After 40,000 hours of work, Bentley Mulliner has completed the first new Bentley Blower in 90 years, with the delivery of Car Zero – the prototype car for the Blower Continuation Series.
The highly exclusive run of 12 customer cars – all pre-sold – will be crafted from the design drawings and tooling jigs used for the original four Blowers built and raced by Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin in the late 1920s. Specifically, Bentley’s own Team Car (Chassis HB 3403, engine SM 3902, registration UU 5872 – Team Car #2) has provided the master model for the Continuation Series, with every single component laser-scanned as part of a wheels-up, sympathetic restoration. From this data, 1,846 individual parts have been designed and hand-crafted to create the new Blower. 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. Each of these parts and assemblies have been created by a project team of Bentley Mulliner engineers, craftspeople and technicians working together with a number of British specialists and suppliers.
Blower Car Zero is a dedicated test and development prototype, built in advance of the 12 customer cars, and will be subjected to months of durability and performance testing. Finished in gloss black, with an interior in Oxblood red leather from Bridge of Weir, Car Zero made its debut to officially mark the creation of the new Bentley Motors campus in Crewe. Made possible by the closing of Pyms Lane – Bentley’s address since 1946 – the campus extends Bentley’s headquarters to a new expanded footprint.
The first step in creating Car Zero was an extensive analysis of the original design drawings and drafts that were referenced in the creation of the original Blower Team Cars, together with archived period photographs of the cars. Following a piece-by-piece disassembly of the #2 Team Car owned by Bentley (likely the most valuable Bentley in the world) and an exceptionally precise laser scanning of the frame and its components, a complete digital CAD model of the Blower was created.
From there, a team of artisan specialists were recruited to start manufacturing the components that Bentley Mulliner would bring together to form the first Blower. From the outset, Bentley Mulliner sought to engage the very best specialists across the country to create componentry for the Blower Continuation Series in a manner befitting such a project – using traditional techniques passed down through generations.
Car Zero’s brand new 4½-litre engine, originally designed by W.O Bentley himself, has been created with the expert support of specialists including NDR Ltd in Watford. Featuring many innovations of which a sports car engine of the 1970s would be proud – aluminium pistons, an overhead camshaft, four valves per cylinder and twin spark ignition – the renowned 4½-litre engine has been paired with a newly machined Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger. 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.
With the build of Car Zero now complete, a programme of real-world durability testing will begin. Sessions of gradually increasing duration and speed will check functionality and robustness under ever harder conditions. The test programme is designed to achieve the equivalent of 35,000 kilometres of real-world driving across 8,000 kilometres of track driving