Watchmaker's Birkin Bentley sold for £5m at auction
- 12 July 2012
- From the section Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin
A vintage car from a collection which belonged to Isle of Man watchmaker Dr George Daniels has fetched more than £5m at auction.
The "Birkin" Bentley, which went under the hammer at the Goodwood Festival of Speed became the most expensive British car ever sold at a public auction.
It was one of seven classic cars and two motorcycles owned by Dr Daniels who died in October 2011.
A Bonhams spokesman said the collection was "one of the greatest on earth."
He added: "There is an expression in the art world that is the highest accolade that anyone can give to another. To say that someone has "an eye" means that the person has the ability to detect quality, originality, value, and importance, in a work of art.
"When it comes to classic cars, George Daniels had this quality in spades."
The 1929 Birkin single-seater Bentley was described by Bonhams as the "Concorde of its time" and received its nickname after being driven by the aristocrat Sir Henry Birkin.
Dr Daniels created 37 watches over a 60-year career. Each was created by hand from raw materials - a task which could take more than 2,500 man hours to complete.
He was appointed an MBE in 1981 and CBE in 2010 for services to horology although he was as passionate about vintage cars as he was about watches.
Speaking to the BBC in January 2010, he said: "Old motor cars are every bit as interesting as old watches. We tune them up to be as sporting and speeding as they were when they were original.
"They are all quite famous in one way or another, driven by leading riders. We know the performance these cars can achieve and we get that performance out of them again - just because they are old, doesn't mean they are slow."
Dr Daniel's funeral service was held at Lezayre church in the north of the island last November.
Chief executive of Bonhams Malcolm Barber said he was asked to view the classic car collection in December.
"I knew a little of what to expect because George and I were colleagues many moons ago. We estimated the collection to be worth between six and seven million but with cars like this you just don't know.
"The Birkin is unique, there is no comparison to make - this is the only single-seater prepared by Bentley which raised the outer circuit lap record at Brooklands to 137mph."
Dr George Daniel's entire collection, including a 1954 Bentley R-Type, a Bentley Tourer and a 1907 Daimler, was sold by Bonhams for a total of almost £10m.