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, 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, registration UU 5872 – racing at Le Mans and playing a pivotal role in the factory Bentley Speed Six victory in 1930.
Now, using a combination of generations of handcraftsmanship skills 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 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 said:“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.”
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 an array of traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology, 12 sets of parts will then be created, before Bentley’s skilled heritage technicians assemble the new Blowers.
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.
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 project is the latest in a series of commissions for Mulliner, which includes the recent Continental GT Number 9 Edition – a stunning iteration of Bentley’s third generation Grand Tourer, inspired by the Team Blower.
Each of the 100 hundred cars being built features a piece of the original car set in to the dashboard, and the series sold-out immediately when announced.
As continuations of the original Team Blower, each of the new Continuation Series cars will feature four-cylinder, 16-valve engines with an aluminium crankcase with cast iron cylinder liners and non-detachable cast-iron cylinder head.
The supercharger will be an exact replica of the Amherst Villiers Mk IV roots-type supercharger, helping the 4398 cc engine to develop 240 bhp @ 4,200 rpm.
The car’s structure will be a pressed steel frame, with half-elliptic leaf spring suspension with copies of Bentley & Draper dampers. Recreations of Bentley-Perrot 40 cm (17.75”) mechanical drum brakes and worm and sector steering complete the chassis.
It will take Mulliner approximately two years of meticulous work to complete the 12-car series. Prices will be on application.