In 1977, as a five year old, and totally crazy about cars, I was gifted a book by my father, called the Motor Car. It covered the history of the automobile from the early days of Cugnot steam engines till the latest cars for the time, the Jaguar XJS. This book was heavily influenced by the cars in UK and had a center spread of a two seat car in racing greens. The oddity was a silver coloured contraption ahead of the radiator grille. I was amused by this vehicle and could make out that is was something special and removed from the ordinary. It was the 4-1/2 litre Blower Bentley. The car was introduced in 1929.
Bentley are celebrating their 100th anniversary and how? At Salon Prive Concours d’Elegance, Adrian Hallmark, Chairman and Chief Executive of Bentley announced that 12 of these cars would built by Bentley over the next two years. Bentley shall use the modern technology from 21st century and traditional skills of its coach builder Mulliner to build these new cars. The existing car would be stripped, each components would be scanned in 3-D and catalogued. Each of the components and spares would be built and the car would then be hand built by master craftsperson from Mulliner.
Adrian Hallmark stated, “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 twelve 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.”
The Team Blower were four, 4-1/2 litre super charged Bentley cars built and raced by Sir Tim Birkin. These cars participated in twelve races in the late 1920s and early 1930s. Each of the new car being built will represent one of these races.
The Blower Bentleys were outright the fastest cars of the day. In those days, the philosophy was bigger the better. If you wanted a faster and more powerful car you increased the displacement of the engine. Bentley went ahead with increasing the engine size from 3 to 4-1/2 to 6-1/2 litres. However, Birkin was impressed by the concept of supercharging and the roots supercharger. Using this forced induction, he was able to extract 240 BHP from the 4-1/2 litre Bentley as compared to 130 BHP of he naturally aspirated engine.
Each of the continuation cars being built will be powered by a 4398 cc inline four cylinder 16 valve petrol engine. These engines will have an Aluminium crank case, cast iron cylinder liners and non-detachable cast iron cylinder heads as in the original. The supercharge being fitted to this engine would be an exact replica of the Amherst Villiers Mark IV roots type supercharger. This engine is capable of generating 240 BHP at 4200 rpm.
The car’s chassis would be made from pressed steel and suspended on half-elliptic springs with copies of Bentley draper dampers. The stopping power would be provided by copies of the original 17.75″ drum brakes.
The Blower bentleys made their racing debut at the 1930 Irish Grand Prix. Here Birkin came third. Then in the 1930 24 hours of Le Mans these cars played and important role in the retirement of the formidable 7 litre supercharged SSK of Mercedes. These cars also came in second during the 1930 Brooklands 500 handicap race where they were driven at an average speed of 179.4 km/h (112.12 mph).
The Blower is a beautiful car to look at with well proportioned dimensions. It looks purpose built for racing with minimal bodywork and huge wire wheels. The most endearing portion is the supercharger sitting at the bottom of the radiator grille which gives the car a menacing no-nonsense look.