Alfred Marples not only gave England its motorways — and, reportedly, double-yellow lines and traffic wardens — but also plenty about which to gossip in his years as Transport Minister.
He became so disliked that “Marples Must Go” signs were painted across motorway bridges. He finally left the country, though not because of his shenanigans, which reportedly included regular visits with prostitutes, but because of tax evasion.
Later this month, Marples custom-built 1964 Mini Cooper S will be offered for sale at H&H Classics’ auction at Britain’s Imperial War Museum. The car is expected to fetch £70,000 to £80,000 ($90,000 to $104,000), and to provide its new owner with an amazing tale to share.
According to H&H’s news release, Marples was a Conservative politician who served from 1959 to 1964, first as Postmaster General and then as Minister of Transport. As the head of transportation, he oversaw British railways and also launched the country’s motorway (think Interstate highway) system. However, he also was the primary owner of Ridgway and Partners, the civil engineering company that was profiting from building those highways.
Because of his powerful role, he was able to demand that Austin build him a special three-door hatchback designed so he could carry either his golf clubs or the boxes of wine he liked to bring home from France. As it turned out, the Austin Experimental Department already had done three hatchback conversions, one of which was sold to the minister and, as it turns out, the only one of the three still surviving, according to H&H Classics.
“This is not just another Mini,” said Damian Jones, head of sales for H&H Classics. “It is history on four wheels.
“Its former owner, Transport Minister Ernest Marples changed the face of Britain with housing, bridges and motorways. He was a very ‘colourful character’ to say the least. It is fascinating that he chose to buy and use this relatively modest car when going golfing or going to France on holiday. If this car could speak, what tales might it not tell? It is truly one of a kind.”