A group of Bentley enthusiasts, led by Ralph Lauren, Lord Bamford and former CC columnist Simon Kidston, has sent an impassioned letter of protest to Bentley Motors’ chairman Adrian Hallmark. They are dismayed at the company’s plans to produce a dozen handcrafted replicas of the ‘Team Blower’ Le Mans cars that raced in the Twenties.
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These ‘continuation’ cars, to be based on the original Tim Birkin car in Bentley’s own collection and restricted to track and show use, are expected to cost around £1.5m each. In the letter the enthusiasts state, ‘We urge you to please not squander time, funding, energy and the Bentley brand’s reputation upon a batch of 12 facsimile cars, cars that would only serve to dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article. To do otherwise would be to pervert a glorious history.’
In response, Bentley’s Director of Communications, Wayne Bruce, told us, ‘The project was borne from a decision to complete a conservative restoration of our own Team Blower, which over the past 19 years of our ownership has been used a great deal and so needs mechanical rejuvenation. In parallel, to relieve the future strain on what is now a very old car, we decided to build a recreation for use in non-competitive and non-critical events, where the heritage is not crucial. This recreation would provide the basis for a genuine Birkin Team Blower experience, without risking the integrity of the genuine car, which is arguably the most valuable Bentley in existence. ‘While the Continuation Series cars will be mechanically identical to our Blower, they will not be the same colour or feature the same graphics, so will be instantly recognisable as Continuation cars. The original four Team Blowers are unique, extremely rare, exceptionally valuable and each has its own incredible story – no new car or addition to the Bentley Blower family can change that.’
The continuation Blowers have faced a blustery reception from the owners of originals