Ralph Lauren Car Collection
Ralph Lauren Car Collection

Ralph Lauren Car Collection – Photo Gallery

The Ralph Lauren Car Collection was featured at the 2014 Lime Rock Historic Festival, held August 29th to September 1st at Lime Rock Park. Among the Lauren automotive treasures on display at the picturesque road course in Connecticut were a 1929 Birkin Blower Bentley; 1964 Ferrari 250 LM; 1956 Jaguar XKSS; 1953 Morgan Flat Rad and 1959 Porsche RSK.

1929 Birkin Blower Bentley, chassis HR 3976

The concept of the 4 1/2 Liter, supercharged Bentleys (The Blower Cars) originated with Sir Henry “Tim” Birkin, privileged son of a wealthy family whose resources allowed him to pursue his ambition of becoming a race car driver. Birkin developed a friendship with W.O. Bentley and given Birkin’s connections, Bentley realized that Birkin could help the struggling car maker (which was going bankrupt) to win important races.

Birkin knew he would need a lot of power to compete with the supercharged Mercedes, Alfa and Bugatti racing cars of the time and came up with the idea of supercharging the then-fastest 4 1/2 Liter Bentleys. Bentley, though skeptical, conceded and built 50 supercharged cars to qualify for the 1929 Le Mans 24 Hour race. Birkin built two “works cars,” but neither finished. (A “Speed Six” Bentley placed first, followed by 4 1/2 Liter, non-supercharged Bentleys placing second, third and fourth).

1929 Birkin Blower Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas owned by Ralph Lauren
1929 Birkin Blower Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas owned by Ralph Lauren

With his money running low, Birkin convinced friend, noted socialite and horsewoman Dorothy Paget to help finance his team. Entering Le Mans again in 1930 with two Bentleys (#8 and #9) including chassis HR3976, which carries the Paget crest between the radiator cap and the Bentley badge, the Birkin cars did very well – while they lasted (the fastest race-lap, 6 minutes 48 seconds, was set by the 9 car). Birkin’s cars again failed to finish; HR3976, driven by Dr. Dudley Benjafield and Giulio Ramponi, completed 144 laps before it broke a piston.

This car’s best finish was a second at the 1930 French Grand Prix (Pau) at the hands of Birkin. By the end of 1930 Paget’s patience with the Birkin team ran out; she cut off funding and the team closed up shop. HR 3976 was then sold to a Frenchman, racing at Le Mans in 1932 and 1933, again failing to finish either. This car was restored in 1990 by Traction Seabert of England with care given to not over-restore it but rather to maintain it in its ‘as raced’ condition. It is one of only two “short chassis” Bentleys built.

1929 Birkin Blower Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas owned by Ralph Lauren
1929 Birkin Blower Bentley 4.5-Litre Vanden Plas owned by Ralph Lauren

1964 Ferrari 250 LM, chassis 6321

The Ferrari 250 LM was introduced at the Paris Auto Show in October, 1963 to great fanfare. In the LM, Pinninfarina presented a great case-study in how form following function can be beautiful. Unable to obtain the necessary homologation for GT racing, the 250 LM raced in the prototype category; a 250 LM won Le Mans in 1965.

Between 1965 and 1968, chassis 6321 – number 31 of 32 built – was campaigned extensively and successfully in 19 Australian racing events, winning 13. Among those victories was the Surfers Paradise 12 Hours in 1966, co-driven by Andy Buchanan and a young driver just beginning a brilliant career, Jackie Stewart.

1964 Ferrari 250 LM owned by Ralph Lauren
1964 Ferrari 250 LM owned by Ralph Lauren
1964 Ferrari 250 LM
1964 Ferrari 250 LM owned by Ralph Lauren

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Show Comments (6)

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  1. Tomato red is the wrong color for the Ferrari, and there’s something a little bit off about the silver on the XKSS.
    Great cars, of course, and only a very small part of a brilliantly focused and rigorously selected collection.

  2. before retirement going back to France, I was the Lucky candidate who maintained these cars, that was before Ralph Lauren built his new museum , most of those cvars were staitioned in Montauk log Island, I had the great pleasure to drive them all, after careful check up
    as a matter of facts, I drove sir Michael hay around in the Bentley, for his book on “Blower Bentleys”, he even showed me the repair to the frame after the Le Mans Crash! He loved the ride, I could drive that car so well!
    Great souvenirs
    question, if you allow me , how could I post pictures on your site?

  3. I also thought the silver on the XKSS a bit too shiny, but what a piffling thing to think about such a beautiful car. The LM really looked so beautiful, so elegant, at speed back in the day. Somebody entered one in the “Daytona Continental” of 1967 (a privateer car, I think). That year was “supposed” to be Ford’s year for a big win a plethora of GT 40s. Surprise! At the end of the day, three Ferraris crossed the finish line in formation, one, two, three, with two Porsches tucked in behind them.

  4. All truly beautiful cars and extremely fine examples also. Does anyone know how I could get in touch with Ralph Lauren regarding his 250LM chassis #6321. I have the original Ferrari factory build certificate for this car, also 9 other Australian delivered Ferraris from the 60’s including the green 250LM #6167. Contact me at [email protected]