Bentley has revealed the first new 4.5-litre ‘Blower’ to be built since 1930 as it begins production of a new ‘continuation’ range. The Blower Continuation Series comprises 12 cars, all of which are already sold, but this is ‘Car Zero’, and it will be used as a testing prototype for the other dozen vehicles.
Huge amounts of work have gone into the prototype, which was built using original drawings and a 3D laser scan of Bentley’s own Team Car, which wears the registration UU 5872. Bentley had to source 1,846 hand-crafted parts – 230 of which are assemblies such as the engine. Including interior trim, fixings and individual components, the part count stretches into the thousands. Each one has been created by a project team of Bentley Mulliner engineers, craftspeople and technicians working together with British specialists and suppliers.
The chassis was hand formed and hot riveted by a Derbyshire firm that normally works on boilers for steam locomotives and traction engines, while a company from Oxfordshire made the radiator shell and the fuel tank. The leaf springs, meanwhile, came from a specialist in the West Midlands, while the lights came from a firm in Sheffield.
The ash frame of the bodywork, however, was trimmed by the Mulliner Trim Shop at Bentley’s Crewe headquarters, although it was created by a firm from Shropshire. A massive focus has been placed on detail, and like the original 4.5-litre Bentleys, the seats are stuffed with 10 kg of natural horsehair.
But the beating heart of Car Zero is the brand new 4.5-litre engine originally designed by W.O. Bentley himself. The new motor is an exact recreation of the engine used in Tim Birkin’s four Blowers that raced in the 1920s, right down to the Amherst Villiers roots-type supercharger.
After testing and running in the engine on a special test bed, Car Zero was finally completed, finished in gloss black with an Oxblood red leather interior from Bridge of Weir. When finished, it was handed to Bentley CEO Adrian Hallmark, who drove it to Bentley’s new ‘campus’ at Pyms Lane, Crewe.
“Today was a truly remarkable day, not just as a milestone in the Blower Continuation Series project but also for Bentley Motors,” said Hallmark. “To drive the first new Blower in 90 years was a privilege, and the quality of the car would make Sir Tim Birkin himself proud. The craftsmanship is exquisite, and I’m pleased to report that the car drives just as beautifully as our original Team Car.
“It was also significant that I could drive the new Blower down Pyms Lane, now part of our main site as we expand to create the new Bentley campus. Investing in our headquarters is vital both for Bentley’s future and for Crewe, and our new developments and buildings are a physical manifestation of the exciting future before us as we start our journey to become the world leader in sustainable luxury mobility.”
From here, Car Zero will embark on a gruelling test process with sessions of gradually increasing duration and speed to check “functionality and robustness”. The test programme is designed to achieve the equivalent of 35,000 kilometres of real-world driving across 8,000 kilometres of track driving, as well as simulating famous rallies such as Peking to Paris and Mille Miglia.