Film legend Sir Michael Caine’s first ever car, a 1968 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Drophead Coupe with a fascinating history, is being auctioned on March 15 at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford.
One of just 506 Silver Shadow Two-Door Drophead Coupes that were hand built by Rolls-Royce’s in-house coachbuilder Mulliner Park Ward from 1967–1971, the car is estimated at between £100,000-£150,000 in the auction hosted by H&H Classics.
The story goes that actor wandered into the Jack Barclay showroom on Berkeley Square, with a handwritten shopping list which read, “milk, bread, newspaper, cigarettes, Rolls-Royce.”
Unkempt and unshaven, he was ushered off the premises, so he popped over to Mayfair’s other Rolls-Royce dealership, H.A. Fox on Dover Street, where he found the Silver Shadow which had been taken into stock after the playwright and screenwriter, Terence Rattigan, cancelled his order for it.
Having bought the car, despite not having his own driving licence, the Italian Job star found it was much cheaper to employ a chauffeur than pay the premium his insurers quoted should he decide to go down the ‘L-plate’ route.
He subsequently took great pleasure in being driven past the offending Jack Barclay salesman in his new car and flicking him a V-sign.
The car went on to feature extensively in the 1969 documentary, Candid Caine.
Less than two years later, the Silver Shadow was acquired by John Leonard Ernest Leach (Jack Leach), owner of the Gasworks restaurant in Fulham, which became a notorious hotspot for the rich and famous.
A familiar sight on the Fulham and Kings roads for decades afterwards, Leach continued to own the car for the next 43 years until his death in 2013.
The car has been treated to an extensive restoration by its current owner and is now refinished in its original colour of black, and it will go under the hammer the day after Caine’s 90th birthday.