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Bentley’s grandiose plan to recreate one of its oldest and most emblematic race cars has summoned a dark cloud of disapproval from a group of wealthy collectors, including some who own the real thing. Several high-profile enthusiasts, like Ralph Lauren, jointly sent company boss Adrian Hallmark a letter to voice their concerns.
The project started in 2019, when Bentley announced it would make 12 replicas of the four 1929 Team Blower models built and raced by Sir Tim Birkin. The dozen racers were spoken for in record time, and owners-to-be are currently working with the company’s Mulliner division to configure their car. Bentley isn’t the only carmaker dabbling in continuation cars — Jaguar and Aston Martin have notably brought back classics in recent years — but its project is the only one that has generated strong, vocal opposition from the enthusiast community.
The recreation cars threaten to “dilute that special admiration and awe that can only come from viewing and embracing the genuine article,” according to the letter sent from Hallmark. It was signed by Lord Bamford, Evert Louwman, and William Connor, among other collectors. Simon Kidston, a classic car specialist whose uncle won the 1930 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans behind the wheel of a Bentley Speed Six, opined the recreations will devalue the real cars they’re modeled after. He also accused Bentley of turning into a poacher.
Bentley isn’t overly worried about the complaints.
“After much research and discussion with a number of the stakeholders (vintage Bentley owners, restorers, specialists, plus a selection Bentley Drivers Club and Benjafield Club members), we tested the idea of making an official Continuation Series based on our plans for a sole recreation, and were overwhelmed with the positivity of the response. While we heard some similar concerns to those expressed in the letter, the vast majority of feedback was hugely supportive of the project,” a company spokesperson told Autoblog.
The firm added the continuation cars will not be painted in the same color combinations as the four original racers so they’ll be instantly recognizable as replicas. Production and deliveries will carry on as planned, then.