A late Northamptonshire businessman who was known to be ‘nervous of the sea’ has bequeathed two of the world’s most prized Ferarris to a national lifeboat charity.
Richard Colton, who was a major shoe distributor in the county as a partner of Irchester-based Colton Brothers, died at home following a sudden illness in March.
But the 83-year-old, who lived in Stanwick, requested that money raised from the sale of two extremely rare 1960s Ferarris after his death be used to build a new RNLI lifeboat called Richard and Caroline Colton, named after himself and his late wife.
The sale to be held by Wellingborough-based auctioneers H&H Classics on October 14, is expected to raise more than £10 million and could rank as the biggest gift ever given to the RNLI.
Legacy manager for the charity, Guy rose, said: “We are deeply grateful and humbled by Mr Colton’s generous gift and his decision to benefit the RNLI in this way.
“Six out of every 10 lifeboat launches are only made possible because of gifts left to us in wills, so they are vital to saving lives at sea.
“Mr Colton’s generosity will be felt most by our volunteer crews and the people whose lives they save.”
Aside form his distinguished career in footwear distribution, Mr Colton collected classic cars for around 40 years.
The first of the two vehicles to go on sale, a 1960 Ferrari 250 GT SWB, is often said to be one of the most beautiful cars ever made and was one of only 167 to come off the production line.
It is expected to raise around £8 million at the auction.
Mr Colton bought the car in the late 1970s and is believed to have driven some 60,000 miles in it, enjoying many trips to the continent.
The second car, a Ferarri 275 GTB/4 1967 could raise up to £2 million at the auction, which is set to take place at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridge.
Simon Hope, chairman of H&H Classics, said: “We are honoured to have been chosen to handle this sale which is of national significance.
“These stunning motor cars have been with Richard Colton for 40 years and meant a very great deal to him so we are absolutely committed to realising the maximum amount for the cars. It promises to be an historic sale.”
A spokesperson from the auctioneers added that close friends had described Mr Colton as “a shy and private man”, adding that he was “known to be somewhat nervous of the sea.”
Most of Mr Colton’s cars always carried a ‘touring tool kit’ of a small can of oil and enough parts and specialists tools to carry out even quite serious mechanical repairs.
Jim Kearns of Wellingborough-based Wilson Browne Solicitors acted as joint executor for the will.
He said: “The exquisite cars really were the ‘impossible gift’.
“To leave them to an individual would have incurred 40 per cent inheritance tax meaning that the cars would most likely have to be sold to pay for it.
“Leaving them to a charitable cause as noble as the RNLI means that they get the maximum value.”