Monterey Car Week is a show-stopping four days of automotive indulgence. But while the biggest news comes from the champagne-soaked lawns of The Quail and Pebble Beach Golf Course, some of the best stories are hidden away in car parks.
Knowing this is how I got to spend some time with the new Bentley Blower Jnr, discovered at the back of a hotel parking lot as it was being prepared by The Little Car Company for its grand unveiling later that day.
With UK registration plates (complete with green bar, since this is technically the first all-electric Bentley) attached, the Blower Jnr is bigger than anything else produced by The Little Car Company. Based in Bicester, UK, the startup has previously built scaled-down versions of the Bugatti Type 35, Aston Martin DB5 and Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
But where those cars were intended to be driven on private land by parents and children alike, with room for both to sit side-by-side, the Blower Jnr is larger. It is 85% the size of the real Blowers raced by Bentley at Le Mans in the late-1920s, fully road-legal in the UK, US and Europe, and has seating for two adults sitting one behind the other.
The launch photos were impressive enough, showing the Jnr alongside the original car on which it is based, but in person it’s simply jaw-dropping. At a glance you might even mistake it for a full-size car – not least because it's the length of a modern Mini.
The paintwork is flawless, the interior leather (the same as used by Bentley itself) is buttery soft, and period-correct details like the rope-bound steering wheel and leather bonnet straps are all present and correct. The metal parking brake, mounted to the outside of the cabin just like the original, is wonderfully tactile.
The interior features an engine-turned aluminium dashboard with dials and controls that look original, but which have all been repurposed for the Blower Jnr’s electric drivetrain. There are readouts for battery charge, power, speed and the current time, plus controls for the lights, indicators, gears and drive mode. Modern amenities include a concealed USB port and a Garmin navigation system that doubles as a screen for the rear-view parking camera.
Where the Jnr deviates from its grandfather is most obvious at the front and rear. The original’s silver supercharge, sprouting from the front of the engine and between the headlights, has become the Jnr’s charge port, complete with billet aluminium cover.
At the rear, what was the fuel tank has been repurposed as a boot containing tailored leather luggage. Also breaking the vintage illusion are the modern, three-point seatbelts and their shoulder-height mounting posts, but given this is a road-legal car I’m glad they are there.
Top speed is 45 mph (but limited to 25 mph in the US), power is 15 kW (20 horsepower) and the range is a claimed 65 miles. That should be plenty for most occasions, but The Little Car Company says how the engine bay, which is almost entirely empty on the Jnr, could be filled with more batteries.
A three-figure range should be easily within reach for customers who really want it.
The three (!) Bugattis Chirons, Koenigsegg Regera and Aston Martin Valkyrie outside the front of the hotel may have attracted more attention from the hordes of Monterey car spotters, but for me the Blower Jnr tucked away at the back is the one I’d most like to hop in and drive.
Priced from £90,000 plus tax and shipping, the 'First Edition' variant seen here is available to order now, limited to 99 examples, and goes into production in the second quarter of 2024.