Fred Astaire's Rolls-Royce owned by Yorkshire businessman to be auctioned off

You might imagine that having a car owned by one of the biggest film stars of all time would be a big deal.

Fred Astaire, a legendary dancer, singer, actor and choreographer, kept the car for a few years in America before selling it on.

The car was later used by gangsters to transport illicit alcohol by the so-called bootleggers. Now it is being put up for auction by its current owner, Yorkshire businessman Guy Hawkyard.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Auctioneer Derek Mathewson, whose business is based in Pickering, North Yorkshire, says it is an exciting model.

Fred Astaire's Rolls-Royce is going up for auction this weekendFred Astaire's Rolls-Royce is going up for auction this weekend
Fred Astaire's Rolls-Royce is going up for auction this weekend

“It’s interesting that it was owned by Fred Astaire but I don’t think it will make much of a difference to the sale price,” he said. “Many of the potential buyers won’t have even heard of him. But the car is very interesting in its own right.

“It was obviously built in England as a saloon but then exported to America where it had a new body, in effect a convertible style.

“It certainly has an American look about it. The vendor is from Yorkshire. The first thing he told me was that it’s a Rolls-Royce. The second thing he said was that Fred Astaire owned it.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But to me that’s not really important in terms of the sale. People with money to spend on cars go for something from their youth which these days tends to mean the 1970s or 1980s.”

Astaire, who died in 1987, is widely regarded as the "greatest popular-music dancer of all time".

The car is believed to have been later used by bootleggers when alcohol was banned in America during the Prohibition era from 1920 to 1933. Gangs used the car to smuggle alcohol around the country.

The car – due to be sold at Matthewsons tomorrow will an estimate of £50,000 to £55,000 - will feature in a new series of Bangers and Cash on Yesterday and UKTV.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Its owner, Mr Hawkyard, a York property developer, said: “I have enjoyed owning the car but it isn’t my favourite. It’s interesting but it’s very difficult to drive. I love the way it looks – it has something of the Gatsby era about it.

"I have some other cars which I drive more often so I thought it was time to sell it. I have had it since just before lockdown. It’s definitely a car with a fascinating history but in terms of driving I have a Jaguar XJS which I love. And I have a 1971 E-Type Jaguar.”

Astaire bought the car after a successful West End summer in London in Lady, Be Good in 1926 with his sister Adele. He had the car shipped from the UK to America and it was changed to become a Playboy Roadster.

Meanwhile, a live show by the Bangers and Cash crew will be held at Scampston Hall in Malton on Saturday and Sunday August 12 and 13. There will be live questions-and-answers and some interesting vehicles on display, plus an auction. Mr Mathewson said: “I’m always hearing how much the show means to people so it’s nice to see something like this in person.”