Although today thought of primarily as a proprietor of finely-finished luxury cars, Bentley made its name decades earlier for its racing success at Le Mans and the British track of Brooklands in Surrey. As evidence of the enduring appreciation for Bentley’s motorsports heritage, Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin’s 4 ½ Litre Supercharged ‘Blower’ fetched a record £4.5 million (approximately $7 million) at Bonhams’ Goodwood auction this past Friday. The previous record for a Bentley was set in 2004 for a Speed Six known as ‘Old No. 2’ that went for £2.8 million at the Le Mans Classic.
Birkin was a well-known racing personality of his day, and set a 137.96 mph speed record at Brooklands, a hair-raising velocity in those days. The car produced 240 hp from its 4.5-liter four-cylinder engine.
Richard Charlesworth, director of VIP and Royal Relations for Bentley, commented on the significance of the car and the new auction record:
“Birkin, along with his Bentley racing friends like Woolf Barnato, Dudley Benjafield and Glen Kidston were true sporting superstars, renowned not only for their driving ability and courage, but living life to the full and in some considerable style. They would create the enduring legend of the Bentley Boy racer at Brooklands and Le Mans, and this new record price for a Bentley achieved by Bonhams reflects the enduring respect and admiration for their story and their cars. “