Bentley is building 12 of them and they will look just like the original

While we were waiting for new debuts at the 2019 Frankfurt Motor Show, Bentley made a surprising announcement at the 2019 Salon Prive Concours d’Elegance in Crewe, England. The British firm launched a continuation series of the iconic Bentley Blower, a car it originally sold back in 1929. Yes, Bentley is doing exactly what Jaguar did with cars like the E-Type Lightweight, D-Type, and XK-SS, but with a much older car. The Blower will thus become the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series.

12 Cars to celebrate 100 years of Bentley

You Finally Have a Chance to Own a 1929 Bentley Blower... Kind of
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The Blower series will be much more exclusive, with just 12 scheduled to exit the assembly line

Like most special edition launched in recent months, the Blower continuation series will celebrate Bentley’s 100th anniversary. The continuation series follows the success of the Blower-inspired Continental GT Number 9 Edition run, of which 100 were built. The Blower series will be much more exclusive, with just 12 scheduled to exit the assembly line. This is more than just a random number, as Bentley will build one new Blower for every race the original factory cars entered back in the day.

Only four of these original cars were raced, and they were known as Team Blowers. They were built by Sir Tim Birkin and were essentially a slightly lighter version of the Bentley 4 1/2 Litre road car. The Blower name was assigned to the supercharged version of the 4 1/2 Litre model, but not all race cars were actually supercharged. Birkin’s own car, featuring registration plate UU 5872, was raced at the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans, where it played a key role in the victory scored by the Bentley Speed Six.

Combining old-school craftsmanship with digital technology

You Finally Have a Chance to Own a 1929 Bentley Blower... Kind of
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Bentley says that the continuation cars will be "identical wherever possible to the original

So how is Bentley planning to build these "modern" Blowers? Well, the British company still owns one of the four original Blowers, and it’s going to disassemble it to its individual components. Each part will be cataloged and then scanned in 3D, so Bentley will have a digital model of the entire car. However, Bentley will use the original molds and tooling jigs, as well as the traditional hand tool from the 1920s, so the continuation Blower will be somewhat of a classic and should have a period-specific vibe.

You Finally Have a Chance to Own a 1929 Bentley Blower... Kind of
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Bentley says that the continuation cars will be "identical wherever possible to the original — mechanically, aesthetically and spiritually — only minimal hidden changes dictated by modern safety concerns." All 12 cars will be designed and assembled by the skilled folks from the Mulliner division, which usually handles bespoke Bentley vehicles. The 12 cars will be completed in about two years, which means that each vehicle will need two months of extensive work.

The original Blower that Bentley will disassemble for this project will be put back together after the company’s heritage team will do a mild mechanical restoration and a full inspection of the components and the body.

The rebirth of an iconic

You Finally Have a Chance to Own a 1929 Bentley Blower... Kind of
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The Blower was designed with more speed and racing capability in mind

Bentley has built many iconic vehicles throughout its history, but no pre-war car is as famous as the Blower. Based on the 4 1/2-Litre luxury sports car, it was designed with more speed and racing capability in mind. While W. O. Bentley extracted more speed from the original car by increasing engine capacity from 3.0 liters to 4.5 and them to 6.5, Sir Tim Birkin was impressed by a Roots-type supercharger developed by British engineer Amherst Villiers. Birkin persuaded Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato to let him create a series of supercharged cars for both road and track use. Bentley built 55 Blowers, of which five were prepared for racing duty. The race-spec Blowers generated 240 horsepower, notably more than the standard car, rated at 130 horses.

The Blower failed to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, a performance that its naturally aspirated sibling achieved in 1928, but it became famous as one of the fastest cars on the track in qualifying stages or until it had to retire due to poor reliability. The Blower was named the "fastest lorry in the world" by Ettore Bugatti, who was annoyed by the fact that his Type 35 race car almost lost the 1930 French Grand Prix to Bentley.

It will cost a fortune

You Finally Have a Chance to Own a 1929 Bentley Blower... Kind of
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Bentley has yet to announce pricing for the continuation series, but it won’t be cheap. Original 4 1/2-Liter models fetch in excess of $1.5 million nowadays, while Blower models are usually evaluated at more than $7 million. Given that Blowers rarely show up at auction events nowadays, Bentley will probably ask at least $3 million for one. It’s a steep price for the modern era, especially since you can buy 1,000-horsepower supercars for this sticker, but it’s an actual chance to own an original Blower, albeit built in 2020 or 2021. I’m pretty sure that the 12 models will sell out in no time.

Further reading

1927 - 1931 Bentley Blower
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Read our full review on the 1927 - 1931 Bentley Blower.

World-first for Bentley as its most revered pre-war race car given new lease of life in a stunning recreation
New cars will be created from Sir Tim Birkin’s famous 4½-litre Team Blower with Specialist Mulliner team expertise
12 new Blowers to be built, each identical to the original – one for every race the original Team Blowers entered
New Blowers follow sold-out success of 100 Blower-inspired Continental GT Number 9 Edition cars
Continuation Series announced at Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance
(8 September 2019, Crewe) One of the most thrilling and iconic cars from Bentley’s history – Sir Tim Birkin’s 1929 supercharged 4½-litre “Blower” – is to be reborn in a new series of 12 matching cars. Each is individually handcrafted by a specialist team 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 saw a fight to the finish on the racetracks of Europe, with the most famous car – Birkin’s own Team Car No. 2, registration UU 5872 – racing at Le Mans and playing a pivotal role in the factory Bentley Speed Six victory in 1930.

Now, using Bentley’s renowned handcraftsmanship and the very latest digital technology, the 1929 Team Blower will be the master example for 12 continuations - one for each race that the original rip-roaring 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 Chief Executive, Adrian Hallmark, who comments:
“As we continue to commemorate 100 years of Bentley, we are combining a look to our past with the very 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 12 new Blowers will not only be an homage to our heritage, they will be a celebration of the outstanding skills of our Mulliner craftspeople. This is a new challenge for Bentley, but with the incredible success of the recent restoration of our 1939 one-of-one Corniche, we wanted to go one step further and make something even more special. Twelve lucky customers will soon be able to own a unique tribute to Bentley’s history.”

Recreating the Blowers
Bentley’s own Team Blower – chassis number HB 3403 - 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. Using the original 1920s moulds and tooling jigs, and traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology, 12 sets of parts will then be created, before assembly. The 12 continuations will be identical wherever possible to the original – mechanically, aesthetically and spiritually – with only minimal hidden changes dictated by modern safety concerns. The original car will then be reassembled, with the heritage team taking the opportunity to complete a detailed inspection and sympathetic mechanical restoration where required.

It will take Mulliner approximately two years of meticulous work to complete the 12-car series. Prices will be on application.

The Iconic ‘Team Blower’
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, with the often-associated rival British sports car merely the MI6 “pool car”.

The Blower Bentleys were born from a philosophy devised by Sir Tim Birkin – notable racing driver and Bentley Boy – to extract more speed from the racing Bentleys of the day. While W.O Bentley’s method was to increase engine capacity – from 3-litre, to 4½-litre, to 6½-litre – Birkin was impressed by the Roots-type supercharger developed by British engineer Amherst Villiers, which boosted the 4½’s power from 130 bhp to 240 bhp in race tune. He persuaded Bentley Chairman Woolf Barnato to sanction production of 55 supercharged 4½-litre Bentleys, with five allocated for competition. The car on Bentley’s heritage fleet - UU 5872 - is the second of the four ‘Team’ cars developed at Birkin & Co’s workshops at Welwyn Garden City with funding from wealthy heiress the Hon. Dorothy Paget.

After a formidable racing history Team Car No. 2 was sympathetically restored in the 1960s, preserving much of its original patina. Owned by Bentley Motors since 2000, it has had only minor cosmetic maintenance, and is much as Birkin would have driven it. Since then it has competed in the modern Mille Miglia five times, has driven to Le Mans on several occasions and has also appeared at the Goodwood Festival of Speed as well as the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.

Mulliner – Bentley’s Bespoking and Coachbuilding Division
The Mulliner name has been intertwined with coachbuilding since 1760, when Francis Mulliner was commissioned to build carriages for the Royal Mail. In 1870, his grandson Robert formed Mulliner London Limited, and business blossomed with the advance of mechanically powered coaches. By the early 1900s they had opened a showroom in London’s prestigious Mayfair.

The 1923 Olympia Show in London saw the first collaboration between Robert’s son H.J. Mulliner and Bentley – a bespoke 3½-litre. The link between the two companies was formalised in 1959, with Mulliner becoming an official part of Bentley.

Today, the Mulliner workshop is based at the home Bentley in Crewe, where customers can personalise their own cars through collaboration with master designers and engineers. Their most recent triumph is the complete recreation of the 1939 Bentley Corniche – a Bentley concept car of the era, once thought lost to history, but now reborn thanks to the extensive and diverse range of skills present in Mulliner’s team of Master Craftsmen and Craftswomen.

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