One Of Bentley's Most Famous Cars Was Also One Of Its Biggest Failures

One Of Bentley's Most Famous Cars Was Also One Of Its Biggest Failures

You might suppose that a antique Bentley well-known for racing at Le Mans, retaining the lap document at Brooklands, and later being pushed with the aid of using James Bond in 3 of Ian Flemming`s 007 novels might own a opposition document steeped in achievement. Not so. The 1929 4.five-liter Blower Bentley changed into a deeply unsuccessful racer. Despite now arguably the maximum well-known automobile of its era, and possibly even the best-recognized racing Bentley of all time, the Blower controlled best  podium finishes withinside the period, completing 1/3 withinside the 1929 Irish Grand Prix and 2d withinside the 1930 French GP.

Rubbing salt withinside the wound is how the Blower, named after the addition of a supercharger to its engine, changed into meant to construct at the achievement of its predecessors, best to be crushed with the aid of using them. These automobiles, with normally-aspirated engines that grew in capability from a 3-liter 4-cylinder to a 4.five-liter and subsequently a huge 6.five-liter six-cylinder motor, gained the 24 hours of Le Mans in 1924, then inclusively among 1927 and 1930 (through Britannica).

By 1929, Bentley's competitors had been beginning to trap up, so driving force Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin set approximately including a supercharger to the 4.five-liter engine, upping strength from 132 horsepower to 243 horsepower in race tune, in line with Bentley — it truly is humble with the aid of using latest standard, however changed into potent in a time while a standard own circle of relatives automobile just like the Austin 7 produced 10.five horsepower (through Silo Drome).

Birkin were given his way

Company founder Walter Owen "W.O." Bentley changed into unamused, pronouncing the supercharger might "pervert the engine's layout and corrupt its performance," in line with Bentley's website. But Birkin gained over Bentley chairman Woolf Barnato, who gave the automobile his blessing. To meet racing requirements, 50 examples needed to be produced. Financial backing got here from Dorothy Wyndham Paget, daughter of Lord Queensborough, and Pauline Whitney, who changed into an American heiress and niece of Standard Oil Company partner Colonel Oliver Hazard Payne.

Only 4 of the deliberate 5 racing variations of the so-known as Birkin Blower Bentley had been built. Their Roost-kind supercharger, advanced with the aid of using British engineer Amherst Villiers, changed into suited for the the front of the engine and is absolutely seen among the headlamps. This region changed into best for telling a Blower from a ordinary Bentley 4.five-liter, however much less than perfect for weight distribution, because the automobiles are stated to understeer because of all of that weight sitting proper at the nose (through Road & Track).

Similarly baffling, as a minimum to latest drivers, is the 1920's pedal placement. The fueloline is withinside the middle, with the brake to the proper and the snatch to the left. Brain Gush, former boss of Bentley Motorsport, told Classic & Sports Car magazine, "Driving a automobile with a relevant throttle pedal is likewise something, it focuses the brain ... You need to power protecting the brake pedal consciously, path braking so that you are there geared up, then wish intuition would not take it again onto the fueloline."

A disappointing Le Mans

It isn't anyt any understatement to mention the Blower has an underwhelming racing document. Not geared up in time for the 1929 Le Mans 24 hours, Birkin's Blower made its debut a fortnight later on the Brooklands Six Hour Race, however didn't finish (through Racing Sports Cars). The Blower's first trip at Le Mans got here in 1930, in which it changed into entered independently with the aid of using Birkin along 3 Speed Sixes fielded with the aid of using Bentley itself. A twin among Birkin and Rudolf Caracciola on the wheel of a Mercedes-Benz SSK "has surpassed into legend," says Bentley, with the 2 strolling neck-and-neck till Birkin overtook at excessive pace at the Hunaudières straight (now the Mulsanne straight) with  wheels at the grass.

But the excessive tempo took its toll, and neither automobile completed the race. It changed into as an alternative gained, absolute confidence to the inflammation of Birkin, with the aid of using Barnato and Glen Kidston in Bentley's very own Speed Six. The cause for the Blower's early retirement, Bentley racing supervisor Nobby Clarke is quoted as pronouncing at the automaker's website, changed into that "the Blower eats [spark] plugs like a donkey eats hay."

Better information got here on the Irish GP, with Birkin completing 1/3 in 1929 and fourth in 1930, accompanied with the aid of using 2d vicinity on the 1930 French Grand Prix in Pau. That yr additionally noticed a 2d vicinity on the Brooklands 500-mile, for a Blower pushed with the aid of using Dudley Benjafield and Eddie Hall. Birkin, teamed with George Duller, completed ninth.

A Brooklands document and James Bond's favorite

Although Bentley's maximum well-known automobile by no means gained a race, it has as a minimum one racing accolade to its name: putting a brand new lap document at Brooklands in 1932. Using a changed Blower transformed to a single-seat configuration with a faired-in radiator, Birkin lapped the banked circuit in southern England at a mean pace of 137.ninety six miles in keeping with hour. The automobile changed into, Bentley says, "frequently airborne because of the terrible first-class of the concrete banking." That very automobile, registration UU 5871, bought at public sale in 2012 for $6.1 million (through Bonhams).

Lastly, the Blower Bentley changed into a Bond automobile. Although it has by no means seemed in a 007 movie — "it is had its day, I'm afraid," Q stated to Bond in 1964's "Goldfinger" — a 1931 Blower painted battleship grey changed into the spy's private automobile in Ian Flemming's novels, performing in "Casino Royale," "Live and Let Die," and "Moonraker," wherein it's miles crashed and written off throughout a automobile chase.

Today, Bentley is presently constructing 12 continuation examples of the Blower, all genuine replicas of Birkin's 1929 unique and priced at around $2 million plus tax. Demonstrating its breadth of product offerings, Bentley is likewise operating toward launching a brand new electric powered automobile each yr among 2025 and 2030.

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