YOU have to hand it to Bentley… they do things in style!
For this year’s classic Mille Miglia in Italy they are entering a truly iconic car. In fact, two of them.
The event will start from Viale Venezia in Brescia (as it did in 1927) tomorrow (Thursday, May 16) and finish back in Brescia on Saturday (18th).
Their entries will be two unique 4½ litre Supercharged “Blowers”; a 1930 Le Mans race car belonging to perhaps the most famous and daring of the Bentley Boys and a company demonstrator that is still going strong even after nine decades on the road.
The Number 2 Team Car — raced at Le Mans by Captain Tim Birkin — was brought by Bentley Motors in 2000 and has been regularly campaigned across the world by the company ever since.
Richard Charlesworth, Bentley’s Director of Royal and VIP Relations, who has helped prepare the car for its third Mille Miglia challenge at Bentley’s Crewe headquarters, explains: “This is a fantastic car to drive and remains extremely rapid as well. We take great pride in making sure all the cars Bentley owns continue to regularly compete or run and are not museum exhibits, which is very much the Bentley way, and we are all looking forward to the unique Mille Miglia experience.”
The car is perhaps best known for its epic duel with a seven-litre ‘Kompressor’ Mercedes (also supercharged) at Le Mans in 1930 with Birkin putting his off-side wheels on the grass as he completed a typically daring pass of his Mercedes opponent Rudolf Caracciola at 120mph. The Blower immediately threw one of its rear tyre treads, but somehow Birkin carried on to set the fastest lap.
Sadly Birkin’s campaign ended after 82 laps but the immense pressure he applied to the Mercedes is wildly credited with assisting his fellow Bentley Boys Woolf Barnato and Glenn Kidston to win the race in their Bentley Speed Six.
The second Bentley Blower to take-on Mille Miglia was completed in 1930 and is fitted with a beautiful Vanden Plas Open, Sports Four Seater body. It was owned by Bentley Motors as a customer demonstrator car before passing into private ownership. An early review praised it as “a car with the strongest possible individuality and it is certain that it is immensely likeable no matter what angle one may regard it”.
Repurchased by Bentley Motors in 1997, the car continues to turn heads at Bentley customer events across the world and is still faithfully fulfilling demonstration rides well into its ninth decade.
“There are currently over 100,000 miles on this elegant Blower Bentley but we’re certain it has completed many more than this,” said Mr Charlesworth.
“However, everyone at Bentley is confident the car will run for many, many years to come and will complete the 1,000 mile round-trip to and from Brescia.”