Saturday, 11 February 2012

4.5 Litre 'Birkin' Bentley

Tim Birkin was one of the racing drivers known as the "Bentley Boys" in the 1920s.  Birkin added an Amhurst Villiers supercharger to a 4.5 litre Bentley fitted with a slim body, an offset single seat and a large streamlined radiator cowling.

This car captured the outright lap record at Brooklands at the 1930 Easter meeting when it lapped at 135.33 mph. The car used a gallon of fuel every 59 seconds and it developed 240 bhp.

So this is my choice as the racing partner for the Stutz Blackhawk, against which it historically competed at Le Mans.  Like the Stutz, this is a kit from Penelope Pitlane and comes with the resin body, metal chassis and small parts, motor, and running gear.

With the body cleaned up and the chassis put together, it looks like this:

When it raced at Brooklands, the car was painted red but I found out that it was originally painted French Blue - not a colour usually associated with British racing cars - so I thought I'd paint it that colour instead.  First the undercoat in grey:

And then the French Blue, using Humbrol's gloss spray acrylic paint:

I then painted up the chassis parts, fitted the fuel caps, exhaust, supercharger and windscreen, and put it all together.

Tim Birkin apparently wore a blue scarf with white spots when racing:

And here's a view of the supercharger which made this the "Blower Bentley".  W.O. Bentley was hostile to forced induction and believed that "to supercharge a Bentley engine was to pervert its design and corrupt its performance."  He refused to allow the engine to be modified to incorporate the compressor, which was therefore placed at the end of the crankshaft, in front of the radiator - which didn't help the understeer!

So now I have two Penelope Pitlane models ready to be raced:

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