The 1929 Bentley Blower Was the First Rocky Movie of Race Cars

A real champion at heart—but that's about it.

The 4.5-liter straight-six engine of the 1929 Bentley Blower Continuation series has officially fired up for the first time. The exquisite unit will be powering the series’ prototype dubbed Car Zero, though before the engine could be test-fired for the first time, a specially prepared testbed had to be built at Bentley’s Crewe factory. 

This involved building a Bentley Blower front chassis to hold the engine in place and then add a computer-operated dynamometer. Why? Because this engine design is nearly 100 years old and Bentley (or anyone else for that matter) doesn’t build’em like this anymore. Plus, having the engine on a makeshift chassis allows the engineers to test it in its precise environment.

Bentley even dug up test-bed fixtures last used during WWII for running power tests on Merlin V12 engines for  Spitfire and Hurricane fighter planes. That’s the length that the enginers went to make sure things were in tip-top shape for the Continuation series.

That being said, it’s a real pity that Bentley is only showing us photos of the engine and not audio or video of it running. Bentley stated that the engine would be tested over 20-hour cycles. After that, the next goal will be shoehorning it into the car and undergo a test drive program designed to simulate over 21,000 road miles and an estimated 5,000 miles of track driving.

Bentley only plans on building 12 examples of the 1929 Blower Continuation, and all of them are sold. Yet we are still foaming at the mouth to see these new-old beasts spit oil in the face of whoever drives them. It’s fascinating, considering when you remember the fact that the 1929 Bentley Blower is… a loser.

It was a hot rod built by Sir Tim Birkin, who wanted more power out of his Bentley race cars. Birkin decided to supercharge the engines even though Walter Owen Bentley himself advised him not to. Bentley felt that supercharging the engine would ruin his design, and he was right. Birkin had the 4.5-liter straight-six worked over with a new crankshaft, reinforced connecting rods, and modified oil system. The cars were exceptionally fast but fragile as the supercharger put a lot of stress on the engine. 

Though the Bentley Blower had the heart of a racing champion, it never won a race. Much like in the Hollywood boxing blockbuster Rocky, Mr. Balboa loses to Apollo despite being the better athlete.

So why do we love the Bentley so much? Maybe it’s our general love and support for the underdog. The 1929 Bentley Blower is the Rocky 1 of race cars. The people’s champion.

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