Vintage Bentley Sells for World Record at Bonhams Auction

By P. Joseph

A 1929 Bentley red racer, once owned by the British racing driver Sir Henry Birkin, sold for £5 million at auction last week – making it the most expensive Bentley ever sold at public auction.

The ½-litre supercharged ‘Blower’ Bentley single-seater was sold at a Bonhams Auction at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, an annual hill climb featuring historic motor racing vehicles held in the grounds of Goodwood House, West Sussex, England.

It featured in the sale as part of a collection once owned by famed watchmaker George Daniels of seven cars, two motorcycles and assorted automobilia.

Doug Nye, Bonhams historian, said: “It is wonderful to see this iconic car’s true value recognised by the world market.

“The Birkin single-seater Bentley was, in effect, the Concorde of its time, the fastest car around the high Brooklands bankings. It was driven by a great British hero in Sir Henry Birkin and was the most glamorous racing car of the era.”

The sale of Daniels’ collection also featured a 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Long Chassis Touring Spider, which fetched more than £2.5 million. The Alfa Romeo formed part of Birkin’s 1932 Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race entry with his friend Earl Howe.

Malcolm Barber, Bonhams chief executive officer and auctioneer at the sale, said: “The prices achieved for George Daniels’s cars today are a fitting tribute to one of the truly great artist engineers of the 20th Century.

“George was not only a fantastic craftsman who hand-made some of the world’s most desirable watches, he was also a car connoisseur held in immense respect throughout the vintage motoring world.”

During its race career, the 1929 Bentley red racer won the prestigious Le Mans 24-Hour Endurance Race on several occasions. It was later converted into a two-seater roadster before being acquired by George Daniels.

By P. Joseph