1929 Bentley Blower to be Reborn.
The most revered and valuable Bentley ever created, the 1929 Bentley Team Blower, will be issued as a continuation series model. It will be the first time a continuation series vehicle will be built of a pre-war race car.
Built at the automaker’s Mulliner custom workshop located within the Bentley factory in Crewe, England, it promises to be one of the most sought after collector’s edition vehicles ever built. Mulliner is the Bentley division responsible for converting a customer’s dreams into reality. If Bentley were a guitar company, Mulliner would be their Custom Shop.
One of Bentley’s most iconic designs, the Blower was one of four built to racing specifications as commissioned by Sir Tim Birkin. One of the original “Bentley Boys,” Birkin was also a racer of note in the day, who had the ear of company chairman Woolf Barnato. That would prove crucial when it came time to push the envelope for further development.
One such push resulted in the addition of the “blower” or supercharger to the Bentley 4-1/2 liter engine. Typically, company founder W. O. Bentley would increase the size of the engine in order to increase its power output. Birkin had the idea to install a Roots-type supercharger to the 4-1/2-liter engine, increasing the power from 130 to 240 horsepower. Birkin persuaded chairman Barnato to sanction production of 55 supercharged 4-1/2 liter Bentleys with five specifically designed for competition.
The cars made their debut in 1930 at the Irish Grand Prix. Fitted with bodies by Harrison Coachbuilders, they placed well but did not win. Later, in the Ulster TT race, one of the other Bentley Blower race cars was rolled, and later rebuilt on a new 9’9” chassis with Vanden Plas bodywork in time for the Brooklands Double Twelve race in 1930. They later competed in the 24 hours of Le Mans with a team of three Bentley Speed Six and three Bentley Blower race cars.
As an aside, cars at that time were built with a radiator, hood, engine, and chassis. They were sent to coachbuilders for completion with their own brand of bodywork. Coachbuilders of the time included Harrison, Vanden Plas, Figoni et Falaschi and others.
The Blower Car of Sir Tim Birkin was critical in Bentley’s Victory at Le Mans. As the recollection goes, Birkin dogged the more powerful 7-liter Mercedes Supercharged SSK, causing them to constantly push to keep ahead of the Bentley until the Mercedes was driven to failure due to overheating. In the meantime, Birkin limped around the course on bald tires, and company chairman Barnato was able to take the victory driving the larger-engined Bentley Speed Six race car.
By May 1931, the remaining Birkin Works Blower cars were advertised for sale in MotorSport magazine, just as it would have been today. In the adverts, each car was guaranteed to achieve 125 mph.
Car number 2 was rebuilt in the 1960s and Bentley reacquired it in 2000. Maintained just as Sir Tim would have, it still manages to compete in the modern Mille Miglia road race five times, has driven to the race course at Le Mans several times, and also participated in the Goodwood Festival of Speed and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it appeared with two of the other three Blower Cars.
This car will serve as the template car, with each piece being disassembled down to its last bolt before being catalogued, photographed and 3D scanned to create a complete digital copy of the entire car. Twelve new versions will be reconstructed using original molds and tooling jigs and even some of the hand tools used to assemble the original cars. The cars will be as close to the original as possible with only minimal hidden changes as dictated by modern safety concerns, according to a Bentley press release.
Each continuation vehicle will include a four-cylinder, 16-valve engine with an aluminum crankcase with cast iron cylinder liners and a non-detachable cylinder head. The supercharger will be an exact replica of the Amherst Villiers MK IV Roots-type supercharger that helps to compress the air charge into the cylinder, and push the 4-1/2 liter engine to 240 horsepower @ 4,200 rpm.
This is the latest project at the Bentley Mulliner workshops in Crewe. Other projects include the recent Continental GT Number 9 edition, which is a contemporary version of the Bentley grand tourer, with a piece from the original car inset in the dashboard. The entire series of 100 cars sold out immediately after its announcement.
Price is available upon application!