This incredible creation is the latest work of previous bloggee and TLCB Master MOCer Dennis Glaasker aka Brickonwheels. It’s a 1930 Bentley 4½ Litre ‘Blower’ as raced by Sir Henry Birkin in the 1930 Le Mans 24 Hour race, recreated by Dennis in astonishing detail in 1:8th scale from LEGO’s beautifully appropriate new dark green pieces.
Following Bentley’s victories in 1928 and ’29 at Le Mans the rival German teams brought supercharging to their race cars, instantly relegating the previous naturally aspirated Bentleys to mid-pack. Bentley answered with a new 6½ Litre design, however Birkin believed adding a supercharger to the existing 4½ Litre car was a better solution. With independent funding from wealthy (and eccentric) friends, the the result was the 4½ Litre ‘Blower’, which Birkin took to Le Mans to race against the official 6½ Litre works cars.
W. O. Bentley famously did not approve of Sir Henry Birkin’s supercharger modification, despite selling 55 cars to be modified so that the design could be raced. It was Bentley Motors themselves that took another win as, whilst fast, Birkin’s creation proved unreliable in the gruelling 24 hour race, retiring after 138 laps.
W. O. Bentley folded his works motorsport programme that year after four back-to-back Le Mans victories, claiming there was nothing more the company could learn from the race. A year later Bentley Motors went into administration. The Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression that followed saw demand for luxury cars plummet and Bentley – unable to keep up their mortgage payments – were forced into liquidation.
Sir Henry Birkin returned to Le Mans the next year, winning in an Alfa Romeo with fellow British driver Earl Howe, a feat upon which Mussolini personally congratulated him by telegram for his ‘win for Italy’.
Meanwhile Bentley Motors was put up for sale, with the ‘British Central Equitable Trust’ winning the bid to buy the company for £125,000 in 1931. The Trust proved to be a front for none other than arch rivals Rolls Royce, and the companies merged that year. W. O. Bentley himself was retained under contract, but unhappy at Rolls Royce he left for Lagonda in 1935, despite apparently stating that Bentley had made their best car under Rolls Royce ownership.
Sadly Sir Henry Birkin’s story proved more tragic. Reaching down to pick up a cigarette lighter during a pit-stop at the 1933 Tripoli Grand Prix (only in the 1930s!), Birkin badly burnt himself on the exhaust pipe of his Maserati 8C. The wound turned septic and he died a month later, aged just 36.
Dennis Glaasker’s breathtaking Bentley 4½ Litre ‘Blower’ as raced by Sir Henry Birkin is a fitting tribute to both one of motorsports most unusual cars and to the gentleman that raced it. A beautifully detailed engine, chassis, fuel tank, interior and drivetrain are present, and custom decals, chromed pieces, and even a rubber sheet to cover the rear seats add to the model’s phenomenal realism.
Full details of Dennis’ stunning creation can be found at the Eurobricks Forum, whilst the complete gallery of spectacular imagery is available to view on Flickr. You can also read our interview with the builder himself as part of the Master MOCers Series to find out how his incredible creations like this are made. Take look via the links above.