Continuation series have become a trend with especially British automakers eager to celebrate their histories. Consider the Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato, the Jaguar D-type continuation cars, projects by Lister and Alvis, and, of course, Shelby American’s continuation Cobras.
And this weekend, at the Britain’s Salon Privé Concours d’Elegance, Bentley joined in, announcing that it would do a pre-war continuation series, building 12 brand-new Blower Bentleys, re-creations of Tim Birkin’s famed 1929 supercharged 4½-liter car.
Why only 12 examples? In honor of the 12 times Birkin raced his car.
Bentley said each car will be “individually handcrafted by a specialist team from Bentley’s bespoking and coachwork division, Mulliner. Together, the new cars will form the world’s first pre-war race car continuation series.”
Birkin built four “Team Blowers” in the late 1920 for racing. Birkin raced Team Car No. 2 and that vehicle will be the ‘master’ for the 12 continuation cars, Bentley said.
“As we continue to commemorate 100 years of Bentley, we are combining a look to our past with the very latest digital technologies and techniques to create something truly extraordinary,” said Bentley chairman and chief executive Adrian Hallmark.
“The four Team Blowers are the most valuable Bentleys in the world, and we know there is demand for genuine re-creations that can be used, enjoyed and loved without risk to the prized originals.
“The 12 new Blowers will not only be an homage to our heritage, they will be a celebration of the outstanding skills of our Mulliner craftspeople.
“This is a new challenge for Bentley, but with the incredible success of the recent restoration of our 1939 one-of-one Corniche, we wanted to go one step further and make something even more special.”
“No other pre-war Bentley had an impact like the supercharged 4½-litre ‘Blower’ Bentley,” the company said. “While it never won an endurance race, the Blower Bentley was the outright fastest race car of the day, and counted among its fans the author Ian Fleming – who later decided that his famous fictional secret agent James Bond would drive a supercharged 4½-litre Bentley, with the often-associated rival British sports car merely the MI6 “pool car.”
“The Blower Bentleys were born from a philosophy devised by Sir Tim Birkin – notable racing driver and Bentley Boy – to extract more speed from the racing Bentleys of the day. While W.O. Bentley’s method was to increase engine capacity – from 3-liter, to 4½-liter, to 6½-liter – Birkin was impressed by the Roots-type supercharger developed by British engineer Amherst Villiers, which boosted the 4½’s power from 130 horsepower to 240 in race tune.
“He persuaded Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato to sanction production of 55 supercharged 4½-liter Bentleys, with five allocated for competition. The car on Bentley’s heritage fleet — UU 5872 — is the second of the four ‘Team’ cars developed at Birkin & Co’s workshops at Welwyn Garden City.
Still owned by Bentley, chassis HB 3403 will be disassembled with each part 3D-scanned “to create a complete digital model of the entire car. Using the original 1920s molds and tooling jigs, and traditional hand tools alongside the latest manufacturing technology, 12 sets of parts will then be created.
“The 12 continuations will be identical wherever possible to the original – mechanically, aesthetically and spiritually – with only minimal hidden changes dictated by modern safety concerns. The original car will then be reassembled, with the heritage team taking the opportunity to complete a detailed inspection and sympathetic mechanical restoration where required.”
Bentley said the process of producing a dozen continuation cars will take two years, and that pricing will be discussed with customers who apply to purchase the cars.