By on April 22, 2020

Bentley

Bentley types are a discerning breed. Well versed in the world of leather and wood and highly respectful of heritage, these people interact with the brand like a museum curator. And the most discerning among them, those who claim to be most committed to preserving all that’s good and pure about the marque, aren’t happy with the automaker’s plan to hit “repeat.”

A present-day automaker churning out copies of a 90-year-old model? Blasphemy!

If you weren’t aware, last September saw Bentley announce plans to recreate a famous pre-war race car — the 1929 supercharged 4.5-litre “Blower” driven by Sir Tim Birkin’s Team Blower. Reverse engineered by the folks at Mulliner, a rear ’29 Blower would serve as the muse for 12 hand-built recreations. A “continuation” series, in OEM parlance, built via 3D digital scans and original tools and molds.

At the time, CEO Adrian Hallmark stated, “The twelve 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. Twelve lucky customers will soon be able to own a unique tribute to Bentley’s history.”

Lucky, indeed, as only four of the original purpose-built Blowers ever saw the light of day.

Bentley

Not everyone’s pleased at Bentley’s move. As Autocar reports, a cadre of Bentley-loving bigwigs is out to challenge the automaker, accusing it in a signed letter of something approaching heresy.

From Autocar:

However, according to the letter, which is signed by such luminaries of the classic car world as Ralph Lauren, Lord Bamford, Evert Louwman and William E ‘Chip’ Connor, the run of Blower recreations would “dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article”.

Most marques are the guardians of their own history, caretakers of records, cars and legacy,” said signatory Simon Kidston, renowned classic specialist and nephew of 1920s ‘Bentley Boy’ Glen Kidston. “When a major manufacturer starts building ‘genuine recreations’ decades out of period, which blur the line between real and fake and arguably devalue the authentic cars that private owners have cherished and preserved since long before manufacturers took an interest, it feels as if the gamekeeper has turned poacher.”

Bentley responded by saying its intentions were not to water down the importance or value of what came before, adding that it is aware of such a sentiment among brand diehards. Rather, by creating faithful reproductions — basically, the exact same car — the automaker said it can preserve the existing Blowers. The new builds can stand in for it at non-sporting, non-critical events.

“While we heard some similar concerns to those expressed in the letter, the vast majority of feedback was hugely supportive of the project. Hence we went ahead,” a company spokesperson said.

Bentley adds that the 12 new builds will feature a different paint job and graphics than the original, so as to be “instantly recognisable as continuation cars.”

[Images: Bentley]

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12 Comments on “Respectful Tribute, or Unholy Changeling? Group of Bentley Diehards Toss ‘Continuation’ Models in the Latter Heap...”


  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    It’s like those Pur-Sang Bugattis and Alfas. There are enthusiasts that prefer to drive the cars. Unless you are Jay Leno however, most of these cars have reached a level where the value makes doing so a non enjoyable experience at least.

    These aren’t VW based kits…they are, in the case of the Put Sangs faithful replicas. This allows enthusiasts to drive them without worry of destroying an irreplaceable original.

    Bentley guys were I thought like the Bugatti guys that, by in large, don’t tend to put the cars in a bubble so this makes sense. I think the outrage is these owners worried auction prices could be effected. This is a tiny pool of buyers and if a couple of them are good with the replicas then it could effect pricing. Still, if someone’s collection burned to the ground and 25 percent of the potential supply went away the prices could also be effected and I doubt the owners would complain. So long as you don’t get any Carroll Shelby “hey I found some Cobra bodies I forgot about” nonsense, I’m good with replicas. With something like this nobody will pass off one as real. They know of the real ones.

    • 0 avatar
      PrincipalDan

      Yeah if I ever see one of these early Bentleys on the road I’m going to automatically assume that it is a replica. (Unless I’m in California and near Leno’s warehouse.)

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    No knowledgeable person will mistake the reproductions from the originals.

    For the rest of us, it is simply an opportunity to see what these things were like back in the day, because we will never see the original.

    This would be like the Louvre raging that I have a copy of the “Mona Lisa” in my living room, for all my guests to see.

    • 0 avatar
      Kendahl

      I think it would be more like the Louvre complaining because you made what would be a very good forgery except that you signed your own name to it.

      I agree that it won’t be difficult to distinguish between the originals and the new ones. Manufacturing techniques have improved greatly over 90 years. The new ones will be better made.

  • avatar
    Vulpine

    Personally, I think these recreations would enhance the value of the originals by making the type more visible and therefore increase the desire to own one–not dilute it.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    Guys, read the room – probably not the time for some petty little rich guy dispute. I swear the world’s rich and famous are so bored they’re trying to see who can be most out of touch just to amuse themselves.

    Now, on one hand, for the less elite who’d like to experience one of these, there are plenty of fast lorries available today. On the other hand, the real ones will always have the history and patina that the continuations won’t, they’re still there to appreciate and confer exclusivity on their caretakers. Plus, there might be some small benefit to having Bentley’s modern engineers get hands on experience poking around some heritage models, it might inspire them on some minor aspect on new cars.

  • avatar
    la834

    Ford did build a few Model Ts for its 100th anniversary

  • avatar
    johnny ro

    This is wonderful.

    If Bently makes it, it is a Bentley.

    It will be quite expensive, and have a serial number for each. No worries on the original’s value.

    I wish BMW would reintroduce the 1960s Neuclasse. And VW, the Mark I Golf, European version.

    I wonder if they will use actual 90 year old specs for things like wiring and brake friction surface. And metallurgy.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Way, _WAY_ above my pay grade but I’d enjoy driving a replica .

    I never heard about the centennial ‘T’ Model Fords, that sounds cool .

    -Nate

  • avatar
    Schurkey

    How are they going to make “exact” replicas when they’re not allowed to put asbestos in the clutch and brake linings, or the gaskets?

    Does Saudi Arabia and Dubai (UAE) have emissions-control legislation?

    They’ll have to go to North Korea to get metal crappy enough to match the original.

    The lathes and gear-hobbers will have to be deliberately worn-out and misadjusted. Machine tools used to make the originals probably don’t exist any more. They gonna CNC-CAM these parts?

    How do they plan to weld the pieces together? Oxy-Acetylene?

    Don’t get me started on tires ‘n’ tubes.

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