant shape has transparent acrylic wings and is the first mascot to be internally illuminated.

Bentley cars were not always fitted with a bonnet mascot. The EXP2, for instance, featured a simple water temperature gauge as a radiator cap directly in the driver’s vision. Demand from Bentley owners led the company to offer from the mid-1920s a decorative, upright brass “B” with horizontal wings.

This followed some eccentric offerings. A rear-leaning Flying B, for instance, was briefly seen on the Derby Bentley MR and MX series overdrive cars. But since the wings projected back over the bonnet, the driver had to twist the mascot sideways when opening the bonnet to avoid denting it.

Possibly one of the loveliest mascot designs was by the artist Charles Sykes who, in the 1930s, introduced a touch of deco to his petit, streamlined mascot. The original sketch featured a forward-leaning single-wing “B” with facets so that it could be read from either side. However, the single wing was unpopular with owners, so the design was revised to feature two rearward-facing wings.

Iterations of Sykes’ design were offered until the 1970s, after which pedestrian protection legislation banned prominent solid bonnet ornaments. In 2006 a revised style was introduced with a retractable mechanism for the Bentley Azure, Brooklands and (as an option) Mulsanne models. The sculpture retracted upon impact but was otherwise fixed in place. The 2019 Flying Spur introduced the Flying B as we know it today.

What you see here is the sixth re-imagining of the little sculpture. The 2022 design was chosen following a competition set among the internal design team in Crewe, UK, whereby they were tasked to create a prototype for the Bentley board. The winning design, by Hoe Young Hwang, was the unanimous choice.

The designer worked with turbine casting techniques to create an all-weather-resistant mascot. The structure was cast as a single piece of 316-grade stainless steel with an austenitic crystalline structure that is tough yet capable of withstanding temperature extremes. The additional molybdenum gives the sculpture corrosion resistance — crucial for car components exposed to the elements all year round and in various world climates.

The wax casting process used to make the Flying B is a technique usually deployed for precision components such as gas turbine blades. This form of casting, though time-consuming, can result in complex-shaped parts that require tighter tolerances, thinner walls and a better surface finish than can be obtained with sand casting.

Firstly, molten wax is injected into a die. A water-soluble core occupies the cavity where the two acrylic crystal wings will sit. In contrast, a ceramic central body creates a passage within the wax molding for the illumination wiring. The wax emblem is then removed from the die, and the soluble core is dissolved to create a perfect shape in wax.

The wax emblem is then encased in multiple layers of an advanced ceramic solution containing colloidal silica and alumina. Once these layers are solidified, the wax is melted in a steam pressure chamber to leave a ceramic mold with a hollow cavity in the shape of the emblem.

The next stage involves the liquid 316 stainless steel, heated to 1,600°C and poured into the ceramic mold. Once the steel has cooled and set, the ceramic outer skin is removed, while the ceramic core is dissolved under pressure using an acidic solution. The stainless-steel emblem that emerges is then shot blasted to remove any minute traces of ceramic material. Meanwhile, a process called “extrude honing” ensures that the internal passage within is smooth enough for the wiring that will pass through it.

Once all minute traces of ceramic material are removed and the component is carefully measured to ensure it meets the precise tolerance level, the Flying B is then sent to Bentley’s artisans to be hand polished for a smooth finish.

The process takes some eleven weeks to complete. Then the mascot is ready to assemble with the crystal acrylic wings, wiring and tiny illuminating LEDs that make this enchanting little sculpture so special.

See two new electric cars: the Rolls-Royce Spectre and Genesis X Convertible.

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