This is a recently rebuild Bentley 4½ Litre engine, it’s a rare unit with just 720 made, one of which won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1928, and another that powered James Bond’s original car in the Ian Fleming books Casino Royale, Live and Let Die, and Moonraker.

Of course, the James Bond car wasn’t real, but the vehicle in Fleming’s books was said to be a supercharged Bentley 4½-powered “Blower Bentley,” which would become one of the most famous racing cars of its time.

Bentley Blower Car Zero

Image DescriptionThis is the first of the 12 cars in the Bentley Blower Car Zero series. These were completely new vehicles built at Bentley between 2019 to 2020 as a continuation series to exact historic specifications. Image courtesy of Bentley Motors.

The origins of the Bentley 4½ engine lay in the original Bentley 3 Litre inline-four. It was an advanced engine by the standards of the late 1910s and early 1920s when it was developed, a dry-sump design with a single overhead camshaft powering four valves per cylinder, with a cross-flow head, and hemispherical combustion chambers.

Bentley’s powered by the 3.0 liter engine would win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1924 and then again in 1927. After this time it was clear that the competition was catching up, and even surpassing the British company, and so W.O. Bentley set to work developing a larger displacement 4½ liter engine (actually 4.4 liters).

This new larger engine had significantly increased power, with output of the non-racing version of the engine increasing from 70 bhp up to 110 bhp – a heady figure for the era. Highly-tuned racing versions of the 4½ Litre could make 130+ bhp, with the larger supercharged versions producing as much as 240 bhp.

As noted above, the original Bond car wasn’t the Aston Martin DB5, a car which hadn’t even been introduced when Ian Fleming started writing the books. Fleming had 007 driving one of the last Blower Bentleys ever built, a convertible coupe finished in battleship grey. This is a car that would have been just entering vintage status in 1953 when the first book was released.

The Bentley 4½ Litre Engine Shown Here

The engine you see here is believed to be the only Bentley 4½ Litre unit that is not currently fitted to a car. It was originally built in 1929 and fitted to chassis #PL3499, this was a Vanden Plas Open Sports Tourer supplied to its first owner in July of the same year.

By 1960 it had been installed into a different 4½ Litre chassis, its history file is then empty for years until it turned up Australia in 2018, fortunately in complete and well-preserved condition.

Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 6

Image DescriptionThis series of Bentley engines were exceedingly advanced by the standards of the time, with a dry-sump design, a single overhead camshaft powering four valves per cylinder, a cross-flow head, and hemispherical combustion chambers.

The engine was then shipped back the Britain and turned over to marque specialists for a full rebuild. Many of the original mechanical parts were reusable, and the engine was found to be in excellent condition for its age. The rebuild is now complete and the engine is said to run beautifully.

It’s now due to roll across the auction block with Car & Classic in the UK, and you can visit the listing here if you’d like to read more about it or register to bid.

Bentley Blower Car Zero Engine

Image DescriptionHere we see another example of the first car in the Bentley Blower Car Zero series, the original Bentley 4½ engine was recreated to exact specification for each of the 12 cars. Image courtesy of Bentley Motors.

Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 13 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 12 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 11 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 10 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 9 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 8 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 7 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 5 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 4 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 3 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 2 Bentley 4½ Litre Engine 1

Images courtesy of Car & Classic + Bentley Motors

Published by Ben Branch -