It’s taken 40,000 hours of work, but the first new Bentley Blower since 1930 has rolled out of the factory.
After 40,000 hours of painstaking work, Bentley has finished its first new Bentley Blower since 1930. Called Car Zero this one is a prototype for the Blower Continuation Series.
Bentley will only make 12 of these continuation Blowers and they’re all pre-sold. All are being crafted from the same drawings and tooling jigs as the originals in the 1920s. In fact, they’re all being specifically based on the car raced by Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, (Chassis HB 3403, engine SM 3902, registration UU 5872 – Team Car #2). This car has become the master model.
Bentley laser scanned everything on the car, from the wheels up. From this data, 1846 individual parts have been designed and hand-crafted to create the new Blower. Of those more than 1800 parts, 230 of those parts are actually assemblies – one of which being the engine – taking the total part count to several thousand when fixings and interior trim parts are included.
This prototype will now be put through its paces ahead of the production models being produced. And there’s nothing modern about this thing, with Bentley engaging specialist firms capable of reproducing the look and feel of yesteryear in period detail.
The chassis has been created in heavy-gauge steel, hand-formed and hot riveted by Israel Newton & Sons Ltd, company with a 200-year history making boilers for steam locomotives and traction engines.
The Vintage Car Radiator Company, based at Bicester Heritage, crafted exact recreations of the mirror-polished, solid nickel silver radiator shell and the hand-beaten fuel tank formed in steel and copper. Leaf springs and shackles have been made to original specifications by Jones Springs Ltd, a specialist in the West Midlands with nearly 75 years of experience and a history that started in a blacksmith’s forge. The Blower’s iconic headlamps have been reborn by Vintage Headlamp Restoration International Ltd in Sheffield.
Meanwhile, the Mulliner Trim Shop in Crewe, a new ash frame created by Lomax Coachbuilders (based in Ludlow) underwent final stages of carpentry, including the application of 25 metres of Rexine material used to wrap the body. Hand-trimming of the body was then completed by Mulliner’s master craftsmen. For Car Zero, the gloss black bodywork is paired with Oxblood red Bridge of Weir leather and matching trim. As per the originals, the seats are stuffed with a total of 10 kilograms of natural horsehair.
Bentley even went and rebuilt an engine test bed that could take the 4½-litre engine. The newly created Blower engine is an exact recreation of the engines that powered Tim Birkin’s four Team Blowers that raced in the late 1920s – including the use of magnesium for the crankcase.
The engine test facility had been at Bentley since the factory was built in 1938, and the cells were originally used to run-in and power-test Merlin V12 aero engines produced by the factory for the Spitfire and Hurricane fighters of the Second World War. Wow.
Preparing the test bed, Bentley said, involved making a replica Blower front chassis to hold the engine, which could then be mounted to the computer-controlled engine dynamometer. A new software version to measure and control the engine was written and tested, allowing Bentley’s engineers to monitor and run the engine to precise parameters.
The prototype Blower will now be put through its paces in a series of real-world durability trials to try and achieve the equivalent of 35,000km of real-world running.
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