Brooklands record breaker poised for life overseas… unless new buyer steps forward
Tim Birkin’s famous red single-seater Bentley will disappear overseas if £5.1m is not found by the end of October. Bought at a Bonhams auction last year by an overseas bidder, the supercharged 41/2-litre Outer Circuit record breaker was built by the flamboyant baronet specifically for Brooklands, and the idea of it sitting mute in an air-conditioned hall thousands of miles away should appal anyone with a feeling for Britain’s racing past. Luckily the machine’s importance put it in front of the government committee (literally – it went to Westminster) that reviews exports of art and culturally significant items, and Culture Minister Ed Vaizey confirmed an export ban until October. The new owner has agreed to relinquish the car if his price is matched, and the ban can be extended if there’s a serious purchase proposal.
Brooklands Museum director Allan Winn told me that while he welcomed the news, the museum is already committed to major fund-raising projects for moving the hangar off the Finishing Straight, repairing the straight-eight Delage and completing the ex-Jenks Duesenberg, and couldn’t itself institute a fund. “I’m pleased by the ban,” he said, “and naturally I’d like to see the car at Brooklands, but the important thing is that it stays in Britain.”
He has decided, though, that the museum can co-ordinate any such fund “whether it’s one individual or a consortium,” so anyone interested in preserving this significant machine in its homeland should contact Brooklands on 01932 857381. And soon – a serious proposal by the end of October would trigger a temporary reprieve.