Bentley has announced that it is joining the 'Continuation' game of resurrecting a classic car from its past for the 21st century, with the iconic (and we don't use that word lightly) Bentley 'Blower' of 1929 being the lucky recipient of the British marque's attention.
The 1929 4.5-litre supercharged racing Bentley known as the Blower, driven by Sir Tim Birkin, will be reborn as a new build of 12 matching cars, all individually handcrafted by a team from Bentley's coachwork/bespoke division, Mulliner. Only four original 'Team Blowers' were built in the 1920s, with No.2 (registration UU 5872) being the most famous as it raced at Le Mans and provided the groundwork for Bentley's factory win in 1930 with the Speed Six.
As those 1920s Blowers competed in three races in total, four cars for three events means Bentley alighted on the idea of building 12 more. Announcing the plan at the Salon Privé Concours d'Elegance, Adrian Hallmark, Bentley's chairman and CEO, said: "As we continue to commemorate 100 years of Bentley, we are combining a look to our past with the very latest digital technologies and techniques to create something truly extraordinary. The four Team Blowers are the most valuable Bentleys in the world, and we know there is demand for genuine recreations that can be used, enjoyed and loved without risk to the prized originals.
"The 12 new Blowers will not only be an homage to our heritage, they will be a celebration of the outstanding skills of our Mulliner craftspeople. This is a new challenge for Bentley, but with the incredible success of the recent restoration of our 1939 one-of-one Corniche, we wanted to go one step further and make something even more special. Twelve lucky customers will soon be able to own a unique tribute to Bentley's history."
Old informs new
To build the new Blowers, Bentley is going to disassemble its own example of the classic model - chassis number 3403 - and will catalogue and 3D-scan every single part on it to create a digital model of the vehicle. Using the original 1920s moulds and tooling jigs, and also traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology, Bentley will then create 12 sets of parts before the heritage technicians of Crewe get to work assembling the new Blowers. Wherever possible, Bentley says the Continuations will be 'mechanically, aesthetically and spiritually identical' to the originals, with only a few hidden changes to meet modern-day safety regs.
Once work has started on the 12 Continuations, chassis 3403 will be put back together, with a detailed inspection and mechanical restoration of the original taking place. Bentley still uses this 90-year-old car, as it completed this year's Mille Miglia, conducted a recent tour up the Californian coastline for a parade at Laguna Seca and it is regularly seen on the Hill Climb at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Each of the continuation Blowers will be powered by four-cylinder, 16-valve engines with an aluminium crankcase, cast-iron cylinder liners and a non-detachable cast-iron cylinder head. The supercharger will be an exact replica of the Amherst Villiers MkIV Roots-type blower, which will give the 4,398cc motor deliver around 245hp at 4,200rpm. Each of the 12 cars' structure will be a pressed steel frame, with half-elliptic leaf-spring suspension and copies of Bentley & Draper dampers. Braking will be handled by recreations of Bentley-Perrot 17.75-inch mechanical drums, while the steering will be worm-and-sector. Bentley says it will take Mulliner two years to complete the 12-car series, while prices will be on application only. Which means 'a lot'.