Well, at least the money it sold for – all £7.4m of it – is heading off-shore. The car was bequeathed to the RNLI by the collector Richard Colton, who died earlier this year, and the proceeds will be used to buy new lifeboats.
The SWB was sold by H&H Auctions this week at its Duxford sale, along with another car from the Colton collection, a 275 GTB/4 that was also bequeathed to the RNLI. With the 1967 GTB making £2.1m, the total £9.5m donation is the single largest contribution to RNLI coffers ever made.
The 1960 SWB, which went to an unknown buyer for well above its £5m estimate, was owned by Richard Colton for almost 40 years during which he clocked up over 50,000 miles in it, driving it on many classic rallies throughout Europe. The second of just nine right-hand drive examples of the type imported into the UK, it was the first customer car of the then-fledgling Maranello Concessionaires, the UK Ferrari importers set up by Col Ronnie Hoare.
The car, which in 1960 cost £5,926-2s-6d after a 10 per cent discount, was ordered by a Morris dealer in Highcliffe, Hants. H&H report that the first owner was ‘taken aback by the SWB’s handbuilt nature’ and reported water leaks, defective paintwork and poorly fitting doors. In 1961 he had the car sent back to Ferrari for a respray. Under warranty, we hope!
As visitors to the Ferrari exhibition in the Earls Court Motor Show at this year’s Revival will have seen, the car is in beautiful – but definitely original – condition. In fact it has never had a major restoration, H&H saying it is ‘no concours queen’. Some of its character is down to its last owner, who decided to lose the bumpers, flare the rear wheelarches and uprate the brakes.
But as H&H says, the car is still ‘fundamentally as Ferrari built it’, and that means it is of course a true great, exquisitely proportioned and beautiful and, as a model in general, devastatingly effective in GT racing – three consecutive wins in the Tour de France between 1960-62, wins in the Tourist Trophy at Goodwood in 1960 and 1961, first in the GT category at Le Mans in 1960 and 1961, and in the Nurburgring 1000km in 1961 and 1962. And that’s just for starters.
You can see the SWB, and the 275 GTB/4, in action in this H&H promotional video:
A spokesman for the RNLI said: ‘We are deeply grateful to the Colton Family for this hugely generous gift, the single most valuable we have received. It is a wonderful legacy for the Colton family to know their sad loss will lead directly to the saving of life around Britain’s coasts.’