How two Ferraris paid for a new RNLI lifeboat

| 30 Apr 2019
Classic & Sports Car – How two Ferraris paid for a new RNLI lifeboat

Ferraris aren’t generally noted for their ability to save people from drowning, but at least one pair of Prancing Horses will now be able to do just that – albeit indirectly.

That’s because the proceeds from the sale of a 250GT and a 275GTB/4 have been used to pay for a state-of-the-art new lifeboat.

The all-weather craft was formally named last weekend in Hastings, East Sussex, along with a high-tech launch and recovery system, and the 250GT was there for the ceremony.

Classic & Sports Car – How two Ferraris paid for a new RNLI lifeboat

The story starts in March 2015, when the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) charity was left a pair of classic Ferraris in the will of longtime Ferrari Owners’ Club member and car collector Richard Colton.

Businessman Colton had owned the Ferraris for 40 years and they formed part of an impressive collection of classics, some of which he had raced and rallied in earlier life.

The two cars, a 1960 250GT Short Wheelbase Berlinetta and a 1967 275GTB/4, were expected to raise £2.5m when they went to auction with H&H Classics in October of that year, but ended up smashing their estimates, selling at the Imperial War Museum for a record-breaking £8.5m.

The 250GT SWB alone made £6.6m – a world record for a steel-bodied car – with the 275GBT/4 bringing in another £1.93m on top of that. And as a nice extra touch, H&H waived its commission and transport fees, effectively giving the charity a further £511,800.

Classic & Sports Car – How two Ferraris paid for a new RNLI lifeboat

After the sale, Simon Hope, MD of H&H Classics, said, “This has been a dream result for us. We have worked relentlessly with the RNLI over the last few months promoting the cars all over the world to ensure we honoured the memory of Richard Colton properly.”

The donation was the largest ever single gift to the charity and a plan was soon put into place to honour Colton’s wishes by using some of the funds to pay for a new Shannon class all-weather lifeboat and recovery system.

Designed in-house by RNLI naval architects, the Shannon class was introduced to the RNLI’s fleet in 2013. It’s capable of reaching 25 knots and is the first of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboats to be powered by water jets rather than traditional propellers, making it the most agile and manoeuvrable in the charity’s fleet.

Classic & Sports Car – How two Ferraris paid for a new RNLI lifeboat

The boat and its launch and recovery system were officially dedicated at Hastings Lifeboat Station on Saturday (27 April), with the former being named after Colton and his wife Caroline, and the latter named for Richard’s son Mark – a successful hillclimb driver who was killed during practice at Craigantlet in 1995.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Peter Adams said, “It is wonderful that people in the classic car world hold the RNLI in such high esteem.”

RNLI Hastings Coxswain Phil Jones added, “The naming ceremony and service of dedication is a very special day for everyone associated with the lifeboat station, and we are so grateful to the legacy of Richard Colton, for making this happen. His legacy will enable the station to carry out our lifesaving work and serve the community of Hastings. 

“Six out of 10 lifeboat launches are only made possible by legacies, large and small, left to the RNLI in people’s wills. These gifts pay for the training and equipment we as lifeboat crew rely on when we launch into the unknown, in all weathers, day or night to save others.”

Images: James Mann, KTBruce


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