Should Collectors Worry About Continuation Cars?

Posted April 27, 2020

By Dean Larson

Photos: Bentley

Back in 2019, we reported on Bentley’s 1929 4.5-liter “Blower” continuation cars, a scheduled run of 12 cars, manufactured to exacting specifications obtained from Bentley’s own team car. While all 12 cars were spoken for immediately for untold sums, collectors of original cars have recently raised a fuss over the continuations, arguing that they will dilute the value and prestige of their cars.

Green-lit straight from the top and tackled by Bentley’s long-time specialty coachwork division, Mulliner, it was clear these cars would be proper continuations from the get-go. Mulliner would start by disassembling, categorizing and conducting thorough 3D scans of the original car before starting a sympathetic restoration. All the data collected would ensure that the continuation cars were the most accurate product possible for Bentley’s distinguished clients.

The prospect of high-dollar, exacting continuation cars being offered from an original manufacturer is of course nothing new. Aston Martin and Jaguar are the two most prominent examples of late, but of course Shelby has been in the business for years, along with other smaller manufacturers like Lister. So why then are Bentley owners so disgruntled?

The owners in question, including the likes of Ralph Lauren, Lord Bamford, Evert Louwman and William E ‘Chip’ Connor, wrote a letter to Bentley front man Adrian Hallmark expressing their concerns. Chiefly, the group feels that the new continuation cars may "dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article." It’s no surprise the group's comments also address the value of their cars, citing “[the continuation cars] blur the line between real and fake and arguably devalue the authentic cars that private owners have cherished and preserved since long before manufacturers took an interest, it feels as if the gamekeeper has turned poacher.”

At the end of the day, I think it’s easy to understand that these folks might have some negative feelings over their prized originals being replicated, but it’s pretty tough to sympathize with them. The comment that the continuation cars may “dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article” reflects really poorly on them in my book. I’m sure getting up close and personal with one of the original Bentley Blowers is a breathtaking, near religious experience. But this comment suggests that this should be your sole experience with these cars. Yes, please look at my car in awe and admiration, but heaven forbid you get the opportunity to buy one yourself. It’s the preservation of exclusivity and the pricelessness of their personal assets that I take away from these comments, and having spent years immersed in kits and continuations, that’s not what we’re about.

Get the cars out there, and let more people experience them. Maybe that gigantic Blower re-creation is seen by a young child who vows that one day, he’ll have one of those, just like most of us did seeing cool classics in our formative years.

Ultimately Bentley has vowed to make the cars anyway:

“After much research and discussion with a number of the stakeholders – vintage Bentley owners, restorers, specialists and a selection of Bentley Drivers’ Club and Benjafield’s Racing Club members – we tested the idea of making an official Continuation Series and were overwhelmed with the positivity of the response.

While we heard some similar concerns to those expressed in the letter, the vast majority of feedback was hugely supportive of the project. Hence we went ahead.”

The company has also cited that the continuation cars “will not be the same colour or feature the same graphics and so will be instantly recognizable as continuation cars."

So at the end of the day, the cars will be made and will find enthusiastic owners. And you and I may even get the chance to view one of the cars ourselves, and experience that special admiration and awe from an exhilarating classic car in its natural environment.

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Bentley Continuation