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Friday, 22 January 2010

Airfix 1930 4.5 Litre Bentley

A classic Airfix 1/32 scale kit from 1981 of a 4.5 litre supercharged "blower" Bentley.

The Bentley Motor Company was founded in 1919. Before designing and building cars, it's founder Walter Owen Bentley was known for making rotary aero engines for First World War aircraft such as the Sopwith Camel.

The 4.5 litre Bentley evolved from the earlier 3 litre model and first appeared in 1926.

In 1927 a 4.5 litre Bentley was entered in the Le Mans 24 hour race but crashed out. However, he following year another car Bentley driven by Woolf Barnato and Bernard Rubin claimed Bentley's first Le Mans victory.

The first supercharged Bentley was a 3 litre model which had been modified in 1926.

Walter Owen Bentley hated the supercharged car and it's designer Henry Birkin decided to develop the "blower" Bentley as a private venture.

In 1929 he set up a workshop in Welwyn Garden City with a team of former Bentley mechanics. They produced a team of four supercharged Bentleys—three road cars to compete at Le Mans and a single seater track car mainly for use at Brooklands.

The supercharged engines were definitely not green!

A non-supercharged Bentley had a fuel consumption of about 17.5 miles per gallon, at 100 mph whereas the "blower" Bentley had a fuel consumption of only 2.8 miles per gallon at 100 mph.

Despite their promise the 4.5 litre "blower" Bentleys never achieved a major racing success due to their poor durability.

W O Bentley later went on to develop the larger 6.5 litre car that gained back to back Le Mans victories in 1929 and 1930.

In 1931 Bentley was taken over by Rolls Royce and is now part of the Volkswagen group.

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