Culture Minister Ed Vaizey took the decision to defer granting an export licence for the racing car following a recommendation by the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA), administered by Arts Council England, on the grounds that it was of outstanding significance for the study of motor racing and automobile technology in the first half of the twentieth century.
The car, known affectionately as a “Bentley Blower”, was originally designed, owned and raced by Sir Henry Birkin, one of the most effusive figures in British racing who enjoyed a super-star status comparable to that of some modern-day Formula 1 drivers’.
Made primarily of steel, aluminium and wood, it was one of the first super charged Bentleys. In the early 1930s, Birkin and the Single-Seater were the darlings of Brooklands, widely regarded as the heart of the pre-war motor racing scene in the UK, and the car still holds the record for the fastest of all production-based racers at that track.
Following the tragic death of Birkin in 1933, the Single-Seater was converted into a two-seater roadster, however a subsequent owner, “Rusty Russ-Turner” reunited the original body and chassis 25 years later, returning the car to Birkin’s Brooklands trim and securing its long term preservation in pre-war form.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey said:
“It would be a tremendous loss to the nation if this wonderful car, that so beautifully epitomises the passion and glamour of motor racing in 1930s Britain, were to be exported overseas. I hope that a UK buyer can be found in the time now available so we can keep this magnificent piece of British racing history in the UK.”
The decision on the export licence application for the car will be deferred for a period ending on 31 October 2013 inclusive. This period may be extended until 31 May 2014 inclusive if a serious intention to raise funds to purchase the car is made at the recommended price of £5,149,800.
Notes to editors
1. Organisations or individuals interested in purchasing the car should contact RCEWA on 0845 300 6200.
2. The Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest is an independent body, serviced by Arts Council England, which advises the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport on whether a cultural object, intended for export, is of national importance under specified criteria.
3. Arts Council England champions, develops and invests in artistic and cultural experiences that enrich people’s lives. Between 2010 and 2015, it will invest £1.9 billion of public money from government and an estimated £1.1 billion from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country. www.artscouncil.org.uk