RECREATING A LEGEND
In 2020, Mulliner Classic embarked on the first project in its Continuation Series. By combining the latest digital technology with time-honoured craft techniques, the team created a prototype of the first new Bentley Blower for close to 90 years – followed by a dozen new cars.
A JOURNEY THROUGH THE ANNALS OF TIME
The team began work in earnest by sympathetically and carefully dismantling a priceless 1929 Bentley Team Blower. The aim was to catalogue and digitally scan each individual component, to create a complete digital model of this legendary car that could then be used as a blueprint for the new cars.
Yet even after creating their digital catalogue and, crucially, restoring the Team Blower to its original state, significant challenges remained – starting with the availability of parts. Components for a car built in the Roaring Twenties can’t just be ordered online, after all.
The team therefore made almost every part from scratch, in many cases using the original 1920s moulds and tooling jigs, to ensure they matched those in the original car exactly. They then assembled the first new coachbuilt Bentley Blowers to be built since the era of the Bentley Boys.
THE STORY OF THE BLOWER
No other pre-war Bentley is as famous as the supercharged 4½-litre that came to be known as the ‘Blower’. It emerged during Bentley’s racing heyday in the 1920s. W.O. Bentley was convinced that the most effective way to increase power was to build bigger engines. But one of his drivers, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, had seen the effect of superchargers on other cars and wanted to do the same to a Bentley.
When W.O. refused, Birkin used a Roots-type supercharger developed by British engineer Amherst Villiers to increase the Bentley 4½’ Litre’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 financial support from Bentley Girl Dorothy Paget.
While reliability issues meant it never won an endurance race, the Blower was the fastest racing car of its day. It counted amongst its fans the author Ian Fleming, who decided that his fictional secret agent, James Bond, would drive a supercharged 4½-litre Bentley. The car he is more often associated with was merely the MI6 ‘pool car’ in the books.
Read more about the original Blower here.
A HOMAGE TO A CLASSIC
The 90-year old Bentley Team Blower is still used regularly, from Italy's gruelling Mille Miglia to daily hill runs at the Goodwood Festival of Speed – and even a recent tour up the California coastline. So not only did it have to be taken apart carefully, but it also had to be restored to perfect working order.
Each part was meticulously catalogued and scanned in 3D, enabling the team to build a digital model of the entire car. The new cars would follow this blueprint to the letter, with exceptions only being made where necessary to meet modern safety regulations.
The Bentley Team Blower was then reassembled, with the team conducting a detailed inspection and sympathetic mechanical restoration where required.
A PROTOTYPE CLASSIC CAR
After 40,000 man-hours of work, the first new Bentley Blower in close to 90 years was complete. Blower Car Zero was a development prototype, built in advance of the customer cars and subjected to months of durability and performance testing.
The test programme was designed to achieve the equivalent of 35,000 kilometres of real-world driving, including 8,000 kilometres of track driving. Sessions of gradually increasing duration and speed were used to check the car’s functionality and robustness, even under the harshest conditions.
Car Zero’s successful completion of testing allowed the team to begin the assembly of the 12 customer cars, each one individually specified and, of course, crafted by hand.
A STORY TO BE CONTINUED
As direct descendants of the original Team Blower, each of the new Continuation Series cars featured four-cylinder, 16-valve engines with an aluminium crankcase, cast iron cylinder liners and non-detachable cast-iron cylinder heads. The all-important supercharger, meanwhile, is an exact replica of the Amherst Villiers Mk IV roots-type supercharger, helping the 4,398 cc engine to develop 240 bhp at 4,200 rpm.
The car’s structure consists of a pressed steel frame, with half-elliptic leaf spring suspension and perfect copies of the original Bentley & Draper dampers. Recreations of Bentley-Perrot 40 cm (17.75”) mechanical drum brakes and worm and sector steering complete the chassis.
This was the first Mulliner Continuation Series, followed by the Speed Six Continuation Series.. To make enquiries about the next car to be recreated by Mulliner Classic, please talk to your Bentley dealer or contact us directly on +44 (0) 1270 653 653.