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						Bentley Blowers 8
Bentley to Build 12 Blower Continuations

Bentley honors 100 years by building 12 4 1/2-liter Blower…

By Dean Larson

Photos courtesy of Bentley

In honor of the company’s founding 100 years ago, Bentley has announced a continuation series of one of its most valuable and significant models — the 1929 4 1/2-liter “Blower.” The run of 12 identical cars will be patterned directly from Bentley’s own team Blower, car number HB 3403, which will be disassembled, cataloged and reassembled in the process.

While recognized as some of the most iconic and significant Bentleys of all time, the Blower Bentleys were really a dramatic departure Bentley’s standard procedure. See, when Bentley wanted to build a faster car in the 1920s, they increased engine capacity from 3-liter to 4 1/2-liter to 6 1/2-liters. But this in turn made the cars heavier and larger than their competition.

Enter racing driver Sir Tim Birkin, who believed that Bentley’s race cars could be much quicker by utilizing forced induction on a smaller and lighter 4 1/2-liter car. W. O. Bentley turned up his nose at the idea, stating that forced induction would “pervert its design and corrupt its performance.”

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But eventually Birkin got his way, leading to a line of Blower Bentleys with a supercharger hanging over the front axle. These roots-style superchargers were provided by British engineer Amherst Villiers, and were driven directly by the crankshaft. Five team cars were allotted, which produced 240 hp, 110 more than the standard 4 1/2-liter, and an additional 50 production cars were scheduled for homologation purposes.

And while the iconic Blower Bentleys never won an endurance race, their performance was captivating, and they were the fastest outright cars of the day. Birkin and other Bentley Boys piloted the Blower cars throughout 1930, with Birkin’s car playing a pivotal role in the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year.

Racing hard against the supercharged 7-liter Mercedes Benz SSK, it’s said that Birkin’s Blower helped wear out the SSK early, allowing Bentley’s Speed Sixes to take the checkered flag. The remaining Bentley Blowers were sold soon after in 1931 after racing 12 races.

To create its line of Blower continuation cars, Bentley plans to disassemble the most significant example, team car No. 2, which raced at Le Mans in 1930. All parts will be catalogued and 3D scanned, and the car will then receive a sympathetic mechanical restoration, preserving as much of its patina as possible.

Tackling the work on the original car and the construction of the continuation cars, is Bentley’s specialty coachwork division Mulliner. Based in Crewe, Mulliner has done coachwork for Bentley since 1923, and became a formal part of Bentley in 1959. The family name has been associated with the industry since 1760.

The recreated Blower Bentleys will be as identical to the original cars as possible, with just a few adjustments for current safety regulations. Engines stay true to the original 16-valve four-cylinder with aluminum crankcases and cast-iron cylinder liners. Frames will be manufactured from pressed steel and utilize half-elliptic leaf springs.

It’s estimated that the cars will take about two years to complete, and Bentley will be accepting applications for the opportunity to purchase each of the 12 continuations. As far as price goes, Bentley isn’t telling right now, but we’re willing to bet it follows that old saying. If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.

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