Thu Jan 09 2014 01:38:32 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Cars played a major role in the life of Peter Sellers. Classic Driver takes a look into his garage – with the help of the man who managed his collection while the limelight shone brightest…
That man is Richard Williams, who subsequently set up Classic Driver dealer R.S. Williams. “I got to know Peter when I was doing my Aston apprenticeship at Feltham; I then finished my apprenticeship at Newport Pagnell and was offered a job looking after his cars,” says Richard.
Being a celebrity in the 60s, it’s little surprise that Sellers had a thing for Ferraris. Among his collection was a 500 Superfast, a 275 GTB and a 250 GT/E, the latter making a cameo appearance in ‘The Wrong Arm of the Law’ – a film which saw another of Sellers’ cars, an Aston Martin DB4 GT, put to work as a getaway vehicle.
Sellers also had a taste for Bentleys and Rolls-Royces, owning a Park Ward S1 Continental, a ‘Chinese Eye’ S3 and several Silver Clouds. But his love for traditional British machinery didn’t end there: “Peter was a huge Bristol fan, and also had several Radford Minis,” says Williams. In fact, some credit Sellers with creating the market for customised Minis, having commissioned Hooper to build him a bespoke version in 1963 – the final cost amounting to almost four times that of the standard car.
“It’s pretty strange that out of all these cars, a 1930 Austin nicknamed ‘Old Min’ was his favourite,” says Richard. “He called me one day to ask me to deliver Old Min to Spike Milligan’s house as a present – the two were great friends. About a week later, he called me again: ‘I want you to collect Old Min from Spike’s house, I’m having it back. He’s left it out in the rain, and replaced the temperature gauge [mounted where a Spirit of Ecstasy would usually sit] with a coffee percolator’.
Williams has less fond memories of Peter’s Riva Junior boat: “I was flung off it in the bay of St Tropez,” he remembers. “It had just been put on the water, and his chauffeur was moving it clear of the mooring. Seeing me standing up, Peter took the controls and opened the throttle.” Peter was known for his pranks, having previously asked Spike Milligan to climb into the boot of his 500 Superfast with a torch to look for a non-existent squeak – perhaps as payback for the mistreatment of ‘Old Min’.
The Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Styled by Luigi Segre of Ghia, with bodywork by the German coach-builder Karmann, it was produced between 1955–1974 and proved very popular selling over 440,000 cars during its 19 year run.
Selling Steel with Style: This handsome 1935 Buick was photographed on an apparently rainy April 3, 1935 for a dealer in the San Francisco Bay area. See the rest of the series and over 40 pages of photos of women and cars @
Tue Jun 04 2013 01:14:53 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este 2013: The event was held on May 24-26 on the grounds of the Grand Hotel Villa d’Este and the neighboring Villa Erba on Lake Como, in Cernobbio, Italy. The world-class concours is among the most important of all historic motorcar events worldwide. This 2012 Pebble Beach “Best of Show” winning 1928 Mercedes-Benz 680S Torpedo Roadster took a best in class award. See it and many more Pavel Novitski images @
Tue Jan 15 2013 17:39:55 GMT+0000 (Coordinated Universal Time)
Retromobile the celebration of the automobile in Paris, France, is coming up soon on February the 6th.-10th. Every effort is made by the organizers to to put on an interesting and educational expo every year. This year one of the exhibits will be the Helica designed by Marcel Leyat, a favorite curiosity of ours.
Retromobile has the following to say above the interesting vehicles: This bizarre machine, christened Hélica, was designed a century ago by Marcel Leyat. It’s a hybrid vehicle halfway between a plane and a car.
The design of this strange vehicle went against all the principles of auto construction at the time, because Hélica didn’t have a gearbox, a driving system, or a drive wheel! This revolutionary prop-driven car was very light, simple, cheap to run, and fast.
Its performance was amazing: it could do over 60 mph and weighed less than 300 kilos with two passengers.
In 1927, a Hélica with low-slung bodywork achieved speeds of 106 mph on the Montlhéry circuit.
Marcel Leyat was an extraordinary man, an engineer with a philosophical bent who had a very varied career, working for example on prototype planes and patenting a revolutionary method for learning musical scales! He built 23 Hélica’s between 1913 and 1926.
In addition to the Helica, Retromobile will as always have a very entertaining display of antique and vintage cars, with many other things to see and do all, of which you can learn more about at en.retromobile.com
The amazing machine seen here in the colored photos, will be at Retromobile and is from the Jean-François Bouzanquet family in France, where it has been since new. You can see many more photos of this car and other Helica machines and learn more about them at www.helica.info. The black and white photos above, of a Helica at the Eiffel Tower are courtesy of Isabelle Bracquemond, secretary of the French Indian Motorcycle Club.