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Undoubtedly encouraged by Bentley Bowler’s success, Bentley is expanding its “Continuation Series” series, which aims to revive pre-war icons. The Speed Six is considered one of the most important Bentleys in history, showing that not only the brand’s performance, but also the concept of the Grand Tourer – a fast car that remained comfortable and luxurious and able to travel great distances with ease. The 12-car series will be developed and built by the same team of Mulliner specialists who created the Blower Continuation series – the world’s first pre – war continuation project.
Speed Six became the most successful racer Bentley, won Le Mans in 1929 and 1930 in the hands of Woolf Barnato, Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin and Glen Kidston. Walter Owen Bentley believed that the best way to increase power was to increase capacity, contrary to Tim Birkin’s belief in supercharging. He therefore developed a new, larger engine to succeed the 4½-liter. With a bore of 100 mm and a stroke of 140 mm, its new straight-six had a capacity of almost 6.6 liters. It was the brand’s first straight-six, which delivered 147 hp at 3500 rpm.
The Speed Six chassis was introduced in 1928 as a more sporty version of the 6-liter, which first suffered from excessive tire wear. The engine was modified to release more power with two SU carburetors, a higher compression ratio and a camshaft performance, responsible for an increase to 180 hp. The racing version of the Speed Six had an engine with a compression ratio of 6.1: 1 and developed 200 hp. Two Le Mans victories in 1929 and 1930 cemented Speed Six’s place in Bentley’s history, with the victory in 1929 setting a new benchmark for racing dominance. Driven by Woolf Barnato and Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin, the galleon figures from ‘Bentley Boys’, a Speed Six was led from the opening round to the checkered flag, followed by a procession with three other Bentleys. It is also with a Speed Six that Woolf Barnato beats the famous “blue train” in 1930 on the Cannes-Calais route, a kind of apotheosis from this decade of the roaring twenties.
Almost a century later
The Speed Six Continuation series was announced at the Goodwood Festival of Speed by Bentley’s chairman and CEO Adrian Hallmark: “The Mulliner team will once again be supported by an incredible number of craftsmen from a range of motoring specialists across the UK, delivering hobby parts that are not only physically identical but in many cases manufactured using the same techniques used in 1920s This dedication to complete and complete authenticity is an integral part of the success of such a complex project. “
To deliver 12 authentic new Speed Sixes in the design of 1929 and 1930 racers, the Mulliner team first created a complete 3D CAD model of the car, based on the original drawings and detailed analyzes of the original cars. Two cars have been referred to this process. The first new Speed Six in 92 years will be assembled in the second half of this year and will be the project’s technical development and test car. The first of these two chassis, known as the “Old Number 3”, was the third of the six Speed Six chassis introduced in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans by Bentley. Despite the many races it has participated in, it has been kept in excellent condition by its current owner and remains registered for road use.
Nostalgia feels good. Bentley returns to its glorious past by developing 12 examples of the legendary Speed Six that won the 24-hour Le Mans with “Bentley Boys” as part of the Continuation Series.