Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin’s 4.5-liter supercharged Bentley race car sold for £4.5 million at an auction during the Goodwood Festival of Speed this past weekend. In March 1932, Birkin set a record 137.96 mph at the Brooklands track in the United Kingdom.
The 240 horsepower red racecar passed the earlier record achieved by a Bentley at auction when the Speed Six known as ‘Old No 2’ sold for £2.8 million at the Le Mans Classic in 2004.
Things are proceeding apace for Bentley, which is now owned by Volkswagen. Global sales for Q1 in 2012 increased by 47% with 1,759 cars delivered to customers, far below the more than 10,000 delivered in 2007 before the onslaught of the Great Recession.
Q1 sales were led by China, now Bentley’s largest market with 578 cars delivered. The Americas also remain a key market for Bentley with sales up of 468 cars. In the Middle East 168 cars were delivered; and European sales saw a 34.4% increase at 207. Sales in the UK and Germany remain stable, with 233 cars and 62 cars delivered respectively.
Whilst mostly living and marketing in the past, Bentley in 2003, after 73 years since Bentley’s last win at Le Mans, two Bentleys Speed 8s came in first and second at Le Mans in their class, almost 83 years after the day that the two Speed Sixes had previously won the 24 hour race.