Buy Eric Morecambe's car | (...but he did suffer a heart attack in it)

Buy Eric Morecambe's car

(...but he did suffer a heart attack in it)

The car Eric Morecambe was driving when he suffered his first heart attack is set to fetch around £100,000 when it is auctioned off next month.

Morecambe bought the Jensen Interceptor MkI Coupé in September 1968 for £4,500. At the time it was one of the most expensive sports cars in the world, roughly double the price of an E-Type Jaguar.

But just two months later he suffered a heart attack at the wheel, at the age  of just 42, while driving back from a gig at Batley variety club in Leeds with Ernie Wise

He had to flag down a passer-by to drive him to hospital, and joked that the  man, Walter Butterworth, was so impressed by the Interceptor it took him several minutes to realise who he was helping. But once the penny dropped, the Yorkshireman asked for the comedian’s autograph while he lay on a stretcher.

Now the car is to be auctioned in Birmingham by Silverstone Auctions, whose owner Nick Whale said he first became aware of it when Morecambe told the heart attack story on Michael Parkinson’s chat show in the  1970s. At the time, he recalls his late father saying: ‘That Jensen would be a good car to own one day…’

Whale tracked down the car many years later in Belgium, and brought it for £28,500 in 2014. It is one of just 923 Series I Interceptors built, and  fewer than 30 survive today.

He spent a sum ‘well into six figures’ on restoring the car, with all the work detailed on a dedicated website

Earlier this year the car was reunited with Butterworth and Eric's son Gary  as part of an  ITV documentary on Morecambe and Wise.

Whale said: ‘It's a great car to drive. We went to enormous trouble to preserve as much of the original car as possible. This specifically includes the dashboard and steering wheel as I wanted to enjoy the same special view and experience the same atmosphere in the driving seat as my all-time comedy hero. 

‘To meet the family and restore part of their history, which actually is also part of our national heritage, has been a real pleasure.’

The car has even been returned to the original registration number that Morecambe had, FJH 5G.

Also going on sale at the NEC Classic Motor Show Silverstone Auctions sale on November  11 and 12 is one of the Reliant Regal vans used in Only Fools and Horses.

The three-wheeler appeared in the 2001 Christmas Day special, If They Could See Us Now, which attracted 21million viewers

The 1968 car, was adapted for the comedy. Customisations include a tiger skin print interior, rubber mats with 'Del Boy' on the driver’s side and 'Rodney' on the passenger side, inflatable dolls fitted which show up in the back window, a suitcase on the roof, air horns… and a smoke machine which belches out plumes from the exhaust at the touch of a button.

No guide price has been given, but another Regal from the sitcom was listed for £17,500 in 2013.

And  there’s one more vehicle with a comedy link going under the hammer at the same Birmingham sale: Jimmy Tarbuck’s Volvo P1800, which has an estimate of around £16,000.

The comedian famously had the number plate ‘COM1C’ - but not on this vehicle.

More details on the auction are available here.

Published: 24 Oct 2017

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