Very few would dispute the claim of the Bentley to represent the true greatness of British sporting motoring in the vintage era, and though the title would be strongly contested by proponents of the Three litre, and some would argue for the merits of the six-cylinder models, the majority would surely pick the mighty 4½ Litre as the finest flowering of the Marque. The car was a natural step in the company’s evolution; though the Three Litre had been pretty successful in sales terms, it had been developed about as far as it could in performance terms by 1925 and was beginning to lose ground in competition to its competitors.
The logical solution was the 4 ½ Litre; with a capacity fifty percent bigger, output was very considerably greater, and the powerplant was mounted in a massively strong chassis which was in fact very little heavier than its predecessor. In standard trim with a Vanden Plas touring body, it was capable of a thundering 92mph flat out, pretty near to the top of its class, and some of the specially-equipped short chassis cars with le Mans modifications and higher gearing could top the magic figure of 100mph.
W O Bentley had always been fully aware of the importance of racing success on sales figures, and the 4 1/2 litre showed its potential on its first outing at Le Mans in 1927. Frank Clements, one of the celebrated ‘Bentley boys’, the factory team drivers, proceeded to smash the lap records time and time again. Some 667 chassis were built before the demise of the firm in 1931, quick, strong and full of character, but undoubtedly a some of the most charismatic Bentleys of all were the ‘Blowers’ the fifty-five cars equipped with awe-inspiring superchargers designed by the very gifted Amherst Villiers.
The Blower project owed much to the search for extra performance conducted by Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, one of the most prominent of the Bentley boys; to be accepted at Le Mans a total of fifty had to be produced for homologation purposes, a strain on the company’s overstretched finances, but the dramatic result was without doubt a significant element of the Bentley legend, a byword for sheer power of a distinctly ‘British’ kind. Long before Ian Fleming placed James Bond at the wheel of an Aston Martin, he had 007 thundering around in a supercharged 4 ½ litre.
This fabulous example has been restored by the prominent Bentley restorer, Stanley Mann and has continuous history dating back to the conception of the 4.5 Litre itself. The chassis is believed to be a heavy pattern 4 cylinder Chassis. Having been restored to its current form in 2004, with the addition of an NDR 5.3 litre Phoenix crankshaft Blower Bentley engine (made to the exact blower specification) and supercharger installed by the restorer.
PN1562 is a very rare example, not only because it is styled on the legendary YU3250 which is one of the most famous registration numbers in Bentley history , however, unusually, it is also sitting on the far more desirable chassis making this a very proper and authentic “Birkin Blower” reproduction.