pounds 2m price tag on the classic bike that killed a legend Freewheeli ng opportunity to hit the road on a legend

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The motorcycle on which Lawrence of Arabia met his death is to be auctioned for pounds 2m.

The legendary author, explorer and anthropologist was thrown over the handlebars of the classic Brough Superior bike in May 1935 as he tried to avoid two boys on bicycles. He died six days after crashing from the 1,000cc machine.

T E Lawrence won literary acclaim for his book The Seven Pillars of Wisdom, which tells the story of his experiences in Arabia, where he served with Arab troops in the First World War and led them against Germany's Turkish allies. The writer was a great fan of Brough motorcycles and owned seven of them.

After Lawrence's death, the machine was repaired by the manufacturers, although some of the damage from the fateful crash is still visible. The bike has been owned by an anonymous enthusiast from southern England for the past 20 years but is now for sale.

John Truss, who is acting as agent for the auction, said: "I have already turned down an offer of pounds 1.5m from an American collector. This is, after all, the world's most famous and romantic motorbike."

The auction is likely to build on the interest generated in Lawrence's life by a series of recent discoveries. Last year, an early manuscript of The Seven Pillars was found in Chichester, while letters uncovered in 1996 gave rise to suggestions that Lawrence may have had suicidal moods. In 1995 Sotheby's sold a tattered cloak worn by Lawrence in the desert, and experts say that the Brough (worth an estimated pounds 50,000 without accompanying history) might well fetch the asking price because of its link with Lawrence.