Sir Michael Caine’s first ever car, a Rolls-Royce, has been tipped to fetch more than £150,000 at auction. The 1968 Rolls-Royce Shadow was bought by the actor when he was 35 just one year before he starred in The Italian Job. The prestigious vintage motor will go under the hammer on March 15th, the day after Sir Michael’s 90th birthday. The car features extensively in the 1969 documentary ‘Candid Caine’ and boasts a fascinating history including a 43-year ownership.
Tens of thousands have been spent by the vendor to restore the 1968 Silver Shadow Drophead Coupe to its original glory and it’s estimated at between £100,000 – £150,000 when it goes to auction at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford. Having been treated to an extensive restoration by the current owner, Caine’s former car is now refinished in its original colour of black.
The vehicle is one of just 506 Silver Shadow Two-Door Drophead Coupes that were hand built by Rolls-Royce’s in-house coachbuilder Mulliner Park Ward from 1967 – 1971.
The story goes that in 1968 Sir Michael wandered into the renowned Jack Barclay Rolls-Royce showroom on Berkeley Square in London with a handwritten shopping list which read: “milk, bread, newspaper, cigarettes, Rolls-Royce”.
Unkempt and unshaven, Caine was ushered off the premises, so he journeyed to Mayfair’s other Rolls-Royce dealership, H.A. Fox on Dover Street, where he found the Silver Shadow which had been taken into stock after the playwright and screenwriter, Terence Rattigan, cancelled his order for it.
Having bought the car, despite not having his own driving licence, the actor found it was much cheaper to employ a chauffeur than pay the premium his insurers quoted should he decide to go down the ‘L-plate’ route.
The 35-year-old actor subsequently took great pleasure in being driven past the offending Jack Barclay salesman in his new car and flicking him a V-sign.
“From its original purchase by Sir Michael, and its subsequent 43-year ownership by infamous Gasworks restauranteur, Jack Leach, the car’s history is truly captivating and one which I’m sure will delight and fascinate the new owner.”
Less than two years later, the Silver Shadow was acquired by John Leonard Ernest Leach (Jack Leach), owner of the Gasworks restaurant in Fulham, which became a notorious hotspot for the rich and famous.
A familiar sight on the Fulham and Kings roads for decades afterwards, Leach continued to own the car for the next 43-years until his death in 2013.
Mr Jones added: “Personifying cool since the swinging sixties, Caine and the Silver Shadow remain instantly recognisable and widely admired.
“So, to combine both of these in one fantastic motor car is incredibly rare indeed and we expect significant interest from fans around the world.”
The classic, collector and performance car auction takes place at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford on the 15 March, with viewing available on Tuesday 14 March. Bidding can be done in person, online or via telephone. For further information about the sale or the car, visit www.handh.co.uk.
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