Gilmartin’s Flowing B Parallels Rolls-Royces’ Flying Lady


  • Bentley’s “Flowing B” reminds us of the Flying Lady
  • Bentley manufactures parts for old Rolls-Royces
  • Flowing B to be available on Mulsanne

By Gunnar Heinrich | IMG Bentley Motors

ONE of the odd, but open secrets in the automotive world is that VW’s Bentley manufactures Rolls-Royce parts; that is to say parts for any Royce that was assembled at Crewe before Rolls’ departure with BMW to the new assembly at Goodwood.

So, in a funny twist, if you wanted to replace your Silver Seraph’s Spirit of Ecstasy (a.k.a. the Flying Lady) because some uppity kid nicked your original, your new Rolls-Royce emblem will have come courtesy of Bentley, not Rolls-Royce.

Pre-War Bentleys and the S-saloons in the 50s were sold with “Flying B” emblems on the radiator shell. Essentially it was an art deco font letter “B” with carefully knurled wings attached that rose above the chrome grille.

Those emblems have made a recent resurgence as a bespoke option in the Arnage, Azure, and Brooklands cars and now the Mulsanne.

Bentley designer Richard Gilmartin has taken the original Flying B concept and embellished it for art and charity’s sake in the recent Bonhams auction in honor of the Christie cancer center which we’ve covered in the previous article.

Bonhams Lot no. 12 featured two examples of a new mascot called the “Flowing B”. It is the silhouette of jubilant and busty lady whose figure clad with silken dress forms the shape of a “B” in profile and looks not entirely dissimilar from Royce’s Flying Lady -but different enough to avoid (hopefully) copyright issues with the ex. parent company.

Machined in aluminum (or aluminium, if you prefer) and sold at auction, the “Flowing B” will be made available as a bespoke option from the Mulsanne saloon.

Mr. Gilmartin wrote in the lot description posted on Bentley’s website that the Flowing B drew inspiration from some of the best works of the early 20th century by the French company Lalique.

And a certain other British marque, sans doute.

F.Y.I.: Mr. Gilmartin’s other entry, lot 11, is also noteworthy. It’s an acrylic on canvas pop art painting of the Bentley 6.5 Litre Blue Train car.

rich gilmartin bentley art

December 02, 2009

About the Author: Gunnar Heinrich is publisher of Automobiles De Luxe online and is executive producer of the Automobiles De Luxe Television series on PBS member station CPTV.

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