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The bonsai Blower

3 weeks ago

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Andrew Frankel | Ti co-founder


2 May 2024

It is no exaggeration to say that, in the 1920s, Bentley put Britain on the motor racing map, where it remains to this day. Before Bentley, triumphs by British brands were vanishingly rare, but then the world’s fastest lorry won Le Mans five times in seven attempts and the rest is history.

And of all the racing Bentleys, the most famous is the ‘Blower’ with its vast Amherst Villiers supercharger slung out between its front dumb irons. Which is strange, because it was, by a distance, the worst. While all the other models that attempted Le Mans – the 3-litre, 4½-litre and Speed Six – all won the race at least once, no Blower ever even finished it, nor won any other race in period.

But it seems the old adage of never letting the truth get in the way of a good story had legs far beyond the narrow confines of mere journalism. That the Blower was the love child of dashing war hero Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, his on track heroics in it, polka dot scarf blowing in hurricane force winds as he overtook the enemy at 125mph on the grass with a tyre in tatters and how much WO Bentley hated it… well if it hadn’t all been true, someone would have had to make it up.

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