Now the 3-litre was never intended to carry closed coachwork at all, and much of the charm that it possessed began to disappear when you did so. Closed bodies were very heavy, so some of the performance was lost, and the bodies were too big for the available power. This resulted in disappointment, and a demand for something bigger. So up went the engine to 4 litres, and the same thing happened again. "It's an awful pity", we would hear people say, "that it's not a six-cylinder engine. That would give us a bit more power and less noise." Inevitably, then, we had to give the customer what he wanted, and so was born the
Big Six, of 6 litres. This was better. It was quite as fast, and a great deal more refined than the4-cylinder cars. This really did seem to satisfy people for a while. Inevitably, in time though, seven-seater coachwork found its way onto this chassis, performance fell, and gentlemen who had bought a Bentley in part because of its reputation for reliability and speed were disappointed.
It is my experience that everybody in the end wants silence in a motor car. This is what we intended to give them with the next car. We also aimed at giving those who prized such a luxury, effortless performance, a 100 mph motor car that would carry seven people in complete silence and security. It was an interesting experience to start the 8-litre, select top gear, and get out and walk beside it without hearing a sound."
Richard Hough, A History of the World's Classic Cars, Harper & Row, 1963