Back in September 2019, British carmaker Bentley gave its Mulliner division a new mission: Build 12 reproduction models of Bentley’s iconic Blower, a vehicle of which is undoubtedly one of the brand’s most famous pre-WW2 era racing car.
The first original Blower was built in 1929 by Sir Henry Ralph Stanley Birkin (or Tim Birkin to his peers and the rest of the 1930s Bentley Boys) to rival the supercharged Mercedes SSK racing cars at Le Mans. The top brass at Bentley vehemently resisted the idea of forced-induction and preferred to build larger motors, instead. However, Sir Tim Birkin was not to be denied.
In the end, Birkin managed to build a working Blower prototype with 240 horsepower, which is almost double the output of the naturally-aspirated model. Eventually, Birkin was able to persuade Bentley in building 55 examples of the Blower, all of which are equipped with the brand’s iconic 4 ½-liter engine. And even though the Blower racing cars never won a single race, it remains a vital part of Bentley’s long and cherished history.
The new Bentley Blower Continuation Series is derived from one of the four Blower race cars Birkin built in 1929, specifically Chassis HB 3403. The plan is to strip down and disassemble the heritage model to the last bolt and use sophisticated 3D scanning to replicate each piece – and that’s what Mulliner did.
“After almost a year of highly detailed engineering work, it is extremely rewarding to see the first parts coming together to form the first Bentley Blower in over 90 years,” said Tim Hannig of Bentley Mulliner. “The skill of our engineers and technicians in completing hundreds of individual part specifications is equaled only by that of the artisans across the country that have handmade the components that we’re now starting to bolt together.”
The Blower Continuation’s chassis is hand-formed and hot riveted using heavy-gauge steel by Israel Newton & Sons Ltd., who’s been in business for 200 years and specializes in making boilers for traction engines and steel locomotives. Meanwhile, the Vintage Radiator Company is responsible for the vehicle’s nickel-plated radiator shell and fuel tank, while the leaf springs and shackles are made by Jones Springs Ltd.
You see, reviving a vintage race car to its exact specifications takes a ton of special hand-made parts that you won’t be able to easily find online. For instance, the legendary Blower headlights were crafted by Vintage Headlamp Restoration Ltd., which is a small father and son enterprise based in Sheffield, England. Also, the brand new ash frame is courtesy of Lomax Coachbuilders.
On the other hand, the iconic 4 ½-liter engine is recreated using a brilliant mix of the old and new. It now has aluminum pistons, an overhead camshaft, twin-spark ignition, and four valves per cylinder. It also gets a vintage-style Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger. According to Bentley, this set-up is good for 240 horsepower.
We’ll get a better glimpse of the first Bentley Blower Continuation model – lovingly referred to as Car Zero – this autumn. Bentley is only making 12 examples of the Blower Continuation with base prices starting at around £1.5-million (approx. $1.97-million) before taxes.