Brooklands record-holding Barnato-Hassan Bentley on sale for £4.5m

Historic Racing News

The Barnato-Hassan Bentley, which still holds a 142.6mph lap record at Brooklands, will be on display and available to buy at Salon Privé London

Barnato-Hassan Special


A one-off 8-litre Bentley that was built to break a Brooklands lap record it still holds — 87 years later — is up for sale.

Priced at £4.5m, Chassis BH1 will be on display at the Salon Privé London show later this month, as part of the Concours de Vente section where every car is available to buy on the spot.

It was commissioned by Bentley Boy and former company chairman Woolf Barnato for the sole purpose of the Brooklands record run. The single-seater was eventually fitted with the 8-litre engine that would power it and driver Oliver Bertram to a lap record of 142.6mph on Brooklands’ Outer Circuit in 1935.

Developed in the wake of Bentley’s collapse and sale to Rolls-Royce, the car initially used the 6 1/2-litre engine from a Brooklands race-winning Speed Six, with a narrow chassis built by legendary engineer Walter Hassan.

Oliver Bertram at Brooklands in 1935 with the Barnato-Hassan Special

Bertram at Brooklands in 1935 in the Barnato-Hassan Special


The Barnato-Hassan Special was soon upgraded with an 8-litre engine and Bertram, an experienced driver and barrister, recruited to wrestle the 1.47 tonne machine around Brooklands during a solo attempt at the BARC August Bank Holiday Meeting.

John Cobb’s 140.91mph lap record, set a year before in his Napier-Railton, was the target and the attempt was the “outstanding feature” of a lengthy race schedule, Motor Sport reported at the the time.

“The apparent steadiness of the car was remarkable,” we wrote in the September 1935 issue. “Oliver Bertram went out with the green Barnato-Hassan. After receiving the OK signal he put his foot down to magnificent purpose. Hand timing showed him to have covered his first lap at 142 mph and the second was even faster. Then he pulled up at the Fork and was heartily congratulated by the delighted owner of the car, Capt. Woolf Barnato.

From the archive

“Bertram had handled the car beautifully, not very high on the banking and never giving a real impression of his actual speed. His two laps had been covered at 142.03 mph and 142.60 mph respectively, his fastest time being 69.85 seconds. Cobb’s record was 70.68 seconds or 140.93 mph.”

In the event, Bertram’s overall lap record stood for barely a month. Cobb raised the benchmark to 143.44mph in October but the Barnato-Hassan held on to the Class B record for engines up to 8000cc: the Napier-Railton’s 23,890cc motor putting it squarely into Class A.

Hassan continued to work on the car during Brooklands’ sunset years and Bertram lapped at more than 143mph in 1938 but it wasn’t recognised, as it took place during a race. When the circuit closed in 1939, its earlier Class B record still stood unbeaten.

In the last 84 years, the car has gone on to five different owners and has raced on at classic events, including at Goodwood and Silverstone.

Hassan went on to work with Cobb on his land speed record-breaking Railton Special. He joined Jaguar and was involved in five Le Mans wins of the 1950s; he also developed the Coventry Climax engine into a world championship winner with Cooper.

The Barnato-Hassan Bentley is being sold by Vintage Bentley and will be on display at Salon Privé at Royal Hospital Chelsea in London on 21-23 April.

Oliver Bertram on track at Brooklands in 1938 with the Barnato-Hassan Special

Bertram back at Brooklands with the Barnato-Hassan in 1938


Barnato-Hassan Bentley: the pre-war races it entered

500 Mile Race

Easter Senior Short Handicap Race
Easter Senior Long Handicap race
Gold Star Handicap Race
Third August Short Handicap Race
Second August Long Handicap
Lap speed record run
500 Mile Race
First October Long Handicap

The Golf Star Race
Bank Holiday Meeting
500 Mile Race

500 Mile Race
Second October Short Handicap
Second October Long Handicap

Second Easter Short Handicap Race
First August Long Handicap Race
Second August Long Handicap
BDRC 50 Mile Race
Dunlop Jubilee Cup Race
First October Long Handicap
Second October Long Handicap

Barnato-Hassan Bentley: previous owners

6 previous owners
1934 – Woolf Barnato
1948 – Ian Metcalfe
1950 – Gerry Crozier
1953 – C.T. (Tommy) Atkins
1953 – Clifford Keith Wain Schellenberg
2007 – Present Owner