New Model News

First new Bentley Blower made in 90 years hits the road for 8,000 km of modern testing

The Bentley Blower Car Zero is the prototype for the Blower Continuation Series.

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

After 40,000 hours of work, Car Zero has been assembled. It's the first prototype of the Bentley Blower Continuation Series, an exclusive run of hand-built vehicles that are a replica of the 1929 Bentley Blower.

The 12 customer cars, all already sold, will be crafted from design drawings and tooling jigs used for the original four Blowers built and raced by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin in the late 1920s. Specifically, it Bentley's own team car (Chassis HB 3403, engine SM 3902, registration UU 5872 - Team Car #2) that serves as the master model.

The company has laser-scanned each part of the car to measurement accuracy - 1,846 individual parts. Of that, 230 are actual assemblies, one of which is the engine. When fixings and interior trim are counted, the number grows to several thousand total parts. Bentley Mulliner, the custom arm of the Crewe, England-based company, has been tasked with the build, working together with specialists and suppliers.

Bentley Blower Car Zero

Photo courtesy of Bentley Motors

A number of local producers have been tapped to assist with the builds. Israel Newton & Sons Ltd., a 200-year old company based near Derby, has created the car's heavy-gauge steel, hand-formed, and hot riveted chassis. The Vintage Car Radiator Company, based at Bicester Heritage, has crafted exact recreations of the some of the Blower's key components – including the mirror-polished, solid nickel silver radiator shell and the hand-beaten fuel tank formed in steel and copper.

West Midlands supplier Jones Springs Ltd, which has 75 years of experience under its belt, made leaf springs and shackles to the car's original specifications. The father and son team at Vintage Headlamp Restoration International Ltd in Sheffield recreated the Blower's headlamps while Ludlow-based Lomax Coachbuilders created a new ash frame for the car.

The Blower's new 4.5-liter engine was originally designed by Bentley Motors founder W.O Bentley (1888-1971). It's been recreated with the help of specialists including NDR Ltd in Watford.

Blower Car Zero is the prototype that will be dedicated to testing and development in advance of the 12 customer cars being built. The luxury automaker says that the car will be subjected to "months of durability and performance testing".

It wears a gloss black paint job and has an Oxblood red leather interior from Bridge of Weir. As per the original spec, the seats are stuffed with a total of 10 kilograms of natural horsehair. The 12 customer versions of the car have already been specified.

"Seeing Car Zero come together over the last weeks and months has been astonishing. The very latest digital design techniques came together with genuine artisanal hand-crafted artistry – often using manufacturing methods true to the 1920s. It's only through this fusion of old and new that we could craft these cars, with the skills of our engineers mirrored in those of our specialist suppliers. We've issued thousands of drawings and specifications for components, and watching them arrive into Mulliner and then seeing the car take shape has been hugely rewarding. Now we start the next phase – testing and development, ahead of the build of the 12 customer cars."

The Blower Continuation Series is the first customer-facing project delivered by the new Bentley Mulliner Classic portfolio, one of three new divisions of Mulliner alongside Coachbuilt (currently developing the Bacalar) and Collections (responsible for the Continental GT Mulliner).

Car Zero now goes on to face real-world durability testing including sessions of gradually increasing duration and speed that will also check the car's performance under harsh conditions. The program is designed to achieve the equivalent of 35,000 kilometres of real-world driving across 8,000 kilometers of track driving, and simulates the undertaking of rallies including the Peking to Paris and Mille Miglia.

Trending News

Nuts & Bolts

 
 

Walter P. Chrysler stands next to his1924 Chrysler Six, the first car bearing the Chrysler name.

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

It's been nearly 100 years since Walter P. Chrysler formed the Chrysler Corporation. In that time, the company has been merged, spilt, sold, and reborn in a variety of forms, but its roots still remain in Michigan where it is known as one of the Big Three automakers alongside General Motors and Ford.

Let's take a look back at the history of the company from its highest highs to its lowest lows, and everything in between.

The beginning

1925 Chrysler B70

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Walter Chrysler formed his namesake automotive company in 1925, when his employer, Maxwell Motor Company, was reorganized. A little over a year earlier, Chrysler's first production car, the Chrysler 70 (above), was released and featured several forward-looking innovations. The car came with a high-compression engine that had full-pressure lubrication, an oil filter, and a carburetor air filter.

An early pioneer

Early on, Chrysler pioneered several other automotive features that would eventually take over the entire industry. Four-wheel hydraulic brakes, rubber engine mounts, and more were all Chrysler's inventions. The company also developed a ridged rim for its car's wheels, which was designed to prevent a deflated tire from flying off the rim at speed. It was eventually picked up by the entire global automotive industry.

Introducing ... Plymouth

Plymouth Hotel Algonquin 1935 taxi cab

Photo by Martin Forstenzer/Getty Images

In 1928, Chrysler Corporation introduced the Plymouth brand, which was intended to be a lower-priced alternative. Early Plymouth models were rebadged Chrysler cars with small four-cylinder engines. In the photo above, a Plymouth taxicab is parked in front of the Hotel Algonquin in New York City in 1935.

DeSoto was also unveiled at this time as a mid-range model line for the group. Not long after, Chrysler snapped up the Dodge Brothers auto and truck company.

Hello, Mopar

In a stroke of genius that remains a large part of the automotive world today, Chrysler coined the MoPar brand in the 1930s. As a combination of the words "motor parts," the name is still used to describe vehicles and parts in the Chrysler-Dodge world today.

Imperial, Valiant, DeSoto

By the mid-1950s, Chrysler had spun up more nameplates to join its empire. In 1955, Imperial became a brand of its own after a run as the range-topping Chrysler model, and in 1960 the Valiant brand name came to be. In 1961, Chrysler discontinued the DeSoto line.

Chrysler in space

Saturn 1B Kennedy apollo picture

Photo by MPI/Getty Images

The automaker had a hand in the space program, too. In the late 1950s, NASA contracted Chrysler to build the first booster stage of the Saturn I and Saturn IB vehicles. The Saturn 1B is pictured above on January 22, 1968 launching Apollo 5 from Cape Kennedy, Florida, to complete the first flight test of an unmanned lunar module.

The company built the pieces for the Apollo Program at the Michoud Assembly Facility in East New Orleans, which was one of the largest manufacturing facilities on Earth at the time.

The future is now

1963 Plymouth Valiant

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

Chrysler's forward thinking operations continued into the 1960s, when the automaker became the only of Detroit's Big Three to use a unibody design in its vehicles. Today, most passenger vehicles are unibody designs, but it was a novel idea at the time. Around the same time, the Valiant brand was moved back as a subsidiary of the Plymouth brand (a 1963 Plymouth Valiant is shown above), and became the first production car with an alternator.

Ooh, Barracuda

1965 Plymouth Barracuda

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1964, the Plymouth Barracuda was introduced (shown above as a 1965 model), almost two weeks before the unveiling of the Ford Mustang. Despite being first, the 'Cuda was outsold by the Mustang ten-to-one in its first year on the market. Chrysler had also set its sights on Europe by this time, and took a majority stake in the British Rootes Group in 1964. The venture was short-lived, however, as financial difficulties in the British company forced Chrysler to sell to PSA Peugeot Citroen in 1978.

Stiff competition, disastrous results

The 1970s proved to be a difficult time for Chrysler, as it was for all American car companies. Cheaper, smaller Japanese and European cars flooded the markets, as the oil crisis drove prices through the roof and made large, heavy cars almost immediately obsolete. Later in the decade, a rush to push new models to market led to massive warranty and repair costs for Chrysler, as its Dodge Aspen and Plymouth Volare were hurried to market with poor construction and an even worse design.

Mr. Iacocca

1984 Plymouth Voyager

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1978, Lee Iacocca joined Chrysler as CEO after having been fired from Ford. Because of its missteps with the Aspen and Volare models, Chrysler was hemorrhaging cash at the time. Iacocca started retooling the automaker from scratch, which included many layoffs, the sale of European assets to Peugeot, and the creation of the project that would ultimately lead to the Dodge Caravan and Plymouth Voyager (1984 model shown above). The project was driven by former Ford executives after Henry Ford II denied its forward progress under his watch.

Iacocca realized that the company would not be able to survive without a significant influx of cash to turn its fortunes around. In September 1979, he asked Congress for a $1.5 billion loan, which led to the Chrysler Corporation Loan Guarantee Act of 1979. The military later purchased thousands of Dodge trucks from the company, which helped it recover and avoid bankruptcy.

The K-Car and the minivan

1982 Chrysler LeBaron

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

In 1981, Chrysler released the first K-Car platform model - another rejected Ford project. The platform would go on to form the basis of several models throughout the decade (1982 Chrysler LeBaron shown above). In 1983, the first minivan was introduced, the success of which helped Chrysler repay the federal government the same year.

American Motors Corporation

The late 1980s were a consequential time for Chrysler. In 1987, the automaker was the subject of an investigation over its practice of disconnecting odometers during test drives before being shipped to dealers. The company settled out of court, but suffered a massive public relation hit. The same year, Iacocca led the acquisition of American Motors Corporation (AMC), which brought Jeep into the Chrysler fold for the first time. The Eagle brand was also created at this time.

Chrysler and Fiat Part I

In 1988, Chrysler and Fiat reached an agreement for the American automaker to be the exclusive distributed or Alfa Romeo in the United States, which lasted until Alfas were phased out in 1995. The early 1990s also saw Chrysler making a return to the streets of Europe, first with select Jeep models and then others.

DaimlerChrysler Motors Company

In 1998, Chrysler formed a 50-50 partnership with Daimler-Benz, and the automaker was renamed DaimlerChrysler Motors Company. Though it was supposed to be an even merger, Daimler-Benz was in the driver's seat. Plymouth was phased out in 2001, and the remaining auto brands went on to share platforms and technologies in vehicles that are still seen today. The marriage came to an end in 2007, when DaimlerChrysler AG sold the majority of its stake in Chrysler to Cerberus Capital Management. That sale led to a shuffle in management and a new logo.

Economic downturn

A Jeep sits in front of the empty showroom at Premier Chrysler June 8, 2009 in Chicago, Illinois. The dealership is 1 of the 789 Chrysler dealerships nationwide that are scheduled to close tomorrow. Today the Supreme Court delayed Chrysler\ufffds sale of most of its assets to a group led by Italy\ufffds Fiat. (

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images

The financial crisis of 2008 cut deep into Chrysler's operations and stability. Late in that year, the company announced a 25 percent reduction in its salaried and contract workforce. Sales fell drastically for all automakers at that time, but Chrysler was particularly vulnerable after having been passed around through mergers and acquisitions over the years. In December 2008, President George W. Bush announced a rescue loan for the auto industry, which included Chrysler.

As part of a reorganization, Chrysler LLC and Fiat announced plans to form a global alliance. The agreement gave Fiat a large stake in Chrysler and led to several months of restructuring. By mid-2009, Fiat had taken a majority stake in Chrysler, and by 2014, the company we all know today had taken shape. In December of that year, Chrysler Group LLC's name was officially changed to FCA US LLC, or Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.

Stellantis

New Stellantis company logo revealed ahead of Groupe PSA-Fiat Chrysler merger

Photo courtesy of FCA US LLC

The next chapter of Chrysler is already written. The company will become part of Stellantis, a megacorporation that brings together the holdings of FCA with those of PSA Groupe. The deal closes in January 2021.

Trending News

 
 

This 1924 Bentley 3 Litre was one of just 1,600 made.

Photo courtesy of DM Historics

The Bentley 3 Litre is one of the greatest historic race cars of all time, but you might not think that based on a first glance. It was a Le Mans champion in the early days of the contest winning in 1924, 1927, 1928, 1929 and 1930 beating the famously fast Bugattis of the era.

Bentley first built the car in 1919, debuted it at the Olympia Motor Exhibition, and made it available to coach builders a few years later. The cars were produced in Red Label, Blue Label, and Green Label formats with the Green Label models being the rarest and most highly specialized for racing.

DM Historics has taken Bentley 3 Litre chassis 589 (of approximately 1,600) and expertly overhauled. There's only 12,700 miles on the odometer of the model and it has a long Bentley Drivers Club history. The car served duty as the pilot car for the BDC Jubilee Run in 1969 as well as featuring heavily in the "Bentley Golden Jubilee Book 1919 -1969".

1924 Bentley 3 Litre, Chassis 589

Photo courtesy of DM Historics

History tells that the first owner of this Bentley was W H B Moorehead a magistrate from Newry, who had it finish in a four-seater combination.

The historic racing engineers in charge of the project starting in on the overhaul in 2018. The extensive renovation restored the car to a near factory standard, taking it back to very near the condition it was when it rolled off the line in 1924. Work was done cooperation with pre-war Vintage specialists Kingsbury.

The car has also been uplifted a smidge. It now has a two-wire Dynamo, electronic voltage regulator, 12-volt LED lighting, 6.5-liter rear axle, and replacement pistons. Repairers have kept the car's original three-cylinder engine with super carburettors and a period-correct four-speed gearbox. To meet modern standards, the car received rebuilt magnetos, and new and period-correct exhaust and fuel systems.

Chassis 589 has been restored to wear the most iconic Bentley racing livery. That includes a black exterior with refurbished wheels, lights, and a bespoke tonneau cover.

Its interior is equally as refined with red leather racing-style seats with contrasting black carpets and red piping. The original 18-inch four-spoke steering wheel is in place as are all the original dials and gauges, in full working order.

After a long history of ownership and restoration, the model is for sale again. The price? £285,000.

Trending News