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CLASSIC & SPORTS CAR OCTOBER2015

BLUE LENA! KEITH RICHARDS’ BENTLEY

The world’s best-selling classic car magazine

October 2015 £4.80

FERRARI CHARITY PAIR

FERRARI’S FINEST We drive the charity SWB and 275 that everyone’s talking about

Bentley Blue Lena,TVR Griffith, DS at 60, Corvette C3, Datsun Z cars

PLUS

Δ Datsun’s Z-car dynasty

Δ Sir Jackie Stewart on 1965 Δ Corvette C3 buyer’s guide

Δ Restoring a Formula One Williams

Fearsome TVR Griffith Blackpool’s bargain V8

The goddess turns 60 Citroën DS celebration

1000 Mile adventurers C&SC’s trial by tripmeter


Lasting legacy These two Ferraris were used and enjoyed by one man for more than 40 years, says James Page, and they’re now set to raise millions in aid of charity PHOTOGRAPHY JULIAN MACKIE


‘WE’RE ARMED WITH THE SHOOTING SCRIPT AND FORTIFIED BY VIEWINGHOOTING SCRIPT AND FORTIFIED BY VIEWINGS OF’

N

ot often do we get the chance to bring together two such special Ferraris as the 250GT SWB and 275GTB/4. They are, after all, cars that industry folk in colourful trousers would refer to as ‘blue chip’ models. These are each particularly interesting examples of the breed, too, boasting fascinating and significant histories, which makes it even more surprising that they are overshadowed by the story behind their impending no-reserve sale at auction, and that of their most recent owner. Little things give it away. Whenever you see one of these hugely valuable cars today, chances are it will be pristine and living a life of temperature-controlled luxury. Look closely, however, and the featured examples wear the occasional mismatched dab of touch-up paint, as well as a stonechip here and there. They have wellearned patina and a lived-in charisma, and there’s a very good reason for that. They’ve been used in a way of which even an old curmudgeon such as Enzo himself would have approved. Both cars belonged to the late Richard Colton. He bought the GTB/4 in 1974, before going on to cover almost 50,000 miles in it. Two 122 Classic & Sports Car October 2015

years later, he acquired the SWB, and clearly enjoyed that even more, clocking up nearly 70,000 miles. Bear in mind that, for more than 40 years, the Ferraris were part of a large and ever-changing collection of cars that Colton also liked to enjoy as much as possible. While the others came and went, however, these stayed. Consider, too, that beneath the exterior scuffs they are mechanically spot-on – as they needed to be, because they were there to be used rather than mollycoddled. The name Colton will be familiar to anyone with an interest in hillclimbing, and for many reasons. For a start, Richard himself was a keen competitor. Then he sponsored multiple British Hillclimb Champion Roy Lane via his footwear company Steel King – Lane’s Pilbeam carried on its rear wing the memorable slogan ‘Put The Boot In’. Finally, tragically, there was Richard’s only child Mark, who competed at the very top level of the discipline and was surely destined to one day win the title himself, only to be killed in a crash during practice at Craigantlet in 1995. As for the Ferraris, their stories are well known. With the SWB, Maranello struck the perfect balance between a road car and a racer. Here was a machine in which you could quite

comfortably drive to the circuit, win, and then drive home again. It did a lot of winning, too, following its introduction at the ’59 Paris Salon. During the early ’60s, it formed the benchmark in the GT category, with Stirling Moss famously taking two TT victories, among many others. The berlinetta was a favourite of the British ace. The 275GTB, meanwhile, first appeared in 1964, and if it wasn’t the racer that its predecessor was, it had by no means gone soft. This fact was underlined by the introduction in ’66 of the GTB/4, with a four-cam, dry-sump derivation of Gioacchino Colombo’s V12 engine, with six Weber carburettors as standard. Both are special enough in isolation, but seeing them together reaffirms the seductive nature of 1960s Ferraris as well as Colton’s supreme good taste. They look sublime even when standing still, but their late owner would no doubt be looking down with thunderous disapproval if we didn’t fire them up and experience just a fraction of what he did over the course of more than four decades. The SWB boasts a towering reputation as a fabulous all-rounder, and rightly so. As was fairly standard for Colton’s cars – he was, by all accounts, an inveterate tinkerer – this one has


The different profiles are clear, from the muscular 250 to sleek 275. Colton returned the latter to its original silver after it had a spell resprayed red. Below right: driving any SWB is a special moment

been tweaked, by way of being de-bumpered and given four-pot brake calipers, subtly flared rear wheelarches and an upgraded exhaust. It features the more offset driving position of the two and rolls more under hard cornering, but still feels seriously quick and is beautifully balanced. It also has a gloriously tactile gearchange that, in these examples at least, is superior to that of the 275GTB/4, which was the first Ferrari to be fitted with a transaxle. The later car does, however, feel even more urgent in a straight line, with a sense of longlegged thrust that is superseded only by the gathering crescendo from the mighty V12 – a soundtrack that it shares with its sibling. From inside the cockpit, it’s wonderful. From outside, following closely behind both cars as the occupants simultaneously open the throttles before disappearing in a cloud of dust and 24 cylinders worth of noise, it’s even better. You also have the advantage of being able to better appreciate two of Pininfarina’s finest designs, from the pugnacious, ‘all muscles and intent’ SWB to the longer, leaner, more sophisticated 275. Colton ticked a number of boxes over the course of his car-owning life – Porsche 911 2.7 Carrera RS, Jaguar E-type and XK120, and so on – but he retained a passion for the Prancing Horse. With Mark, he restored a 212 Inter that he’d discovered as a wreck, and in it the father and son team completed the Mille Miglia retrospective. That sort of project gave him an enormous amount of satisfaction. He was the kind of man who knew exactly how he wanted his cars to be, and he didn’t mind paying for it. While Colton could clearly afford to indulge in such a way, he apparently wasn’t one to throw money around. His house, for example, was a 1960s bungalow that he’d bought new and to which he’d hardly done anything since. First and foremost, he was a genuine petrolhead who would much rather invest in his cars than, for example, a new kitchen. Visiting the Colton residence would invariably involve discussing the past few Grands Prix by way of small talk. Few knew him better than Charles Denton.

Visiting the fabled Nordschleife on a European jaunt

Snow and salt weren’t enough to stop using the 250

Colton drove the GTB/4 back to its Maranello home

Highlands tour just one of many long-distance trips

FERRARI 250GT SWB

Sold/number built 1959-’63/158 (88 steel-bodied, 70 alloy) Construction steel chassis with steel or aluminium body Engine all-alloy, sohc-per-bank 2953cc 60° V12, three Weber DCL6 or DCL3 carburettors Max power 240bhp @ 7000rpm Max torque 183lb ft @ 5500rpm Transmission four-speed manual, driving rear wheels through limited-slip differential Suspension: front independent by double wishbones, coil springs, anti-roll bar rear rigid axle, semi-elliptic leaf springs, radius arms; telescopic dampers f/r Steering ZF worm and sector Brakes Dunlop discs, with Bendix servo Length 13ft 9in (4200mm) Width 5ft 8in (1720mm) Height 4ft 2in (1270mm) Wheelbase 7ft 10in (2400mm) Weight 2318-2649lb (1051-1202kg) 0-60mph 6.3 secs Top speed 144mph Mpg 14 Price new £6666 17s 2d (1961) Price now £5million-plus October 2015 Classic & Sports Car 123


From main: 250 SWB is superbly balanced and comes alive when pushed; cabin is dominated by large dials for speed and revs in twin-cowl dash; muscular rear end with cooling vents in the wings

During the 1950s, Denton’s father, Hugh, raced Morgans with Colton, and the latter would go on to become Charles’ godfather. “They were both members of Northants Sports Car Club,” recalls Denton, “and I’ve got notes from when they organised events. They even competed in the 1954 RAC Rally together. Richard hillclimbed Morgans, and my first memory was of that marque. I was into them as a boy and went to the factory in Malvern, where I met Peter Morgan. Sally [Colton’s second wife] had a Plus 8, and the first time I travelled at 100mph was alongside her.” One day, however, the young Denton went back to the Coltons’ house and had his eyes opened to more exotic machinery. “The 275 was on their driveway,” he recalls, “and Sally had to start it to move it. The noise was mesmerising. After that, I switched allegiance from Morgan and started to collect books on Ferrari. Richard helped me with that, and he and Sally took me to events. Not long after that my father told me they had a new car. We went around there and the SWB was parked rear-on in the garage. I knew exactly what it was because I was a 10-year-old geek by then!” For a young enthusiast who was rapidly falling in love with all things Maranello, being around Colton at this time was manna from heaven: “I can remember him having a 250LM that was road-registered, although he used to enter it in hillclimbs and sprints, too. Also, at one point my father wanted a Daytona and Richard had one, so we went out with me as a passenger alongside Sally in the SWB, chasing him and my father who were in the Daytona.”

A huge number of cars passed through Colton’s hands, but the 275 and SWB became old favourites. “He drove them,” says Denton, “that’s the thing. They’ve travelled Europe rather than being stuck in a museum. He said that the SWB got better the more he used it.” Colton would often remark that no amount of money would part him from the two cars – not that it stopped people trying, and a glance at their respective histories shows why. The SWB is chassis 1995GT, and was one of two cars that Colonel Ronnie Hoare secured from Enzo October 2015 Classic & Sports Car 125


From main: 275 is less overtly sporting than the SWB, but it handles well and feels quicker in a straight line; more modern dash lacks a little of the earlier car’s charisma; well-resolved Kamm tail

Ferrari in order to set up Maranello Concessionaires. It was the second right-hand-drive example, and featured a steel body but a Competizione engine, with high-lift camshafts – Colton kept them, but fitted Lusso cams for road use – raised compression ratio and uprated carburettors. It also boasts ‘Comp’ suspension. Woe betide anyone who described the car as being to Lusso specification. As well as a pile of period paperwork, including the build sheet, the history file contains a number of letters written by Colton explaining that 1995GT – like 1993GT, the first right-hand-drive SWB – may have had a steel body rather than aluminium, but in pretty much every other respect it had been supplied by the factory in Competizione spec. The 275 was also delivered new via Maranello Concessionaires. Chassis 10177 served as the firm’s demonstrator in late 1967, and was finally sold to former ERA racer TC ‘Cuth’ Harrison. It then had a busy few years during which it went to a Mr Renton, who ran a prep school in Ascot, a Mr Cook, who traded it in for a Daytona, a Mr Horne – who, according to correspondence, ‘spent a considerable amount of money on the car’ – a Mr Cooke and a Mr Curtis. Originally silver, it had at some point received a respray in red, which is how it was when Colton bought it. In 1979, he had it stripped to bare metal, all the necessary welding carried out, and the whole thing returned to its factory hue. The files for both Ferraris tell you as much about Colton as his cars. He did very well out of a Bentley Speed Six that he owned – the paperwork suggests that he got £17,250 for it in 1976, when the SWB was worth less than half that –

but then there are the MoT certificates covering each year of his ownership, plus endless photographs confirming that he would take any excuse to drive them. In each was a ‘travelling kit’ of spares – oil, belts, plugs and the like – so that they were ready to go wherever needed. The SWB, for example, is pictured all over the continent. One trip clearly involved a tour of race circuits, because it’s proudly parked at the Nürburgring and Zandvoort. Brilliantly, it’s also shown being driven in the middle of winter, on a gritted road, during a snowstorm. Then there October 2015 Classic & Sports Car 127


‘BRILLIANTLY, THE 250 SWB IS ALSO SHOWN BEING DRIVEN IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, ON A GRITTED ROAD, DURING A SNOWSTORM’

FERRARI 275GTB/4

From top: both cars use a derivation of Colombo’s V12, with three carbs for the SWB and six for the 275GTB/4; painted Borrani wires vs alloys

128 Classic & Sports Car October 2015

Sold/number built 1966-’68/c280 Construction steel chassis with steel or aluminium body Engine all-aluminium, dohc-per-bank 3285cc 60º V12, six Weber 40DCN carburettors Max power 300bhp @ 8000rpm Max torque 217lb ft @ 5500rpm Transmission five-speed transaxle, driving rear wheels Suspension independent by unequal-length wishbones, coilover dampers, anti-roll bar f/r Steering ZF worm and roller Brakes discs, with servo Length 14ft 6in (4420mm) Width 5ft 6in (1676mm) Height 4ft 2in (1270mm) Wheelbase 7ft 101/2 in (2398mm) Weight 2490lb (1129kg) 0-60mph 5.5 secs Top speed 163mph Mpg 12-15 Price new £7063 Price now £1.5million-plus


Two of the most desirable Ferrari road cars side-byside – you will just have to imagine the noise coming from the eight tailpipes. Note the long hinges on the 275, one of few clues to it being a four-cam

are evocative shots of the 275GTB/4 in the Scottish Highlands – just the car and a deserted road winding off into the distance – plus others showing Colton competing at, among other places, Prescott. His passion for the cars shines through, and obviously rubbed off on his godson. “The first Ferrari I drove was Richard’s 550,” says Denton, “and I now own a 456GT that he helped me find. I’ve had a Morgan Plus 8 since I was 21, too, and it’s all through him – it’s because of that history. I moved to the same village as him over the past five years, and as he got older he became more interested in modern cars. In his 80s, he got into Maseratis and did a few events. He was still always travelling.” Which brings us to the final chapter in the story of Richard Colton and his two prized Ferraris. Late in life, he could have sold them and found a way to spend the small fortune that would have come his way. But he didn’t. “He knew the value of these cars and was astute with money,” says Denton. “He’d never have paid current prices for the SWB! After his third wife Caroline died, he had no immediate family but they’d already sat down and decided what to do. Richard had completed an RNLI tour with Ecurie Ecosse and had immense pride

in what that charity does. So they thought: ‘What can we do to create a lasting memory?’ “I was an executor to his will, and he told me that the cars would be going to the RNLI. He hoped that it could purchase a Tamar-class lifeboat that would be named ‘Richard and Caroline Colton’. At the time, a Tamar was £2million – which is what the cars were then worth.” The only stipulation was that the Ferraris had to be offered at public auction. Colton suggested a shortlist of companies in his will, and not surprisingly they were all keen to handle the sale. In the end, the cars were placed with H&H, which will present them at its Duxford fixture in October. In fact, with the market for top-end Ferraris booming, it is hoped that with the proceeds the RNLI will be able to secure either two Shannon-class lifeboats – the Tamar having been discontinued – or one plus a very useful investment in the charity’s manufacturing facility, the All Weather Lifeboat Centre in Poole. Denton reckons that Colton would have loved the technology in the new vessels, which, along with featuring the latest onboard gizmos, are the first to be propelled by waterjets. This improves their agility and enables them to be used in shallow waters. His will be a lasting gift, too, with

each lifeboat having a 25-year lifespan, after which it can be refitted and go on for another 25. While the RNLI is set to receive the biggest windfall, other charities will benefit from the rest of Colton’s collection, which will also be sold at auction. There’s his ex-Patsy Burt fixed-head XK120, which was bought as a wreck, modified and restored; a Brian Wingfield-built Lightweight E-type recreation, made especially for Colton for fast road and rally use; a 28,000-mile Ferrari 550 Maranello; a Mercedes C43 AMG; a Maserati Ghibli and a 2007 Aston Vantage. “What a wonderful legacy,” reflects Denton. “He was shy, and not easy to get a conversation going with, but he was a genuine person, and with this he’s done the right thing. Richard was a true godfather to me – my father died in 1979 – and while the Ferraris gave good memories and great drives, most importantly in your hour of need he was there. He’s trusted me to do this. It’s my way of paying him back and saying thank you for such wonderful times.” Thanks to Damian Jones at H&H: 01925 210035, www.classic-auctions.com; John Sykes at TR Bitz for looking after the cars and providing the location: 01925 756000, www.trbitz.com October 2015 Classic & Sports Car 129

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