This could be the oldest 'new' engine in the world.
It's been just over a month since Bentley began building an engineering prototype of its 1929 4.5-liter "Team Blower", which it called Car Zero. The 'Blower' name referred to the car's Roots-type supercharger, and the original car - intended for racing by Sir Tim Birkin - will be brought back to life with 12 perfect, exact examples as part of the brand's continuations series.
The road to building the first Bentley Blower in over 90 years has been a complex one, but the project took a big step forward over the last week or two as the first newly created supercharged engine, based on the original 1928 design, came to life at the company's manufacturing plant in Crewe. Yes, a nearly century-old engine design was fired up once more, but maybe it's not a surprise since Bentley engines tend to stick around for far longer than is typical.
On a unique testbed that was originally used as a means to run-in Merlin V12 aircraft engines, the new supercharged engine was fired up. Getting the testbed ready was a process itself, as it required building a replica of the Blower front chassis that could hold the engine. Once this was done, it was mounted to an engine dynamometer that is computer-controlled.
The engine was first started up two weeks ago and, following a run-in phase, it will undergo gradually more stringent testing, with engine speed and load conditions to be increased. Even though only 12 Bentley Blowers will be made, these are still Bentleys that will be sold to the most discerning customers and collectors.
As such, the engine will be tested comprehensively for real-world durability with 35,000 kilometers (21,748 miles) of regular driving and another 8,000 km (497 miles) on track.
Before being supercharged, this 4½-litre engine represented the best in engine technology for the period with features like a single overhead camshaft and aluminum pistons. The racing version made around 130 horsepower, before the supercharger boosted that to 240 horses. Yes, even the least powerful Bentley Bentayga has over twice as much power, but those were darn good numbers for the time.
It's going to be fascinating to follow the story of the Bentley Blower coming to life once more.