The late George Daniels was renowned as a master watchmaker, but his reputation as a vintage car collector was also substantial. Next month Bonhams will sell eight cars and two motorcycles from his collection at its Goodwood auction. The jewel of the group is a 1929-32 Bentley 4 ½-litre supercharged single-seater Bentley, once owned by former Le Mans champion Sir Henry ‘Tim’ Birkin. If, as expected, it sells for $6.3m, the car will become the most expensive Bentley ever sold.
Driving this car in 1931, Birkin set the Brooklands outer circuit lap record with a speed of 131mph. Daniels’ collection includes another car once owned by Birkin, a 1932 Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Long Chassis Touring Spyder. The car raced at Le Mans in 1932, but it has another unusual claim to fame, having been owned by Mussolini’s Air Force Marshall Italo Balbo, who was known to give speeches from its hood. In a notorious 1933 escapade, Balbo led a covey of 24 flying boats on a round-trip flight from Rome to the Century of Progress show in Chicago. In all, the Daniels collection is expected to raise $12.4m.