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Stars and their cars: Eric MorecambeBack

It was the car comedy legend Eric Morecambe bought as he was starting on his meteoric path to superstardom.

It was also famous as the vehicle in which he had his first heart attack and was rescued by Yorkshireman Walter Butterworth.

Now, the lovingly restored 1968 Jenson Interceptor is set to fetch £90,000-£110,000 when it is sold at auction next month.

This is the first time the famous Jensen has been offered for public sale since its restoration.

It was bought by Morecambe – half of the Morecambe and Wise duo –  in 1968. Costing double that of a Jaguar E-Type and more than the equivalent Aston Martin, the Interceptor was one of the most expensive cars in the world at the time.

After Morecambe’s first heart attack just two months later, the Jensen became famous in its own right as the comedian recounted the story of how Yorkshireman Walter Butterworth jumped into the driving seat late one evening to drive him to Leeds Infirmary, saving his life.

It was during a television interview with Michael Parkinson in 1973 when Eric was telling the story of his rescue in the Jensen that the current owner, a then young Nick Whale, heard his father note: “That Jensen would be a great car to own one day.”

Mr Whale’s father sadly passed away while he was still young, but his words prompted a decades-long search for the car that once belonged to his comedy hero. Mr Whale, who is now managing director of Silverstone Auctions, would often scour classified ads and make frequent enquiries until he finally tracked down the famous Jensen to a garage in Belgium in 2014.

“It was in a rather sad state when I found it, so we embarked on a two year restoration with one of the world’s leading Jensen restorers, Cropredy Bridge Garage,” he said. “I wanted it to be thorough yet totally original. I wanted it to be exactly the way it was when Eric Morecambe was driving it.”

When the six-figure restoration was completed, Mr Whale arranged for the Jensen to be re-united with Morecambe’s loyal chauffeur Mike Fountain, his son Gary, and live-saver Walter Butterworth as part of an ITV documentary on Morecambe and Wise.

“I’m so very reluctant to say goodbye to the Jensen,” Mr Whale admitted. “I’m very emotionally attached to it and it took such a long time and a lot of money to find and restore it. However, since the restoration, I’ve only managed a few miles in it and it just doesn’t make any sense to keep it locked up in a garage when I don’t have the time to enjoy it. But I’m very proud of what we achieved with it.”

With matching chassis and engine numbers, the original number plate as owned by Eric Morecambe, and as one of less than 30 Mk1 Jensen Interceptors left in existence, the Crystal Blue car is rare and collectable in its own right.

The car will be offered for auction by Silverstone Auctions at the Lancaster Insurance Classic Motor Show auction, to be held at the NEC, Birmingham, on November 11 and 12.

Posted by Beth Rose on 03/11/2017