Bentley Builds First New Blower In Nearly A Century

Classic Cars / Comments

And it looks absolutely magnificent.

Bentley just completed work on its first 4½ Litre "Blower" in nine decades, piecing together the first example of a 12-car continuation series the British marque is working on.

Actually, it's not even the first example; technically, Bentley says, this is "Car Zero" - a prototype for the rest of the series, which is already pre-sold. The carmaker plans to use Car Zero as a dedicated test and development prototype, subjecting it to months of durability and performance testing to ensure that the dozen Blowers it ships to customers are of the expected quality. It sounds a bit silly, the thought of Bentley doing the same sort of development testing on a 90-year-old car as it might do on, say, a new Continental, but it makes sense given how the Blower was reborn: through reverse-engineering an original 1929 Bentley Team Car with precise laser-scanning and extensive CAD work.

Bentley
Bentley
Bentley
Bentley

A total of 1,616 individual parts, plus 230 assemblies, were painstakingly digitally recreated using this process, and subsequently brought to life by engineers, craftspeople, and technicians with Bentley's bespoke Mulliner division, working alongside a number of British specialists and suppliers.

It's a wonderful, if unlikely, mix of 21st century tech and pre-war artisanal techniques. The chassis, for instance, was hand-formed and hot-riveted from heavy-gauge steel by specialists with the 200-year-old Israel Newton & Sons Ltd. The Vintage Car Radiator Company was tasked with exactly recreating parts like the Blower's mirror-polished solid nickel silver radiator shell and hand-beaten, steel-and-copper fuel tank.

Leaf springs and shackles were made by Jones Springs Ltd. to the exact original specifications, and the Blower's trademark round headlamps were fashioned by the world-renowned father-and-son team at Vintage Headlamp Restoration International Ltd.

Bentley
Bentley
Bentley
Bentley
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And then, there's the beating heart of the whole car: the engine, which was originally designed by Walter Owen Bentley himself. It has a number of surprisingly modern features, like aluminum pistons, a magnesium crankcase, dual-overhead camshafts with four valves per cylinder, and twin-spark ignition, all of which were painstakingly recreated with support from NDR Ltd. A special engine testbed had to be prepared just to test the motor, which involved making a replica Blower front chassis to hold it so that it could be mounted to the computer-controlled dynamometer.

The whole thing was an intense labor of love, of the sort seldom seen from automotive companies these days. In all, Bentley spent 40,000 hours on the design and build of Car Zero, just to ensure that each of its 12 Blower customers gets the best, most faithful recreation of the original thing possible.

Bentley
Bentley
Bentley
Bentley

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