Blast in the past: the rebirth of the Bentley Blower Continuation driven Car News

Over the years, most of the racing cars that have captured the imagination of the public have not been Formula 1 machines but sports cars, especially those that have raced at Le Mans. We know their names: the Jaguar D-Type, the Ferrari Testa Rossa, the Ford GT40, the Porsche 917… They have all been phenomenally successful. Of course they were. So how could a complete failure become revered and be as much a part of motor racing tradition as any multiple Le Mans winner? Well, look at it.

The supercharged 4½-liter Bentley didn’t win Le Mans, or any other race, for that matter. It was a car that WO Bentley himself hated and was blamed in part – and wrongly – for contributing to the bankruptcy of the original Bentley company in 1931. Yet here it is. When you think of a vintage Bentley, it’s not a nimble 3-liter, a non-supercharged 4½-liter or a Speed ​​Six that comes to mind – and they’ve all won Le Mans, no less than five times in seven attempts between 1924 and 1930. It is this car, the Bentley informally but eternally known simply as the Blower.

The reason is due to the most famous of the Bentley Boys, Sir Henry Birkin. Supercharging was his shortcut to more horsepower, and he put the Bentley board on the WO’s side, a lone dissenting voice. They would build 50 road cars and four “Team” cars, which would go on to race with Bentleys but from a separate team, that of wealthy Dorothy Paget, whose money funded the project. And it’s this image of Birkin hammering the Mulsanne Strait or around the shore of Brooklands, a polka dot scarf fluttering in the wind in the force of hurricanes that is, for the most part, the constant image of the vintage Bentley.

Of those four blowers, Birkin’s favorite was number two, the car in which, during the Le Mans 1930s, he overtook the works Mercedes-Benz SSKs of German ace Rudolf Caracciola on the Mulsanne straight, in part on the grass, with a ragged tire. and at anything over 120 mph. The car survives today, as it did then in every way that matters, making it the most original of all vintage Bentley racing cars. It is owned by the factory and has been valued at £ 25million. And while it’s Millbrook today for me to drive, it’s not the car I came to see and taste. But a very like that.

At the end of 2019, Bentley announced that it would manufacture 12 additional blowers, each as close as possible to the original specification of number two. Not replicas, but tool room copies, authentic facsimile reproductions, each constructed in the same way, using the same materials and with the same type of tools.

Almost 2,000 parts later, each individually handcrafted from original drawings or scanned data of the actual team car, and not to mention 40,000 hours of effort, the first is ready. Or should I say the 13th? The black Blower you see here is what they call Car Zero, a test and development prototype that will be kept alongside the real team car forever. It is available in gloss black paint, as interior and exterior colors are pretty much the only thing a customer has free choice over. It also has front and rear mounted LED lights, an inelegant but very necessary requirement of its testing regime. Otherwise, it is the same as Birkin’s car in all important respects.

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This notice was published: 2021-04-20 23:01:24