Automotive

Bentley completes its first reverse-engineered 1929 Blower

Bentley completes its first re...
The master copy of Bentley's new, old Blower has been built and driven, a painstakingly accurate replica of the Team Blower originally built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s
The master copy of Bentley's new, old Blower has been built and driven, a painstakingly accurate replica of the Team Blower originally built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s
View 17 Images
The master copy of Bentley's new, old Blower has been built and driven, a painstakingly accurate replica of the Team Blower originally built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s
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The master copy of Bentley's new, old Blower has been built and driven, a painstakingly accurate replica of the Team Blower originally built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s
Tim Birkin had to drag Bentley kicking and screaming into the world of superchargers, but the performance leap was enormous
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Tim Birkin had to drag Bentley kicking and screaming into the world of superchargers, but the performance leap was enormous
The engine bay has almost a steampunk feel to it
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The engine bay has almost a steampunk feel to it
Race-ready lockwiring is a nice touch
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Race-ready lockwiring is a nice touch
Tesla's cars have a "ludicrous" mode, Bentley is going a little further – OK just kidding, it's an ignition timing lever
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Tesla's cars have a "ludicrous" mode, Bentley is going a little further – OK just kidding, it's an ignition timing lever
Bridge of Weir supplied the Oxblood-red leather
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Bridge of Weir supplied the Oxblood-red leather
Unusually shaped exhaust
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Unusually shaped exhaust
Spoked wheels on leaf spring suspension
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Spoked wheels on leaf spring suspension
Steering wheel and dash
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Steering wheel and dash
A busy dash will give drivers plenty to do with their hands
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A busy dash will give drivers plenty to do with their hands
A new classic in profile
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A new classic in profile
The Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger is unmissable between the meshed-over headlights
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The Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger is unmissable between the meshed-over headlights
Vented hood painted in gloss black
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Vented hood painted in gloss black
Back end is all business
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Back end is all business
The replica Bentley Blower, left, beside the original from which it was copied
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The replica Bentley Blower, left, beside the original from which it was copied
Bentley's "Continuation Series" Blower is a replica of the most valuable Bentley in the world, the Team Blower built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s.
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Bentley's "Continuation Series" Blower is a replica of the most valuable Bentley in the world, the Team Blower built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s.
A painstaking replica created by a team of craftsmen
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A painstaking replica created by a team of craftsmen
View gallery - 17 images

Bentley is 40,000 man-hours into its painstaking reverse-engineered, laser-scanned copy of the 1929 Bentley Blower, and has just announced the completion of "car zero" – the master prototype from which 12 "Continuation Series" cars will be built.

Having disassembled the 1929 Blower race car from its own collection – which is estimated to be the most valuable Bentley in the world – and measured and scanned every part, Bentley's Mulliner division has completed the hand-crafting of some 1,846 parts and put the first replica car together. From the series of photos released today, it seems like the dozen buyers who've already snapped these cars up will be getting their money's worth; it looks amazing.

Where the original is showing its age at 91, and has taken a bit of a beating in its life as a race car, the recreation looks a million dollars. From the perfect mesh over the headlights and grille, to the fresh metal of the engine, to the rich leather upholstery on the horsehair-stuffed seats and the bustling gauges on the dash panel, this thing's got a presence and class to it that'll spin heads wherever it's shown.

A busy dash will give drivers plenty to do with their hands
A busy dash will give drivers plenty to do with their hands

It's a goer, too; Bentley Chairman Adrian Hallmark drove it down Pyms Lane, which was Bentley's address from 1946 up until very recently, when the entire street was subsumed into the growing Bentley campus in Crewe.

"Today was a truly remarkable day," said Hallmark, "not just as a milestone in the Blower Continuation Series project but also for Bentley Motors. To drive the first new Blower in 90 years was a privilege, and the quality of the car would make Sir Tim Birkin himself proud. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and I’m pleased to report that the car drives just as beautifully as our original Team Car."

Bentley has funded a small army of super-niche specialist craftspeople to build these very old-school parts, and it's hard to argue with the results. The 4.5-liter engine wouldn't fit any modern dyno, so the team had to convert a 1930s-era test-bed that was formerly used to run in engines for WW2 fighter planes. The whole project has clearly been approached with love, and no small degree of reverence.

Bentley Mulliner will now road-test this prototype car for durability, driving around 5,000 miles (8,000 km) on a test track in a fashion designed to simulate the effects of roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 km) of real-world street mileage. This will include a top-speed test, which we hope is undertaken in a leather helmet and goggles.

The Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger is unmissable between the meshed-over headlights
The Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger is unmissable between the meshed-over headlights

It's an indulgent project, to be sure, that will swell the private collections of a handful of gazillionaires and do little else for humanity. But there's a charm to it, too, like watching somebody put together a fastidiously researched, period-perfect Glenn Miller Orchestra cover band. Jump into the gallery and enjoy some excellent photos of the new old Blower.

Source: Bentley

View gallery - 17 images
7 comments
buzzclick
Wow, when we describe a powerful car as a beast, this Bentley model has to be the first that epitomizes that description. It's a sculptural work of automotive art par excellence. It oozes character and power.

I first saw one in the flesh many years ago at the Lime Rock race track in Connecticut. It had fought a hard battle on the circuit, only to be retired with a bad oil leak, like a bleeding injured monster back from the battle. It made a huge impression on me and to me, the Blower has been an acme of pure British engineering and design uninfluenced by Italian styling. I envy the lucky bastards who get to have one of these Continuation models that have been painstakingly recreated...and a blue-chip investment that it is.
clay
Absolutely beautiful.

Manmade authentic, practical, functional, flowing, mechanical, ART
BlueOak
I remember when Adrian Hallmark came to Volkswagen of America, from Porsche UK, I think? Affable, congenial guy. Interesting way to promote Bentley’s tie to its past. One wonders whether they expect this exercise to be a self-funding break-even, fully recovering the development and product costs, or if it is being partially funded from the marketing budget?
Theodore41
Why reverse-engineered, laser-scanned copy?As the Company exists, I think that there had to exist the original blueprints of the model.
Daryl Cook
This Bentley is so Big and Beautiful, that it comes equipped with (and requires) Crew’s Control. How wonderful that with today’s technology, we can recreate seminal exemplars of yesteryear’s engineering marvels to ensure their survival for generations to come.
Worzel
Well, its kept a '' small army of super-niche specialist craftspeople,'' employed, where otherwise they may have become redundant and their skills wasted.
Cant be bad, even if the car itself is of little interest outside of motorheads!
Donna Cusano
Lovely! Now couldn't this technology transfer to the army of restorers and gearheads who collect classic and sports cars where parts have to be re-engineered?