Lifeboat paid for by sale of rare Ferraris launched for first time
The RNLI vessel will be stationed in East Sussex.
A lifeboat paid for by the sale of two of the world’s rarest Ferraris has been officially launched and named after its donor.
Businessman Richard Colton bequeathed the red 1960 250 GT SWB and the silver 1967 275 GTB/4 models to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) in his will when he died aged 82 in March 2015.
The classic cars sold for a total of £8.5 million at an auction in the months after his death, helping to pay for a lifeboat stationed in Hastings, East Sussex, where it was officially launched during a ceremony on Saturday.
The boat was named after Mr Colton and his late wife Caroline.
His cousin Jo Adams attended to mark the occasion alongside his godson, while champagne was poured over the front of the boat.
One of the cars even made an appearance for a photoshoot with the new vessel.
RNLI crew, volunteers and dignitaries also attended the event at the town’s lifeboat station.
Mrs Adams said: “As Richard’s first cousin and sadly the last surviving Colton, I, together with all my family and his friends are immensely proud of this wonderful gesture.
“It is of even greater significance personally because my husband and I have always been keen offshore sailors and recognise full well what the RNLI means to the sailing community amongst many others.”
Mr Colton’s godson Charles Denton described it as a “very moving occasion”, adding: “A fitting tribute to a fantastic legacy.”
As well as having a successful footwear distribution career in Northamptonshire, Mr Colton collected classic cars for 40 years and became a prominent member of the Ferrari Owners’ Club.
Described by close friends as “a shy and private man”, he was known to be nervous of the sea so decided to leave his collection to the RNLI.
The sale of the rare cars set what was thought to be a new world record.
Just 167 of the 1960 Ferrari were ever made, with only 10 sold as new in the UK. It sold for £6.6 million during the auction.
The 1967 model, which went under the hammer at £1.93 million, was thought by many to be the ultimate front-engined Enzo-era Ferrari road car.
The Shannon class lifeboat cost £2.2 million and its launch vehicle cost £1.5 million.
It is the first of the RNLI’s all-weather lifeboat models to be powered by water jets rather than traditional propellers, making it the most agile in the fleet, the charity said.
Mr Colton’s legacy also included an E-type Jaguar which belonged to football legend George Best and a 1976 Jaguar which featured as the character John Steed’s car in the 1970s TV series The New Avengers, making it the single most valuable bequest ever left to the charity.
It is hoped the remaining funds will go towards paying for another lifeboat and launch vehicle but this is yet to be confirmed, the RNLI said.
Hastings coxswain Phil Jones said: “We are so grateful to the legacy of Richard Colton for making this happen.
“His legacy will enable the station to carry out our lifesaving work and serve the community of Hastings.
“Six out of 10 lifeboat launches are only made possible by legacies, large and small, left to the RNLI in people’s wills.
“These gifts pay for the training and equipment we as lifeboat crew rely on when we launch into the unknown, in all weathers, day or night, to save others.”