October 21, 2021

Linkage Mag

Geared for the Automotive Life

Blower Bentley Joins RM Sotheby’s Paris Lineup

Image: Stephan Bauer, RM Sotheby's

The Blower Bentley is a legend, and your chance to own one just popped up. 

Built initially by Sir Henry Birkin in 1929, the Blower project’s goal was to squeeze more power from the 4 1/2 platform using a Roots-style blower. 

Image: Stephan Bauer, RM Sotheby’s

W.O. Bentley held to the theory that displacement was the key to success — but Birkin, one of the “Bentley Boys,” had seen what Mercedes-Benz had accomplished with supercharging, so he and a former Bentley mechanic set about building the blown 4 1/2.

He wanted to make a British car that could keep up the momentum of British racing wins in the midst of rapidly advancing competition, and as he saw it, boost was the ticket to keeping a BRG body on in the winners circle.

The proof of concept came shortly thereafter, when Birkin took second at the French Grand Prix at Pau in a supercharged 4 1/2 against some serious monoposto GP competition.

Image: Stephan Bauer, RM Sotheby’s

Bentley built 50 more production models based off Birkin’s formula to homologate the car — and they offered fantastic performance for their day with true 100-mph capabilities. Today, they’re coveted by vintage Bentley collectors for their provenance, craftsmanship and performance.

Image: Stephan Bauer, RM Sotheby’s

The car on offer here — a 1931 Bentley 4 1/2-Litre Supercharged Tourer, s/n MS3938 — is notable in that it is a matching-numbers example, which is rare for Bentleys of this era, as parts swapping was common. This car has its original engine, chassis, drivetrain, steering, UK “GT 8771” numberplate, axles and some body panels. It was originally born with four-seat Mayfair Open Tourer coachwork, then was later fitted with a Vanden Plas Open Tourer body that’s still with the car. As currently configured, it has competition Blower bodywork and a newly rebuilt Neil Davis Racing 5.5-litre engine. It’s been in long-term ownership and has known history from new, which should make it quite the draw for the Paris sale. The pre-sale estimate is €4.1m – €5m ($4.9m – $6.1m)

The RM Sotheby’s Paris sale takes place on February 13, 2021. Learn more here.