A group of high-profile Bentley owners and enthusiasts has written to the marque’s chairman and CEO, Adrian Hallmark, to express their concerns about plans to produce a series of 12 Continuation 4½ Litre ‘Blowers’ based on 3D scans of Bentley’s own Team Car, HB 3403 (The marketplace, Nov 2019).
Bentley is far from the first brand to produce such a series, with Aston Martin and Jaguar having already embraced the concept to lucrative effect. But according to the letter, which is signed by such classic luminaries as Ralph Lauren, Lord Bamford, Evert Louwman and William E ‘Chip’ Connor, the run of recreations would ‘dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article’.
“Most marques are the guardians of their own history, caretakers of records, cars and legacy,” says signatory Simon Kidston, nephew of ‘Bentley Boy’ Glen Kidston. “When a major manufacturer starts building ‘genuine recreations’ that blur the line between real and fake, and arguably devalue the authentic cars that private owners have cherished and preserved since long before manufacturers took an interest, it feels as if the gamekeeper has turned poacher.”
The ‘Blower’ project was born of a decision to restore HB 3403, as a spokesperson for Bentley explains: “In parallel, to relieve the future strain on what is a very old car, we decided to build a recreation for use in non-critical and non-competitive events, where the heritage is not crucial. This would provide the basis for a genuine Birkin Team Blower experience, without risking the integrity of the genuine car. After much research and discussion with a number of the stakeholders – vintage Bentley owners, restorers, specialists and club members – we tested the idea of making an official Continuation Series… and were overwhelmed by the positivity of the response. While we heard some similar concerns to those expressed in the letter, the vast majority of the feedback was hugely supportive.”
The ex-‘Tim’ Birkin car has been stripped and scanned already, and computer modelling for the cars, which will be built by Mulliner Classic at Crewe, is complete. “While the Continuation Series will be mechanically identical to our Team Blower, they will be instantly recognisable as Continuation cars,” says Bentley. “The four original Team Blowers are extremely rare, exceptionally valuable, and each has its own story – no new car or addition to the Bentley Blower family can change that.”