Veteran movie star
Darracq called Genevieve
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.