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Driven! The Bentley Blower Junior Is the World’s Coolest City Car​

Very few machines at any price can elicit as much reaction as this scale vintage car.


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The Bentley Blower Jnr—for “Junior”—will easily outperform a Ferrari 296 GTB and a Lamborghini Huracán Tecnica and would probably give a Bugatti Chiron a run for its money.



Not in a straight line, of course. Nor through a corner. But drive this electric-powered, 85 percent scale replica of one of the most famous Bentleys ever built, and you will almost certainly turn more heads, get more raised thumbs, and generate more wide smiles than if you were behind the wheel of something fast and exotic from Europe’s supercar elite.
And you may have more fun than you thought possible in a car with an electronically limited top speed of just 40 mph.
Created by The Little Car Company, the British firm that has built gorgeous, electric-powered scale replicas of the Type 35 Bugatti, the Ferrari Testarossa, and the Aston Martin DB5 Volante—and in a twist is working on a life-size version of the Tamiya Wild One R/C car—the Bentley Blower Jnr is a fastidious 85 percent scale re-creation of one of the supercharged 1929 4½-Litre “Blower” Bentleys entered by the factory in the 1930 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It has been developed with the full approval of Bentley and, unlike The Little Car Company’s previous creations, can be legally registered and driven on the road in the U.S., the U.K., and Europe.

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Blowing Electrons​

The Blower Jnr has a 48-volt electric powertrain with a rear-mounted 20-hp motor that drives the rear wheels and 10.8-kWh battery pack claimed to deliver 60 miles of range. The pack is housed in an undertray beneath the painted steel frame. The charge point is hidden in the replica of the Amherst Villiers supercharger that gave the original 240-hp Blower its nickname, and The Little Car Company says the battery can be fully recharged on a 22-kW charger in three hours.
Apart from the Brembo front disc brakes, the rest of the chassis hardware is 1929 state-of-the-art: solid front axle, leaf springs, period-correct friction dampers, Pitman-arm steering linkage. The chunky-treaded cross-ply tires from British vintage reproduction tire specialist Blockley are scaled-down versions of those fitted to the Mulliner continuation Blowers, mounted on 18-inch wire wheels rather than the full-size car’s 20s.

The rear body structure that wraps around the tandem seating is carbon fiber rather than the ash wood used in 1929, but it’s covered in fabric, just like the original. The hood is hand crafted in aluminum and secured with leather straps, and the traditional Bentley mesh grille is enclosed by a nickel-plated radiator housing. There’s nothing under the hood. The external fuel tank at the car's rear has a lockable hatch to allow it to be used as a trunk. A travel bag designed specifically to fit in the tank is available as an option.
There’s only one door, on the left-hand side of the car. It looks tiny, but it is in fact one of just two parts on the Blower Jnr that are the same size as on the original car. The other part? The mesh in the grille.
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Only One Obvious Modern Concession​

The only real visual incongruities on the Blower Jnr are the two posts poking up on the right-hand side of the cockpit. They’re needed for the seat belts that allow the Blower Jnr to be registered and driven on the road. Even then, most people who came and asked about the car initially believed it was an actual 4½-Litre Bentley that had been lovingly restored.
You sit at the center of the Blower Jnr behind a vintage four-spoke steering wheel that, in the 99 First Edition models, is wrapped in rope to ensure extra grip, just as in the 1929 factory race car. The dash is engine-turned aluminum, with period-style instruments that, apart from the speedometer and clock, have been cleverly reconfigured to show the battery state of charge and regeneration levels.
Press the start button and then, on what looks like the ignition advance and retard control from the original car, select drive. Squeeze the accelerator, and the Blower Jnr pulls smoothly away. While that experience—and the reassuring consistency of the Brembo brakes—feels modern, the Blower Jnr otherwise drives a lot like a vintage car, which is hardly surprising when you look at the suspension geometry.

There’s that slightly bouncy cadence to the ride that comes with the leaf springs and friction dampers. The big steering wheel gives you ample leverage to get the Blower Jnr around corners, and it’s busy in your hands, feeding back every lump and bump on the road. The electric motor’s modest output means you won’t get wheelspin, but those narrow, blocky tires mean grip can be at a premium on damp road. Even at 30 mph this little Bentley feels alive. And that’s where the fun is.
It might be 85 percent the size of the real thing, but you don’t feel intimidated wheeling it through modern traffic. That’s because the vintage seating position is about as high as that in a compact SUV—you look down into regular cars—and because being seated at the center of the car allows you to aim it perfectly through gaps in the traffic that would stymie your 697-hp Aston Martin DBX707 or $185,000 Mercedes-AMG G63.
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It’s Not Cheap, But It Is Incredible​

The First Edition model costs $115,000. In addition to the rope-wrapped steering wheel, it comes painted in classic Blower Green with a hand-painted Union flag on both sides of the car, as well as the number two painted on the mesh grille. The seats are trimmed in the same dark green Lustrana Hide used by Mulliner for the Blower Continuation Series.
Yes, the slow and expensive Bentley Blower Jnr is a rich person’s toy. But as it can legally be driven on the road, for those people who live in the center of crowded European cities, it’s arguably a less pointless and less expensive toy than the dozens of snarling supercars or high-horsepower SUVs that spend their entire lives idling at the same speeds through the same traffic. In that context, it is the world’s coolest city car.
In America, it’s a different story, because for legal reasons, U.S. market versions are electronically limited to a top speed of 25 mph. That’s OK for use in closed communities, but it dampens the Blower Jnr’s appeal as a fun runabout in places like Manhattan or South Beach or Beverly Hills.
That’s a shame, because the Bentley Blower Jnr is guaranteed to make everyone who sees one break into a grin. And the world needs more cars that simply make people smile.
 
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