Bentley is displaying one of the most important cars in its history at its factory in Crewe until September.

The Bentley Embiricos was commissioned by a wealthy Greek customer as the first ever aerodynamically inspired Bentley GT in 1938. The car went on to directly influence the 1952 R-Type Continental, which, in turn inspired the current Continental GT.

The customer was Andre Embiricos, a Greek ship-owner living in Paris. He wanted a Bentley capable of high-speed cruising on fast continental roads, something a standard Bentley's barn-door aerodynamics made difficult.

The new body was made from aluminium, saving 100 kg, and the teardrop shape obviously dramatically raised the top speed – it was timed at just over 110 mph. In fact it was so fast that the car was entered for the 1949 Le Mans 24 hours and finished sixth, despite being 11 years old and having covered 60,000 miles by that point. It was also probably the most luxurious car ever to be a serious contender in the race

Richard Charlesworth, Director of Royal and VIP Relations and Head of the Bentley Heritage Collection, commented:

"It is an honour for Bentley to exhibit this unique Bentley for the first time, thanks to the generosity of its esteemed owner. Its sleek form was extremely advanced for the time, and its DNA can still be seen in modern Bentley coupes today. We are looking forward to showing the Embiricos to our factory visitors, and to the public at the upcoming Windsor Castle Concours of Elegance."