The 75/105hp Prinz Heinrich Benz Raceabout driven by Barney Oldfield will be offered at the Bonhams Bothwell Collection auction, scheduled for Saturday, November 11, 2017 at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California.
Bonhams Co-Chairman Malcolm Barber said, “The opportunity to acquire an automobile such as this is generational.”
In 1908 the German Imperial Automobile Club staged a multi-day, multi-country reliability trial. Participating was none other than Prince A.W. Heinrich of Prussia, an ardent fan of the nascent sport of motor racing and the donor of the event’s trophy — a 30 pound silver automobile, for which the event was named in his honor.
The winner of the race was a German named Fritz Erle in a Benz 50hp motorcar. To commemorate such a significant victory, Benz & Company produced a ‘Prinz Heinrich’ model from 1908-1910. Bespoke and handbuilt, the production numbers remained low, contained various engine configurations, and were expensive. They were also technologically advanced with overhead valves and a shaft drive, among other innovations, and Prinz Heinrich cars could achieve nearly 100 mph — an astounding speed for the time.
One of these special Benzes is soon to be offered at auction by Bonhams. The 1908 75/105hp Prinz Heinrich Benz Raceabout, with engine #5691, was brought to the United States and campaigned by the “King of Speed,” or better said, “King of Publicity,” Barney Oldfield. Oldfield and the Benz ran many barnstorming events and made many promotional appearances together, particularly for Firestone Tires, and even appeared in the silent film Race For Life.
Not long afterward the car came into the collection of Lindley and Ann Bothwell who drove the Benz frequently and decided to restore the car into the two-seat raceabout configuration as it appears today. The Prinz Heinrich Benz will be one of 50 automobiles to be auctioned at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California (just north of Los Angeles), on Saturday, November 11th.
For more information, visit Bonhams.com/Bothwell.