It’s back to life for the Bentley ‘Blower’
A 90-year-old racing icon will be revived, built from scratch using the original moulds and tooling jigs
One of the most iconic cars from Bentley’s history — Sir Tim Birkin’s 1929 supercharged 4½-litre “Blower” — is to be reborn with a new build of 12 matching cars.
They will be each individually handcrafted by a team of specialists from Bentley’s bespoking and coachwork division, Mulliner. Together, the new cars will form the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series.
Only four original "Team Blowers" were built for racing by Birkin in the late 1920s. All were campaigned on the racetracks of Europe, with the most famous car — Birkin’s own Team Car No. 2 — racing at Le Mans and playing a pivotal role in the factory Bentley Speed Six victory in 1930.
Now, using a combination of handcraftsmanship skills and the latest digital technology, the 1929 Team Blower will be the master example for 12 continuations — one for each race that the original fleet of four Team Blowers competed in.
The Bentley Blower Continuation Series was announced today at the Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance by Bentley’s chairman and CEO, Adrian Hallmark, who says: “As we continue to commemorate 100 years of Bentley, we are combining a look to our past with the 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 new Blowers follow the recent restoration of a one-of-one 1939 Bentley Corniche.
Bentley’s own Team Blower will be disassembled to its individual components, before each part is catalogued and meticulously scanned in 3D to create a complete digital model of the entire car. The car will then be assembled using the original 1920s moulds and tooling jigs, and an array of traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology.
The 12 continuations will be identical wherever possible to the original, with only minimal hidden changes dictated by modern safety concerns.
The 90-year-old car is still used regularly on the road, including completion of this year’s Mille Miglia, daily hill runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed and a recent tour up the California coastline including a parade at Laguna Seca and culminating in the 2019 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where the car appeared with two of the other three Team Blowers.
The cars will be powered, like the original, by a 4.4l supercharged four cylinder engine with an output of 179kW.
It will take Mulliner about two years of work to complete the 12-car series. Prices will be on application.
No other pre-war Bentley had an impact like the supercharged 4½-litre "Blower" Bentley. While it never won an endurance race, the Blower Bentley was the outright fastest race car of the day, and counted among its fans the author Ian Fleming — who later decided that his famous fictional secret agent James Bond would drive a supercharged 4½-litre Bentley.
Five of the 55 supercharged 4½-litre Bentleys built were allocated for competition, including the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans.