Image credits: © Bentley.

1929 Bentley 4.5 Litre news, pictures, specifications, and information
Robinson Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
By the mid-1920s, Bentley realized the need for a new four-cylinder model. The 3 Litre model - though a Le Mans winner - was suffering due increasingly heavy bodies. With the 6.5 Liter in production, Bentley sought to combine the light chassis of the 3 Liter with the extra power of a larger motor. The result was basically a chassis from a 3 Litre with a four-cylinder version of the 6.5 litre engine.

The new 4.5 Liter was immediately put into competition. The Bentley Boys quickly amassed Le Mans and Grand Prix finishes and victories. Though the Speed Six was a true champion at Le Mans for Bentley, it was Birkin's admiration and respect for the 4.5 Litre that led to the development of the Blower Bentley.

Apart from its racing duties, the production 4.5 Litre was also a luxury car fitted with saloon coachwork. They gained a reputation for being a superb handling Bentley with an exceptional power-to-weight ratio.


The body of this car is a Tony Robinson aluminum skin Vanden Plas 4-seat-tourer with a 6 and 1/2 liter bonnet (long hood). This car started life as a sedan in 1929 and was quickly converted to a Vanded Plas tourer in the 30s. The car has been an open tourer most of its life.

The car is powered by a water-cooled, single-overhead-cam, 4-cylinder, with 4 valves per cylinder, 4,500 cc (4.5-liter) engine, developing 110 horsepower coupled to a 4-speed manual transmission. The 3,630-pound car has a top speed of 94 miles per hour. The chassis consists of channel-steel, front and rear suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs, and 4-wheel drum brakes.

The car's mascot, 'Icarus,' is a rare commission by W.O. Bentley and sculpted by Gordon Crosby. The car underwent a complete restoration from the bare chassis to the Hobson Telegauge gas gauge that actually works.

Production amounted to a total of 733 cars of all body styles. Fifty-four cars were equipped with the famous supercharged engine, 'Blower Bentleys,' built by the race driver Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin as a private venture - against W.O. Bentley's wishes.
The car is powered by a water-cooled, single-overhead-cam, 4-cylinder, with 4 valves per cylinder, 4,500 cc (4.5-liter) engine, developing 110 horsepower coupled to a 4-speed manual transmission. The 3,630-pound car has a top speed of 94 miles per ho  [Read More...]
Salmon & Sons Coupe
Coachwork: Salmon & Sons
This 1929 Bentley, 2-seater, drophead coupe retains its original coachwork by Salmons & Sons of Newport-Pagnell in England who has produced coaches from the early 1800s. The present owner purchased the car from the Milligen Collection and brought it  [Read More...]
Tourer
Chassis Num: SM 3903
Engine Num: SM 3907
Chassis number SM 3903 was first registered on October 21st 1929 as UW 3761, the engine number being entered in the log book as SM 3907. It was owned originally by the factory and sent straight away to the Olympia Motor Show. After the show the fac  [Read More...]
Tourer
Chassis Num: NX3466
This 1929 Bentley 4.5-Liter LeMans Tourer carries chassis number NX3466. It was brought to the 2007 Monterey Historics where it participated in the Group 1A 'Pre-1939 Sports, Touring Cars' race in Laguna Seca.  [Read More...]
Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HB3403
Bentley Motors supplied this 4.5-Litre to The Hon. Dorothy Paget for Tim Birkin to drive the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1930. With the addition of Birkin-inspired superchargers never officially sanctioned by Bentley Motors, this car and a second 4.5-Litr  [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2009
Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HB3404/R
YU3250 is one of the most famous registration numbers in Bentley history. This car is the subject of some of the most collectable model cars in many different scales and can be found in many children's car collections - and those of their fathers! Al  [Read More...]
Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: HR3976
This 'Birkin Blower 4' is one of the three Blower Bentleys entered by the Dorothy Paget and Tim Birkin team at LeMans in 1930. Driven by Dr. Dudley Benjafield and Giulio Ramponi the car expired after 144 laps. The supercharged LeMans are distinguishe  [Read More...]
Offset Single Seater
Designer: Reid Railton
Chassis Num: HB3402
Sold for $7,906,745 (£5,041,500) at 2012 Bonhams.
Reid Railton designed this offset single seater for its owner, Bentley Boy Tim Birkin. The engine was modified to cope with the stress of the supercharger. This Blower Bentley recorded its first victory at its first race at Brooklands. The next targe  [Read More...]
Tourer
Coachwork: Thrupp and Maberly
Chassis Num: MR3990
This particular car is one of a very small number of vintage Bentleys that have survived with their original open four-seater coachwork intact. Chassis MR3390 was delivered to Thrupp & Maberly, one of the oldest English coachbuilders who excellence h  [Read More...]
Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
Chassis Num: FB3317
Sold for $671,000 at 2011 RM Auctions.
High bid of €490,000 at 2013 RM Auctions. (did not sell)
This Open Tourer by Vanden Plas has never been converted to Le Mans replica status. It wears its body, chassis, engine and registration which it was born. It was delivered in January of 1929 from the Bentley Motors, Ltd. Cricklewood, England factory   [Read More...]
By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2011
Two-Seat Sports
Coachwork: Harrison
Chassis Num: DS3568
The new 4.5-liter Bentley arrived on the scene in late-1927 following the prototype's debut at that year's LeMans race, where it set a new lap record. It was the successor to the 3-liter using features of the original 4-cylinder engine as well as som  [Read More...]
Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas
This Bentley 4.5 Litre Vanden Plas Tourer was first delivered to Hubert Mason with body number 1615 by the Vanden Plas works in June 1929. It was later owned by the great Bentley collector and author, Johnnie Green. When acquired by the present owner  [Read More...]
The Bentley 4 1/2 liter came into existence to fill a void left by the 3-liter and the 6.5-liter variants. The 3-liter suffered from underperformance while the 6.5-liter was unsafe for the roads. The 6.5-liter was powerful, and with poor road-conditions often caused tires to fail quickly. The solution was the Bentley 4.5-liter; a vehicle that had enough power to carry the vehicle down the road at a good pace. The chassis consists of channel-steel, front and rear suspension by semi-elliptic leaf springs, and 4-wheel drum brakes.
Production amounted to a total of 733 cars of all body styles. Fifty-four cars were equipped with the famous supercharged engine, 'Blower Bentleys,' built by the race driver Sir Henry 'Tim' Birkin as a private venture - against W.O. Bentley's wishes.

The 4.5-Liter Supercharged Bentley, better known as the 'Blower' Bentleys, is a sporting automotive icon that earned its place in history as an engineering marvel and powerhouse. Only 50 examples, plus an additional five racing prototypes, were created. In the modern era, they are among the top rank in collector cars throughout the world.

Engineer and founder W.O. Bentley was hesitant to adapt a supercharger to his 4.5-liter engines. Rather, the development was financed by a woman, the Honorable Dorthy Paget, who provided the funds necessary to complete the project. It was for Henry R.S. 'Tim' Birkin, one of the 'Bentley Boys' who campaigned the Bentleys at many venues and various competition events bringing recognition and victories to the Bentley marque. The list includes Brooklands with its closed oval course, and the other extreme, LeMans, with his challenging road course.

Birkin had intended to race the supercharged 4.5-liter Bentley at LeMans in 1929, but lubrication problems on the early cars halted those plans. Instead, Woolf Barnato (Bentley's chairman and fellow factory team racer), Birkin, and Glen Kidston drove the Bentley Speed Six Models in 1929 to victories at LeMans.

Birkin was able to convince Barnato to enter the 'blower' Bentley in the 1930 LeMans race. In order to do so, homologation requirements had to be satisfied. The rules stated a minimum of 50 examples had to be built. Bentley officially introduced their production versions of the cars at the 1929 Olympia Motor Show, with the fist cars on sale in April of 1930.

With homologation requirements satisfied, Bentley entered two blowers and three Speed Six models. Birkin's LeMans blower was co-drive by Jean Chassagne. The Blower Bentley showed great promise early in the race, and by the fourth lap had passed a highly-competitive supercharged Mercedes at 126 mph. In the process it shredded a tire and was forced to stop. At the time, they had been averaging 89.66 mph per lap, which was a new lap record for the course.

The other Bentley's were given the job of chasing down the Mercedes. Their job became much easier when the Mercedes was forced to retire when their battery died. The Blower Bentley's would endure similar fate, as they were forced to retire in the 20th hour. The Speed Six models went on to secure a 1-2 Bentley victory.

1930 was the last year the Bentley factory team would compete at LeMans, as the company had fallen on very difficult economical times. Dorothy Paget eventually withdrew her support for the Birkin blowers as the cost to compete continued to escalate. This brought an end to the short-lived saga of the Bentley blower era.
By Daniel Vaughan | Apr 2008
 
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