A classic car once owned by Huddersfield-born actor James Mason is coming under the hammer.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SE Cabriolet owned by the Hollywood star, is to be auctioned by RM Sotheby’s on September 7 in London.
Also among the lots is a 1956 Austin Princess hearse owned by John Lennon and used by him and Yoko Ono in the 1972 film Imagine. The film was created to promote Lennon’s Capitol Records album which shared the same title.
Mason’s Mercedes-Benz is accompanied by its title document noting James Mason as a long-time owner. The car was used extensively by Mason’s family while on holidays in Switzerland and the South of France and is being offered for the first time from the Mason family estate.
James Mason, who grew up in Marsh, starred in numerous classic films during the 1960s, including North by Northwest, The Desert Fox, Lolita and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. He died in Switzerland in 1984.
A comparatively rare, low-volume production car, the elegant two-door cabriolet is expected to appeal to a serious collector and is estimated to realise between £150,000 and £200,000.
The car is the successor model to the Mercedes-Benz 220 SE Cabriolet which featured in North by Northwest as the car owned by Mason’s character the evil Phillip Vandamm. In the film, Cary Grant’s character – an inebriated Roger Thornhill – escapes from Vandamm’s Long Island mansion by stealing the car.
The 330 SE Cabriolet, featuring a 185 horsepower engine and red leather seats, was acquired by Mason from its first owner in 1966.
Lennon’s Austin Princess is complemented by its original vehicle registration/title document, signed by the singer-songwriter when he bought it on 26 August, 1971.
The car was donated to the Austin Rock and Roll Car Museum in Texas in 2008 and a portion of the proceeds from its auction will go to children’s charity UNICEF, which was a favourite cause of Lennon’s. Other charities to benefit from its sale include Make A Wish America and Dell Children’s Medical Center. The car is expected to fetch more than £250,000.
Austin Princess limousines were a popular mode of transport for The Beatles – with a number of them passing through the hands of Apple Records for use by the various band members. Lennon’s car is still fitted with the five aeroplane seats in the back that Lennon added to the Austin.
Peter Wallman, managing director of RM Europe, said: “We are honoured to have been entrusted with the sale of these two historically important cars.
“Celebrity provenance doesn’t get stronger than this and the fact that both cars are accompanied by the original, signed title documents is fantastic. They are very different cars, but each will surely find a delighted new owner at our London sale.”
RM Sotheby’s London sale is being staged in conjunction with the Royal Concours of Elegance at Windsor Castle as part of the Queen’s 90th birthday celebration.