Bentley is 40,000 man-hours into its painstaking reverse-engineered, laser-scanned copy of the 1929 Bentley Blower, and has just announced the completion of “car zero” – the master prototype from which 12 “Continuation Series” cars will be built.
Having disassembled the 1929 Blower race car from its own collection – which is estimated to be the most valuable Bentley in the world – and measured and scanned every part, Bentley’s Mulliner division has completed the hand-crafting of some 1,846 parts and put the first replica car together. From the series of photos released today, it seems like the dozen buyers who’ve already snapped these cars up will be getting their money’s worth; it looks amazing.
Where the original is showing its age at 91, and has taken a bit of a beating in its life as a race car, the recreation looks a million dollars. From the perfect mesh over the headlights and grille, to the fresh metal of the engine, to the rich leather upholstery on the horsehair-stuffed seats and the bustling gauges on the dash panel, this thing’s got a presence and class to it that’ll spin heads wherever it’s shown.
It’s a goer, too; Bentley Chairman Adrian Hallmark drove it down Pyms Lane, which was Bentley’s address from 1946 up until very recently, when the entire street was subsumed into the growing Bentley campus in Crewe.
“Today was a truly remarkable day,” said Hallmark, “not just as a milestone in the Blower Continuation Series project but also for Bentley Motors. To drive the first new Blower in 90 years was a privilege, and the quality of the car would make Sir Tim Birkin himself proud. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and I’m pleased to report that the car drives just as beautifully as our original Team Car.”
Bentley has funded a small army of super-niche specialist craftspeople to build these very old-school parts, and it’s hard to argue with the results. The 4.5-liter engine wouldn’t fit any modern dyno, so the team had to convert a 1930s-era test-bed that was formerly used to run in engines for WW2 fighter planes. The whole project has clearly been approached with love, and no small degree of reverence.
Bentley Mulliner will now road-test this prototype car for durability, driving around 5,000 miles (8,000 km) on a test track in a fashion designed to simulate the effects of roughly 22,000 miles (35,000 km) of real-world street mileage. This will include a top-speed test, which we hope is undertaken in a leather helmet and goggles.
It’s an indulgent project, to be sure, that will swell the private collections of a handful of gazillionaires and do little else for humanity. But there’s a charm to it, too, like watching somebody put together a fastidiously researched, period-perfect Glenn Miller Orchestra cover band. Jump into the gallery and enjoy some excellent photos of the new old Blower.