By on September 9, 2019

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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21 Comments on “Bentley Putting Depression Era Darling Back Into Production...”

  • avatar

    Think about how exciting it would be to:

    1. Have enough farting around money to buy this
    2. Working with Bentley on your bespoke Blower
    3. Putting it away in your garage to appreciate and bring you more money than your next leveraged buyout, M&A, or real estate development.

    Oh yea, and drive it now and then to the country club or airplane hanger to shame both hoi polloi AND the neavue riche…..

  • avatar

    “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.”

    I’m sure Jay Leno will be 1st, 2nd, or at least 3rd on the list! Gotta Have It for Jay’s Garage!!!!

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    I remember John Steed of the Avengers ‘driving’ a pre-War Bentley in at least one season. This is confirmed by Ronnie Schrieber’s TTAC article following Patrick Macnee’s death.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    I can see Leno definitely getting one of these.

  • avatar

    I did not get it. Can I clean up my back yard with it or not?

  • avatar

    On the serious note: I love that idea – for those (us) who missed excitement of Golden Age of automobile to be able to experience it in all its glory.

    I suggest GM to reissue 1958 edition of Pontiac Bonneville Convertible in all its space age glory with jet engine exhaust appliques on doors and quarter panels in two tone blue/white exterior and matching blue/white vinyl interior. Much more excitement than this blower from Bentley (never knew they made blowers) which looks more like steam engine puffer from 19th century.

  • avatar

    There is a British company making these type of replicas , usually not a copy of a particular Bentley.
    They take standard 1950s Bentley sedans and remove the body from the chassis, update the electrics and hydraulics of the mostly six cylinder engine and put a completely new body on. Best of all its still a Bentley with its original chassis plate, and just a different coach built body.
    Check it out , some pretty cool ‘1930s looks’, open top, closed coupe etc

    There is a similar named Racing Green company which updates Jaguars and TVRs.

  • avatar

    Wow, insane. You couldn’t imagine a carmaker doing this 20 years ago. I can’t imagine making all the parts that are going to be required for these, for just twelve examples (and some spares).

  • avatar

    I went to a Bentley Drivers’ Club meeting about two years ago. Those guys drive all over the place in real pre-war Bentleys. The cars are decidedly used looking on close examination, although I’m sure many of them are still priceless. Is this an effort by VW to capitalize on the relative scarcity of Bentley Boys cars compared to the supply of billionaire free-traders?

    • 0 avatar

      I’m sure it is, although you would think they would build more than 12 in that case.

      I actually know a local gentleman who has a 4 1/2 Litre that he drives in events (along with many other rare classic cars). I highly doubt he is a billionaire but it is refreshing to see people driving cars instead of storing them away out of sight.

  • avatar

    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.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    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.

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