Passion

Ferrari classics saving seafarers

Ferrari classics saving seafarers

The astonishing generosity of a Ferrari owner leaves a life-saving legacy
Words

Richard Aucock

Ferrari has won a place in the hearts of a coastal community in England, after an enormously generous gesture by one of the UK's leading Ferrari collectors. Richard Colton – former President of the Ferrari Owners Club Great Britain – left two rare classic Ferrari to the RNLI, the country's much-admired sea rescue service, when he died in 2015 at the age of 82. His beloved red Ferrari 250 GT SWB, dating from 1960, and his elegant 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 in silver – raised an astonishing £6.6 million and £1.93 million, respectively, at auction.

The 250 GT SWB is widely regarded as one of the world's most beautiful automobiles, with this particular car being one of only ten such specimens to have arrived new in the UK. For its part, the 275 GTB/4 is considered one of the best ever grand tourer, and is often associated with its most famous owner, Hollywood icon Steve McQueen. Richard Colton had had the two models restored and had enjoyed driving them around Europe. The huge Colton donation has permitted the Royal National Lifeboat Institute to obtain a brand new high-tech Shannon Class rescue lifeboat.

Crowds gathered to see how this beautiful Ferrari 250 GT SWB was turned into a lifeboat!  <em>Photo: RNLI</em>
Crowds gathered to see how this beautiful Ferrari 250 GT SWB was turned into a lifeboat! Photo: RNLI

The state-of-the-art all-weather 25-knot vessel, powered by water jets rather than traditional propellers, is already operating out of the historic port of Hastings, in Kent. The RNLI is a voluntary organisation that has for decades put to sea in all weather conditions around Britain's notoriously treacherous coastline to rescue seafarers in distress, ranging from deep sea trawlermen off the coast of Scotland, to exhausted surfers swept out to sea off Cornwall.

It is regarded with great admiration and affection by British people, who are used to seeing volunteers shaking collection buckets outside supermarkets and at well-attended sporting events. So the Colton Ferrari donation has by a large margin set a record for RNLI donations. To mark its gratitude, Hastings RNLI has named the vessel the 'Richard and Caroline Colton', in honour of the Ferrarista and his wife. The new lifeboat's launch and recovery rig will also be named after Richard, who had been a long-time supporter of the charity, and his late son, Mark.

 

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