A CAR with a tragic past goes up for auction in London tomorrow and is expected to sell for more than £500,000.
The 1929 Alfa Romeo 6C 1750 SS four-seater tourer belonged to Leonard Headlam, second son of William Aaron Headlam - the owner of ship building company Headlam & Sons S.S. Co. Ltd.
Leonard, who studied at Whitby County School and subsequently Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, was a keen racing driver and in his first race in 1929, a six-hour endurance race at Brooklands, he won the two-litre class in his Alfa, accompanied by his younger brother William.
And later that year, in the Ulster Tourist Trophy Race on the Ards circuit, he again finished first in class.
His last race in the car - which is going under the hammer in the Goodwood Revival Sale for Bonhams - was the 500 mile race at Brooklands where he finished a creditable fourth place, clocking an average speed of a whisker under 97mph.
However, on Tuesday 18 March 1930, tragedy awaited just a few miles outside Whitby as Leonard and his mechanic, Robert Wheatley, headed to Brooklands for another race.
Having left the family home where he lived with his parents in Stakesby Road - the family later moving to Raithwaite Hall - they reached the top of Blue Bank in the Alfa Romeo but less than half a mile into the straight road over the moors, the car left the road in slippery conditions.
Evidence at the inquest at the time which appeared in the Whitby Gazette said the car had got too near to the left hand verge and struck a heap of road chippings.
And with a two foot drop to the side of the road, the car flipped over and landed on top of Leonard who died at the scene while Mr Wheatley was lucky to escape.
At his inquest the jury found “he died from injuries sustained in the accidentqal upsetting of a motor-car which he was driving”.
Leonard, aged only 26 at the time of the accident, was a managing director (with his father) and co-secretary of the Rowland and Marwood Steamship Company, as well as a manager of Headlam and Sons with his father William Aaron and younger brother William.
Also a member of Whitby Rotary Club, his funeral was held at a packed St Hilda’s Church in Whitby with people standing at the north and south doors.
It was made all the more poignant as the service was in the church with a memorial organ dedicated to his brother Lt John Headlam, of the RAF, who was killed in France, just five months before the signing of the armistice in the First World War.
With little damage to Leonard’s car, it was sold just over a year after the accicent – there had been an asking price of £925 when it was advertised in Motor Sport magazine.
Between 2005 and 2007 it was restored to the tune of £60,000 and auctioneers have estimated the car, which is not owned locally and bears the original registration VN 397, will sell for between £500,000 and £700,000 when the hammer falls tomorrow.