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'Blower' Bentleys tackle Mille Miglia

Published May 15, 2013


Bentley has entered two very special supercharged 4½-litre 'Blowers' in this year's Mille Miglia classic-car regularity trial - a 1930 Le Mans 24 Hours race car belonging to perhaps the most famous and daring of the Bentley Boys, Captain Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin - and a company 'demo model' that's still going strong after nine decades on the road.

The Birkin car, carrying the race number 9, was entered by the Honourable Dorothy Paget for the 1930 Le Mans classic, and is best known for his epic duel with Rudolf Caracciola in a works seven-litre Mercedes-Benz 'Kompressor' - also supercharged - which ended when Birkin put the two left wheels on the grass in a typically robust overtaking move.

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The left rear tyre promptly threw its tread - but somehow Birkin carried on to set the fastest lap of the race before pulling into the pits.


Birkin was renowned for being hard on cars and, sadly, the overstressed 'Blower' went out after 82 laps - but Caracciola's 'Kompressor' didn't finish either (pushed too hard by Birkin, according to legend!) leaving the way open for Woolf Barnato and Glenn Kidston to win in the 6½-litre Bentley Speed Six.

The No.9 car was bought by the Bentley factory in 2000 and has been regularly campaigned across the world ever since.

Richard Charlesworth, Bentley's director of Royal and VIP relations, who helped prepare the car for its third Mille Miglia challenge, explained:

“This is a fantastic car to drive and it's still extremely fast. We take great pride in making sure all the cars Bentley owns continue to compete or run regularly and are not museum exhibits, and we're all looking forward to the Mille Miglia.”

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The second Bentley Blower entered for this year's Mille Miglia was built in 1930 and fitted with a beautiful Vanden Plas open, sports four-seater body. It was used by the factory as customer demonstrator car before passing into private ownership.

Bentley bought it back in 1997; it still turns heads at Bentley customer events around the world and it's still faithfully giving demonstration rides well into its ninth decade.

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Charlesworth said: “It has more than 100 000 miles (160 000km) on the clock but we're sure it has done a lot more than that. Nevertheless, we're confident the car will run for many, many years to come and it'll do the 1600km round trip from Rome to Brescia and back without problems.”

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