Vet­eran movie star

Dar­racq called Genevieve

New Zealand Classic Car - - Report -

on the Fri­day night prior to the Lon­don to Brighton run.

The Dar­racq fea­tured in the mas­sively suc­cess­ful Baf­taaward-win­ning 1953 film Genevieve, a good old-fash­ioned Bri­tish com­edy, pro­duced on a shoe­string bud­get, in which two pas­sion­ate but ec­cen­tric pairs of car own­ers — Alan Mckim ( John Greg­son) and his wife Wendy (Di­nah Sheri­dan) in the Dar­racq, and arch ri­vals Am­brose Claver­house (Ken­neth More) with newly ac­quired girl­friend Ros­alind Peters (Kay Kendall) in a 1904 Dutch Spyker — com­pete in the an­nual Lon­don to Brighton Vet­eran Car Run. The film clev­erly com­bines the four-wheeled jalop­ies of yes­ter­year with post-war mid­dle­class val­ues in an era deemed some­thing of a golden age of Bri­tish film com­edy.

In­ter­est­ingly, ‘Genevieve’ ar­rived in New Zealand in 1958 un­der quite con­tro­ver­sial cir­cum­stances. Ge­orge Gill­trap of Rotorua, who pur­chased the car, took it and his other old cars to the Gold Coast in Aus­tralia, where he set up the well-known Gill­traps Auto Mu­seum in which Genevieve stayed for 30 years be­fore be­ing re­turned to the UK.

Rod­ney’s re­mark­able, in-depth bi­og­ra­phy of Genevieve is in­deed the first of its kind. Through his own per­sonal re­la­tion­ship with Genevieve’s own­ers and re­stor­ers in Eng­land, New Zealand, Aus­tralia, and the Nether­lands, Rod­ney has amassed an ex­ten­sive ar­ray of pic­to­rial and ar­chive ma­te­rial over a pe­riod ex­tend­ing more than 40 years that has now been made avail­able for the first time.

The book launch got off to a great start with Bon­hams (partly owned by the Louw­man fam­ily, who also owns the Dutch Na­tional Mo­tor Mu­seum and Genevieve) turn­ing on French cham­pagne like wa­ter. Vet­eran en­thu­si­asts from all over the world were there with cars such as the 1926 Rolls-royce Phan­tom I Brougham De Ville car­ry­ing a price tag of be­tween £500K and £700K.

Genevieve her­self was on the floor of Bon­hams’ foyer with Rod­ney, who was sign­ing pur­chased copies of the book.

Also present were daugh­ters of Genevieve’s film-star own­ers in the movie, Di­nah Sheri­dan’s daugh­ter Jenny Han­ley and John Greg­son’s daugh­ter, Cathy Bar­clay-white, as well as the son and daugh­ter of the two men who dis­cov­ered the pair of rusted Dar­racqs in 1945 that were even­tu­ally made into the one car that be­came Genevieve.

Rod­ney has ded­i­cated the book to Di­nah Sheri­dan, who passed away in 2012 at the age of 92. She was a per­sonal friend for more than four decades. They met thanks to Genevieve the film.

The book is avail­able through Ama­zon and the Bri­tish pub­lisher, Ve­loce, and will be in lo­cal book shops by mid year.

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