Sixth-costliest car: 1929 Bentley 4.5-liter "Blower" Single-Seater
Winning bid: $8.2 million
This vehicle sold last summer for what's believed to be the highest auction price ever for a British-built car.
Bentley custom-made the racer in 1929 for Sir Henry "Tiger Tim" Birkin, who drove it at Le Mans, Brooklands and the French Grand Prix in the late 1920s and early 1930s./p>Birkin was one of a group of wealthy racers known as the "Bentley Boys" because they favored the British brand. ("Tiger Tim" should have stuck to Bentleys. He died in 1933 at age 36 after badly burning his arm racing a Maserati.) His vehicle got top dollar partly because of its rare equipment mix -- a single seat (cars of this type usually had four) and what's apparently the first supercharged engine ever installed on a Bentley. Birkin push the car to 137.96 mph during a 1932 Brooklands meet -- a single-lap record at the time for the competition's Outer Circuit course. Bonhams CEO Malcolm Barber says the vehicle's careful preservation added to its value. "The people who owned this car [after Birkin's death] really kept it as it was, in sort of a time warp of history from the days when it raced," he says. "All too often, cars such as this will lose their character over the years." Alas, the car's new owner will need plenty of money for gas. The model gets only around 2 miles per gallon.
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