Bentley Putting Depression Era Darling Back Into Production

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
bentley putting depression era darling back into production

Even if antique autos aren’t your jam, you’ve probably heard of the Blower Bentley. It’s the exceptionally rare racing variant of the brand’s pre-war 4½ Litre model. While perhaps not as iconic as the 6½ Litre/Speed Six, the Blower has become prominent for its ultra-thirsty, persnickety powertrain and straight-line performance. By attaching a Roots-style supercharger to the engine, Bentley turned the standard 4½ Litre into an absolute freight train. Upon seeing it in action, Ettore Bugatti famously referred to the gigantic car as “the fastest lorry in the world.”

Seemingly inspired by other British manufacturers’ recent foray into continuation vehicles, Bentley has decided to rerelease the 1929 Team Blower for a limited production run. Like Jaguar’s XKSS and D-Type, as well as Aston Martin’s DB4 GT, the Bentley will be recreated as painstakingly close to the original as possible.

Racing versions of the Blower Bentley yielded 240 hp, which turned out to be more than its successor — the aforementioned Speed Six — could manage in any format. However, reliability issues created by more than doubling the 4½ Litre’s power output kept its drivers from spending any time atop a post-race podium. The car never managed to win 24 Hours of Le Mans, despite that being its sole purpose for existing. That has not, however, kept the model from being a highly coveted collectors’ car. Whereas naturally aspirated versions of the 4½ Litre sometimes fetch over $1 million at auction, Blower models can sextuple that price.

Bentley said prices will be furnished upon application but it’ll be too rich for you unless you also happen to have a private jet at your disposal. The automaker only plans on building 12 examples of the car, which it said would take the firm’s coachwork division (Mulliner) at least 2 years to complete. Depending upon where you live, you can get stellar knockoff versions of the 4½ Litre (including the Blower version) for roughly the same price as a Ferrari 812 Superfast or two — and with more modern/reliable hardware. But it won’t have Bentley’s seal of approval or perfectly match the look and feel of the original. That’s a privilege you’ll likely have to pay quite a bit extra for.

That puts us out of the running, not that Bentley would sell us the supercharged behemoth even if we actually had the necessary cash. But it’s nice to see so many long-lived nameplates interested in maintaining their heritage, even if it’s multi-millionaires who exclusively get to enjoy the end result. Perhaps we’ll still get to see the supercharged 4½ occupying the occasional high-end automotive event. Even catching one continuation Blower Bentley up close will trump this author’s previous experience with the model and, considering my automotive knowledge really starts to break down a few years before World War II, I could enjoy that moment without nit picking any minor gaps in its historic authenticity.

Fortunately for pre-war auto nuts, we doubt Bentley will leave many inconstancies to fret over. The company is pulling out all the stops for its 100th birthday and wants to make sure the amped-up 4½ Litre’s recreation is absolutely perfect.

[Images: Bentley]

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  • Chuckrs Chuckrs on Sep 10, 2019

    There is an Argentinian company, Pur Sang, doing this for Bugatti Type35s. They started as restoration specialists and found enough of a market to locally produce the entire car, from tires on up, in a manner similar to what Bugatti did almost a century ago. The only difference is better metallurgy for the engine and standard main bearings rather than the original needle bearings that wore out every few thousand miles. IIRC, a few years ago, they were a bargain at $250K. Leno has one.

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Sep 11, 2019

    So what is the rule on these continuation cars...How old do they have to be. For example, I have no interest in pre war Bentleys, but if GM built some "new" third gen IROC-Z's I would be inclined to put on my Van Halen shirt and write a massively to big of a number for such a car check. Or a real Fox Body Mustang LX. Given where numbers are for FD RX-7s, Type R Integras, and MK IV Supras, how much could their respective manufacturers get for limited runs.

  • Jeanbaptiste Any variant of “pizza” flavored combos. I only eat these on car trips and they are just my special gut wrenching treat.
  • Nrd515 Usually for me it's been Arby's for pretty much forever, except when the one near my house dosed me with food poisoning twice in about a year. Both times were horrible, but the second time was just so terrible it's up near the top of my medical horror stories, and I have a few of those. Obviously, I never went to that one again. I'm still pissed at Arby's for dropping Potato Cakes, and Culver's is truly better anyway. It will be Arby's fish for my "cheat day", when I eat what I want. No tartar sauce and no lettuce on mine, please. And if I get a fish and a French Dip & Swiss? Keep the Swiss, and the dip, too salty. Just the meat and the bread for me, thanks. The odds are about 25% that they will screw one or both of them up and I will have to drive through again to get replacement sandwiches. Culver's seems to get my order right many times in a row, but if I hurry and don't check my order, that's when it's screwed up and garbage to me. My best friend lives on Starbucks coffee. I don't understand coffee's appeal at all. Both my sister and I hate anything it's in. It's like green peppers, they ruin everything they touch. About the only things I hate more than coffee are most condiments, ranked from most hated to..who cares..[list=1][*]Tartar sauce. Just thinking about it makes me smell it in my head. A nod to Ranch here too. Disgusting. [/*][*]Mayo. JEEEEZUS! WTF?[/*][*]Ketchup. Sweet puke tasting sludge. On my fries? Salt. [/*][*]Mustard. Yikes. Brown, yellow, whatever, it's just awful.[/*][*]Pickles. Just ruin it from the pickle juice. No. [/*][*]Horsey, Secret, whatever sauce. Gross. [/*][*]American Cheese. American Sleeze. Any cheese, I don't want it.[/*][*]Shredded lettuce. I don't hate it, but it's warm and what's the point?[/*][*]Raw onion. Totally OK, but not something I really want. Grilled onions is a whole nother thing, I WANT those on a burger.[/*][*]Any of that "juice" that Subway and other sandwich places want to put on. NO, HELL NO! Actually, move this up to #5. [/*][/list=1]
  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.