After more than half a century, the "Blower" Bentley Le Mans of Charles R.J. Noble comes to market

One of only three production Supercharged Bentleys with original Le Mans-spec chassis, this "rarity among rarities" is to be offered at Quail Lodge

San Francisco – Bonhams proudly announces that it has been selected to auction one of the greatest vintage supercharged Bentleys in existence at its annual Quail Lodge auction in Carmel.

Conceived by passionate racer and "Bentley Boy" Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin, his desire to create a more successful racing Bentley by supercharging the existing 4½ liter model flew in the face of company owner W.O. Bentley, but was endorsed by its larger-than-life backer Woolf Barnato. To enable homologation of Birkin's cars, 50 production examples were built by Bentley Motors. The resulting "Blower" Bentley, as it's referred to, has become the most fabled and emulated automobile of its time.

This car has been owned by arch Bentley enthusiast and British ex-patriot Charles R.J. Noble and, subsequently, his family for more than 55 years. Noble's keen passion for Bentleys – stemming from his childhood in London as he watched the Bentleys return from Le Mans – would lead to the acquisition of a trio of ex-Bentley Boy-owned cars and no fewer than four of these coveted superchargers – an achievement unmatched by any other collector to date.

Within five years from new, the 1931 motorcar emigrated to North America and has remained on this continent ever since. In 1938 it received its only restoration and was updated with a Brooklands-style two-seater racing body with external exhaust. After is was acquired by Noble, it became the car he campaigned the most and he would regularly drive it from New York City to Long Island's Bridgehampton Race Circuit, race, win, and return home in it with honors that included the prestigious 1967 Vanderbilt Cup.

Today, the car is described by the foremost expert on vintage Bentley production, Dr. Clare Hay, as a "rarity among rarities" since this is one of only three of those 50 cars that were supplied as Le Mans specification chassis.

Always coveted and frequently copied, the Blower Bentley holds its place in history as a true automotive icon, and this incredibly rare and highly original survivor is one of the best in existence.

Bonhams, the world record holder for any Bentley sold at auction*, will offer this incomparable sports racer on Friday, August 16th at its highly anticipated Quail Lodge Auction in Carmel, California. Interested buyers may learn more about this auction, purchase a catalog, and register to bid by visiting bonhams.com/quail.

  • Bonhams sold the ex-Sir Henry "Tim" Birkin, Hon. Dorothy Paget-owned, Brooklands Outer Circuit Lap Record Breaking 1929-31 4½-Liter Supercharged "Blower" Bentley Single-Seater from the famed George Daniels Collection for $7.87-million at its Goodwood Festival of Speed Auction last July, 2012.

NOTES FOR EDITORS

Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com

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