Wolfgang Dürheimer and Franz-Josef Paefgen
Franz-Josef Paefgen hands Wolfgang Dürheimer the keys to Bentley – Click above for high-res image gallery

The king is dead. Long live the king.

After eight years at the helm of Bentley, Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen has officially stepped down from his position as chairman and CEO of Bentley Motors. Following the announcement a little over a month ago, the longtime Volkswagen group executive has literally handed the keys over to his successor, Wolfgang Dürheimer, on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show.

The official changing of the guard took place when Dürheimer accepted the keys to the vintage 1930 Bentley 8-Litre saloon that served as company founder W.O. Bentley's personal transport.

Intriguingly, Dürheimer will also be taking charge of Bugatti. The two executive rolls were combined when Paefgen took the head office at Molsheim as well upon the resignation of Thomas Bscher from Bugatti's helm. Industry insiders were waiting to see whether the brands would be placed under separate leadership once Paefgen was out of the picture, but now we have an answer.


Related GalleryBentley changes the guard at the 2011 Detroit Auto Show

[Source: Bentley]

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A KEY MOMENT -
WOLFGANG DÜRHEIMER ACCEPTS BENTLEY MOTORS LEADERSHIP AT DETROIT MOTOR SHOW

(Crewe and Detroit. 10 January, 2011) Wolfgang Dürheimer (52) prepared for his new role as the Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley Motors at the Detroit Motor Show today when he accepted the keys to one of the company's most revered cars – W.O. Bentley's 1930 8-litre saloon which was his official company car.

The 8-litre, now owned by Bentley Motors and still driven to this day, represented the pinnacle of W.O. Bentley's engineering career. Capable of reaching more than 100 mph, the 8-litre demonstrated W.O. Bentley's ambition and ability to build a grand luxury car capable of surpassing every other leading manufacturer of the day. This ability to combine stirring performance with hand-crafted luxury has been at the heart of the Bentley experience ever since.

Mr. Dürheimer, who received the keys as well as a hand-crafted model of the 8-litre from Bentley's outgoing Chairman and CEO Dr. Franz-Josef Paefgen and who will join the famous Crewe manufacturer on 1st February, commented:

"I have already had the pleasure of visiting Crewe and saw just why the company retains such a pride in its origins. The commitment to quality, craftsmanship and enthusiasm that everyone there shares, is remarkable and a tribute to the leadership of Dr. Paefgen."