Defining the Bentley Blower as a monumentally classic racing machine is a massive understatement. And now a modern example of the Blower — called Car Zero — has been built by hand, a copy of the 1929 4½-liter supercharged car, and it will race yet again.
The indomitable Blower, so named for the Roots-type supercharger (built by Amherst Villiers) bolted in at the front of the magnesium crankcase, has been resurrected and will compete at the Circuit de la Sarthe — translated: Le Mans — in June, as well as at Donington Park in England and at Spa in Belgium later this year. The car has already run a six-hour full-race-pace trial at the historic Goodwood track south of London to test its competition readiness.
According to a history published in AutoEvolution, the original car was intolerably unreliable — it did not win any of the 12 races it entered – and was mightily inefficient. “At full steam, the Blower would burn four liters (1.1 gallons) of fuel every minute,” the story said. “But its speed was the downright jaw-dropping act of the small, supercharged engine and the four-speed unsynchronized gearbox.”
Several so-called Continuation Series Blowers have been commissioned and have been or will be built for sales to customers. All have already been already sold, with few modifications for modern safety, including a rain light and a fire extinguisher.
Autoblog contributor Andrew English has driven the $2 million Car Zero, and it’s a hell of a tale. A photo gallery of his exploits appears below.
About three years ago, Bentley initiated the process of rebuilding the replica of the original Blower with a laser scan of all its parts. Engineers spent about 40,000 hours on the project, using original drawings and blueprints to create “high-fidelity copies” of the original parts.
Nor was the interior ignored. Bentley used 22 pounds of horsehair to stuff the seats, the frame is made from ash, and the upholstery is red leather. It’s still, after all, a Bentley.