Heralded Bothwell Collection going to auction with Bonhams

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1913 Peugeot raced at Indy in 1916 and 1919 and again in 1949 special event | Bonhams photos

Fifty cars from the acclaimed Bothwell Collection will be offered at auction by Bonhams in a sale to be held at the Bothwell Ranch in Woodland Hills, California, on November 11, the auction house has announced.

Several of the cars — a 1913 Indianapolis Peugeot, 1908 Prinz Heinrich Benz and 1908 Mercedes Simplex — were on display at Bonhams’ recent auction at The Quail Lodge on the Monterey Peninsula.

Lindley Bothwell was a charter member of the Horseless Carriage Club of America and with his wife, Ann, assembled what Bonhams termed “one of the largest private collections of automobiles in the country.”

“Housed at their ranch property amid manicured orange groves just over the hills from Hollywood,” the auction house added, “the Bothwell Collection is without equal.”

Lindley Bothwell, who died in 1986 at the age of 84, had a large orange-growing business, was an agricultural consultant and cattle breeder, and was credited with creating the famed student card stunts at the University of Southern California when he was a “yell leader” at the school. He also raced cars and collected racing and other vehicles.

After his death, his widow “protected, preserved and defended,” as AutoWeek put it, her husband’s car collection until her death at the age of 97 in 2016.

Bonhams notes that the 50 cars going to auction include rare pre-war racing cars, automobiles and horse-drawn streetcars.

The Bothwell’s 1913 Peugeot not only raced in the Indianapolis 500 in 1916, but decades later, Bothwell took the car back to Indianapolis to compete in a Veteran Class event, where he boosted Dario Resta’s 85-mph lap record to more than 103 mph, a Veteran record that would stand for 30 years.

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The 1913 Peugeot 4.5-Liter L45 is powered by what Bonhams termed “the father of all racing engines… it was this engine that inspired Miller, Offenhauser and a host of others.”

The Bothwells’ 1908 Prinz Heinrich Tour Benz is named for a Prussian prince and early supporter of motor racing. Benz produced a limited series of 10 factory racers named in his honor. The Bothwell car is one of the few surviving. Bonhams said.

The 1908 Mercedes Simplex 60hp is believed to have been owned originally by William K. Vanderbilt.

In addition to motorcars from the likes of Austo-Daimler, Buick, Cadillac, Ford, Hudson, National, Packard, Pope-Hartford and others, the auction will include five horse-drawn streetcars. Bothwell was a fan of such vehicles and had a mile track built on his property to give visitors rides.

Also offered in the auction will be all sorts of spare parts and items of automobilia that Bothwell collected.

“Lindley and Ann Bothwell need little introduction. Their contribution to historic motoring is renowned, their cars are legendary and, most important, their enthusiasm all encompassing,” Malcolm Barber, Bonhams chairman, said in a news release. “This is truly a monumental collection and we are extremely flattered to represent it at auction. The phrase ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ is very appropriate.”

“The sale of the sole surviving L45 Grand Prix Peugeot will be a generational opportunity to acquire a landmark car in the history of the development of racing in America and Europe,” added Rupert Banner, Bonhams vice president of motoring.

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A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.