Just last September, Bentley announced it would be painstakingly recreating 12 examples of its most famous race car, the 4 1/2-litre boosted 1929 Blower Bentley. Those plans hit a major milestone this week as engineers pushed through the current crisis to finalise the CAD modelling of every part of the original Blower.
The most fascinating detail of completing this initial step in the Bentley’s Blower Continuation Series, to me anyway, is just how few parts this storied race car actually contains. From Bentley’s press release:
Bentley’s Team Blower has been carefully dismantled and then re-created in the digital world through a combination of precision laser-scanning and intricate hand measurement. The finished CAD model is comprised of 630 components across 70 assemblies, and is more than 2GB in size.
From start to finish it’s taken 1200 man-hours for two dedicated CAD engineers to complete the model from the scan data and measurements, and the result is that an accurate and complete digital model for a 1920s Bentley now exists for the very first time.
A whole car only ended up being 630 components! Rough estimate: How many parts do you think a modern car has? Toyota says “around 30,000” (yes, my source is Toyota’s Answers For Kids, what of it? Toyota wouldn’t lie to the children.) But contained in that handful of components is everything you need to know to build a racing legend.
Engineers were able to complete the CAD work from home while under social distancing orders. I’m sure they were simply compiling the models from home workstations but I kind of love the idea of an engineer heading home for the month with a whole 91-year-old engine in his passenger seat.
If you were hoping to get your hands on the first brand-new Blower Bentley in almost 100 years, tough nuggets, all twelve are spoken for and currently being customised by their new owners before Bentley moves into the production phase. Though customisation is more limited for these Bentleys than the current models on offer, as the whole point of the project is to produce a period-correct machine.
The Blower is a legendary racecar, despite not winning any races it was entered into. It was huge and ungainly, with a penchant for understeer thanks to the supercharger kinda tacked on to the front (Blower in the name) but it was still incredibly fast. The Blowers had one major flaw, however, and it’s an important one for winning races: Reliability.
Despite not winning any races, the Blowers are still legendary for the power they put out when they were actually running. Now, they represent a golden age of racing, with original examples of the Bentley Blower being some of the rarest and most sought after pre-war vehicles in the world. Resurrecting these giants in the modern-day should continue to be a fascinating process to watch.