Now, the Blower Bentley is a car that many of you readers wouldn’t know about – unless you’re a motorsports nerd or huge Bentley fan, so here’s a short history lesson to get you up to speed.
The Blower Bentley is a race car built in 1929, based on the road-going Bentley 4 ½ Litre sports car. The ‘Blower’ name refers to the supercharger fitted to the base 4.4-litre (yes, we know) engine, pushing outputs from 110 bhp up to 240 bhp.
The Supercharged Bentley was actually commissioned by prominent Bentley racer Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, much to the dismay of founder W.O. Bentley. W.O. was quoted saying “To supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance.” Though, as he lost financial control over the Bentley company, he could not do anything to stop it.
A total of four race cars (and 50 road-going homologation units) were built, and they were “sensationally fast” on track. However, reliability was basically non-existent – especially with Birkin behind the wheel driving the only way he knew how to – flat out.
In the 1930 Le Mans, a certain Blower Bentley with registration number UU 5872 made a heroic pass on the Mercedes-Benz car with two wheels on the grass on the Mulsanne Straight. Both the Blower and Mercedes-Benz end up not finishing the race, which led the Bentley’s own factory team Speed Six car to take the victory.
Post-race myths claim that the Blower Bentley purposefully overextended the Mercedes in a ‘tortoise and hare’ strategy to let the Speed Six take victory. Though, it’s likely that the Blower would have won the race if only Birkin managed his race better.
Now 90 years later, Bentley is recreating the Blower in a 12-unit Continuation Series as a one-to-one mechanical copy, using none other than the UU 5872 as the master example.
The legendary Blower was taken apart, and painstakingly recreated digitally through a combination of laser-scanning and intricate hand measurements. The resulting CAD (computer-aided design) consists of 630 files spanning across 70 assemblies, with a file size of more than 2 GB.
Bentley says that the digital recreation took over 1,200 man-hours for two CAD engineers to complete. Interestingly, Bentley says that the engineers were able to complete the CAD model while working from home during the COVID-19 crisis. Imagine how cool it was to head home with a piece of the 90-year-old British racing heritage in your passenger seat!
All 12 units of the Continuation Series Blower Bentleys have been sold and are currently in the customisation phase – the collectors are able to choose their exterior and interior colour palette, as well as interior materials.
The cars will be built by Bentley’s Mulliner Classic coachbuilder division after the movement restriction order is lifted, beginning with a Car Zero engineering prototype. Of course, the 1929 car will be put back together and restored to its original condition, as it continues to make regular appearances at various international car shows and events – including the Millie Miglia and Goodwood Festival of Speed.