You’re looking at the first new Bentley Blower for 90 years. Don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some sort of kit car made to look like the famous Blower used by the racing Bentley Boys in the 1920s. It is a perfect recreation which has taken a staggering 40,000 hours to build.
In a nutshell, what Bentley have done is take the original 1929 Bentley Blower from its museum, dismantle it, dig out the original designer sketches and plans used for the four Blowers built and raced by Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin in the late 1920s, and faithfully recreate an exact replica.
The 4.5 litre engine was stripped. So too was the supercharger, situated in front of the radiator, which gives the Bentley Blower its distinguished appearance. Every single component was laser scanned and new ones were then hand crafted. Bearing in mind this includes all the interior workings of the engine and supercharger, plus the dials, trim and numerous fixings, it’s easy to see why construction of this new Bentley Blower has taken so long.
The car you see here is a prototype for the Blower Continuation Series. This car will undergo rigorous testing and be used as the basis for 12 identical cars. All will be finished in gloss black with Oxblood red leather from Bridge of Weir.
The cars are built by Bentley Mulliner, which has three specialist divisions. The Blower is part of its Classic portfolio; Coachbuilt division is working on the stunning Bacalar, while Collections was responsible for the Continental GT Mulliner.
All credit to Bentley. It’s utilised some of the finest small companies across the UK to construct individual parts. For example, Israel Newton & Sons are a 200 year old company in Derby which traditionally makes boilers for steam locomotives and traction engines (as you do) – and they’ve made the Blower’s chassis.
The Vintage Car Radiator Company made the solid silver nickel radiator shell and petrol tank.
The father and son team behind Vintage Headlamp Restoration recreated the Blower’s iconic headlights from original plans.
Ludlow-based Lomax Coachbuilders built the car’s ash frame, while a blacksmith in the Midlands made the springs and shackles.
The seats, as per the originals, are stuffed with ten kilos of natural horsehair.
The seats, as per the originals, are stuffed with ten kilos of natural horsehair
Once the engine had been built, the Bentley engineers realised they had a problem. How to test it. There was nothing from the current range of Bentley cars which could be used so some old-school engine test beds were dusted off. They’d previously been used to run-in Merlin V12 engines found in WW2 Spitfire and Hurricane fighter aircraft.
So, what’s next? The car is about to embark on a 20,000 mile test programme. There will also be 5,000 miles of driving on tracks to simulate what the car went through on rallies such as Peking to Paris and Mille Miglia.
And at some point it will be driven to its absolute maximum speed approaching 140mph.
But why build this car in the first place? Some purists have moaned that it dilutes the kudos of the original. However, Bentley has been at pains to stress that it won’t be built as an image of their own 1929 race Blower. It won’t be the same colour and won’t feature the various graphics which appear on the original. Bentley has also used this exercise to completely restore their own car.
And of course, the new Bentley Blowers will not have one thing that the originals have by the bucketload: history.
Fancy one of the 12 new Blowers? Tough… they’re all already sold.
For more information, see bentleymotors.com