Brooklands leads appeal to keep £5m 'Birkin' Bentley

Sir Henry Birkin in an Alpha Romeo
Image caption Sir Henry Birkin raced at Brooklands regularly in the 1920s and early 30s

A Surrey museum is leading an appeal for more than £5m to keep a Bentley driven by a pioneering racing driver in the UK.

The "Birkin" Bentley was the most expensive British car sold at a public auction when it went under the hammer for £5.15m at Goodwood in 2012.

An export ban was placed on the 1929 car by the UK government last month.

Now Brooklands Museum has agreed to co-ordinate attempts to raise £5.15m to purchase it for the nation.

The museum is at the site of Britain's first motor racing course, constructed in 1907.

The Bentley twice held the lap record for the outer circuit of the course.

'Dashing star'

The 1929 car was developed and driven by Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin using a family fortune made from Nottingham's lace-making industry.

"He was such a dashing star of British motorsport at the time," said Mick Walsh, editor-in-chief of Classic and Sports Car magazine.

"The speed heroes were the rock stars and the sporting legends of the 1920s and he was probably one of the most glamorous."

Image caption The 1929 "Birkin" Bentley twice set the lap record for the outer circuit at Brooklands

Mr Walsh said the Birkin Bentley was very important in British motorsport history.

"It is one of an elite group of magnificent titan racing cars that were the stars of Brooklands," he said.

The museum in Weybridge is the custodian of many historic cars, motorcycles and aircraft including Concorde G-BBDG.

"The opportunity has now arisen to keep the car here and it is only right that we at Brooklands should play a leading role in a concerted attempt to make that happen," said museum director Allan Winn.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has deferred a decision on the export licence for the Bentley until 31 October, but may extend it until next May.

The vehicle was one of seven classic cars and motorcycles which belonged to Isle of Man watchmaker Dr George Daniels, who died in 2011.

It was sold at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in West Sussex to an anonymous bidder from outside the UK.

Mr Winn has appealed to anyone interested in supporting the bid for the car to contact Brooklands.

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