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Testing Begins on the Bentley Speed Six Cars Only 12 People on the Planet Will Drive

Carmakers who like to think of themselves as being at the top of the industry often release into the world so-called Continuation Series. Technically a supplement of some historically important model in the carmaker's history, such a limited run of cars is meant for the most dedicated of each brand's fans.
Bentley already testing Speed Six Continuation Series 22 photos
Photo: Bentley
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For Bentley the most recent foray into this exclusive universe comes as the Speed Six Continuation Series. Announced in the summer of last year, the limited run of just 12 vehicles is meant to bring back the excitement of the Speed Six race cars that back in 1929 and 1930 successfully entered the Le Mans race.

Because this is Bentley we're talking about, the choice was made not to rebuild the cars with modern-day techniques and tools, but by using "period-correct tools, fixings and techniques."

After all, that seems like the sensible way to do things considering all 12 vehicles have been assembled while engineers were looking at original drawings and mechanics' notes from many decades ago.

What that means is some rich modern-day people of the year 2023 can get to enjoy the cars as if they were built in the 1930s, not only in terms of the finished product, but also in the way it was put together.

Sure, says Bentley, some "minor items where changes are required to avoid illegality," but other than that, we're staring at the "world's first pre-war continuation series" - looking, feeling, and behaving as if they were made decades ago and somehow made it to our day without aging one little bit.

We got the first glimpse of how such an old car would look on a modern-day track back in July, when the first example of the Speed Six Continuation series, the so-called Car Zero, was shown at the 2023 Goodwood Festival of Speed.

Bentley already testing Speed Six Continuation Series
Photo: Bentley
This week Bentley announced a second car, the one nicknamed Factory Works, has been completed as well, moving the project into an entirely new phase.

Bentley will soon begin testing Car Zero on the track, planning to drive it for as much as 8,000 km (4,970 miles) in a bid to simulate 35,000 km (21,700 miles) of real-world driving. The carmaker calls this phase of the project durability testing, and aims to check all of the car's systems, "under the most challenging conditions."

Only after the tests have been completed will Bentley move on to actually building the 12 customer cars. Each of them will be handled by Mulliner, using for reference two original Speed Six vehicles.

One of them is the Bentley-owned Speed Six, serial number GU409, while the second is a car that became known in the racing world as the Old Number 3. This one was driven by Sammy Davis and Clive Dunfee during the 1930 Le Mans race.

The customer Speed Sixes will be powered by the same 6½-liter engines that were fitted in the original cars, only built new using both old and modern techniques. Back in their day, these powerplants were rated at 197 horsepower, which was huge for that time.

Dyno testing of the new engines has shown power could be taken to at least 202 horsepower and even higher if the customers so desire, but the carmaker advises against doing that because "the aim of the Continuation Series team is to create a Bentley exactly as it would have looked and performed in 1930."

Bentley already testing Speed Six Continuation Series
Photo: Bentley
Bentley will include in the 12 cars all the modifications made by its works team in the 1930s, and it will offer them in five authentic colors. Each of the only 12 people on this planet that will get to drive the Continuation Speed Sixes will have their say in how the cars are styled using the Factory Works car as a canvas.

We're told production of each of the 12 cars will take ten months, meaning we are not to expect to see any of them on the roads or on the tracks before 2025. The price of a single such beauty is said to be £1.5 million, which translates into $1.88 million at today's exchange rates.

The start of testing for the Speed Six series comes shortly after the British carmaker announced it has delivered the entire batch of the other 12 Continuation cars it has been working on recently, the Blower.

Just like the Speed Six, the Blower was a constant presence at Le Mans in the same period, being raced by a private team led by Sir Tim Birkin. These cars had the 4½-liter supercharged engine under the hood that also happens to have borrowed its name to the vehicle.

Both the revived Blower and the Speed Six are eligible to take part in racing events for historic vehicles, even the ones sanctioned by the FIA. In fact, one Blower already did that, when Bentley entered its own Car Zero in the Le Mans Classic race held back in July.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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