1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre

History

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

1928 Vehicle Profiles

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

LeMans Sport Bobtail
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: KM3088
Engine Num: MF3175

The Bentley Boys were able to capture five outright victories in seven short years, proving their speed and endurance. Bentley was victories in 1924, but were unable to repeat this success in 1925 and 1926 with their 3 Liter models. Bentley responded....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Semi-Le Mans Sports Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: MF3153
Engine Num: SM3905

In just seven years, Bentley achieved five outright victories at the grueling 24 Hours of Le Mans. ....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: PM3252
Engine Num: PM3256

Bentley built 665 examples of the 4½-Litre chassis, with nearly all of them with the longer 3300-millimeter (129.9 inch) wheelbase and all with custom coachwork. Production lasted four years, with few modifications being made to the engine during tha....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

An example of the 1928 Bentley 4.5-liter Vanden Plas style LeMans Tourer. More than 20% of the Bentleys produced were fitted with Vanden Plas bodies. It was restored to perfection in England both mechanically and cosmetically.....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: YV7263
Engine Num: KM3096

This is Tim Birkin's own 4.5-Litre Bentley and it was driven in more races in period than any other vintage Bentley. Built with a bobtailed rear end, YV7263 was modified to its existing bodywork after its first race at Brooklands. That same year it r....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer

Chassis Num: TX3246
Engine Num: PM3275

This car first raced at the Ulster TT in 1928 driven by its owner. Its greatest success came in the Brooklands 500 Mile Race when, wearing modified rear bodywork and driven by Clement and Jack Barclay, it won at an average speed of over 107 mph. YW57....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Flexible Coupe
Coachwork: Harrison

Chassis Num: XR3347
Engine Num: XR3347

This Harrison-bodied coupe is very rare amongst vintage Bentleys. Of the 667 4.5-Litre cars built very few have survived in their original configuration. This car was ordered by a Mr. J.D. Gordon of Scotland as a fast touring car for the unpredictabl....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Harrison

Chassis Num: PM3259
Engine Num: PM3258

This Bentley began life with a Harrison four-seater tourer body. By the mid-1980s, it had entered the care of an owner who would own the car for around three decades. During that time, it was treated to a restoration, where its present coachwork was ....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

Chassis Num: HF3177
Engine Num: HF3178 / SL 3054

This Bentley started life as a four-door saloon originally bodied by Freestone and Webb. After an accident in 1936 it was sent back to Bentley Motors for a rebuild. In 1939 four Cambridge University students in England drove this car to Andorra and b....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Drophead Coupe
Coachwork: Victor Broom

This 1928 Victor Broom-bodied 4.5 Litre Bentley is the only known surviving example of eight cars built to this specification. It was first restored in 1962 by Stuart Wallace, who was only a student at the time. It cost him less than the price of a n....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer
Coachwork: Vanden Plas

This Bentley was originally purchased by a prominent Australian for his daughter's 21st birthday.....[continue reading]

1928 Bentley 4.5 Litre vehicle information

Tourer

Chassis Num: SL3075
Engine Num: SL3071

The 4.5-Litre is a family-owned Bentley, driven by father and sons for 22 years. It originally wore 2 seater Saloon coachwork by Arnold, which was later removed and installed on HB 3410.....[continue reading]

LeMans Sport Bobtail by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: KM3088 
Semi-Le Mans Sports Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: MF3153 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: PM3252 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: YV7263 
Tourer
Chassis #: TX3246 
Flexible Coupe by Harrison
Chassis #: XR3347 
Tourer by Harrison
Chassis #: PM3259 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
Chassis #: HF3177 
Drophead Coupe by Victor Broom
 
Tourer by Vanden Plas
 
Tourer
Chassis #: SL3075 


Concepts by Bentley



Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Bentley
1933Chevrolet (486,261)Ford (334,969)Plymouth (298,557)
1932Chevrolet (313,404)Ford (210,824)Plymouth (186,106)
1931Chevrolet (619,554)Ford (615,455)Buick (138,965)
1930Ford (1,140,710)Chevrolet (640,980)Buick (181,743)
1929Ford (1,507,132)Chevrolet (1,328,605)Buick (196,104)
1928Chevrolet (1,193,212)Ford (607,592)Willys Knight (231,360)
1927Chevrolet (1,001,820)Ford (367,213)Buick (255,160)
1926Ford (1,669,847)Chevrolet (547,724)Buick (266,753)
1925Ford (1,669,847)Chevrolet (306,479)Dodge (201,000)
1924Ford (1,831,128)Chevrolet (264,868)Dodge (193,861)
1923Ford (1,831,128)Chevrolet (323,182)Buick (210,572)

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