Called “Old Min” after one of their Goon Show characters, a 1930 Austin Heavy Twelve open tourer deluxe formerly owned by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan is on the docket for the next Bonhams MPH collector car auction, scheduled for May 22 at Bicester Heritage in England.
Milligan acquired the car in the 1950s when he and Sellers were part of the cast of the Goon Show radio program. The car became nicknamed “Old Min” after Minnie Bannister, an elderly spinster portrayed by Milligan.
Sellers took ownership of the car in 1968 when Milligan lost his driver’s license.
“The Austin was looked after by Richard Williams, the world-renowned Aston Martin specialist who effectively became the actor’s fleet manager, along with his other more exotic motor cars,” Bonhams reports.
“Sellers kept the car until his death in 1980, apart from a brief episode in 1979 when he gave it back to Milligan. However, almost immediately, Sellers reclaimed the car as he felt his friend was not caring for it properly.”
“It’s pretty strange that out of all these cars, ‘Old Min’ was his favorite,” Williams told Bonhams. “He called me one day to ask me to deliver the car to Spike Milligan’s house as a present – the two were great friends. About a week later, he called me again: ‘I want you to collect ‘Old Min’ from Spike’s house, I’m having it back. He’s left it out in the rain and replaced the temperature gauge [mounted on top of the grille] with a coffee percolator’.”
Bonhams reports that Williams was reunited with the car several years later when he became acquainted with a subsequent owner. Williams purchased the Austin in 2010 and put it through a 3-year restoration.
“The 1,861cc engine, good for a top cruising speed of 45 mph, was rebuilt by Vintage-era Austin specialist Bob James,” Bonhams reports. “Used sparingly since, the Austin is offered in fully operational condition with an extensive history file including old photographs with its famous owners and an original handbook inscribed ‘Property of Spike Milligan – please return’.”
The car is offered at no reserve. Bonhams expects it to sell for £25,000 to £35,000 ($34,365 to $48,105).
For more information, visit the Bonhams MPH auction website.