One of the gems to be seen at the 2015 Lancaster Insurance Classic Car Show was to be found on the British Mini Club stand. A Mini Cooper 1275S that was owned by Yorkshire’s favourite Irishman, actor Peter O’Toole.
Although he became famous through playing the lead character in David Lean’s cinematic epic, Lawrence of Arabia, Peter O’Toole saw himself primarily as a stage actor who occasionally made mainly indifferent films.
In 1966, at the height of his film stardom, he bought a Morris Mini Cooper 1275S from a London dealer. The actor specified a tuned engine, along with Cosmic alloy wheels and had the car in British Racing Green, then a Jaguar colour. It would not be until the late 1980s that the factory produced a British Racing Green Mini.
Peter O’Toole racked up 62,000 miles in the car, before it was retired to a heated garage in 1991 when its road tax expired. Shortly before his death in December 2013, the actor asked serial Mini owner and restorer Dave Boswell to revive the car. Boswell, who also owns the Mini 1275GT that Richard Longman used to win the 1978 and 1979 British Saloon Car Championship, began the restoration process.
Sadly, progress was interrupted by Peter O’Toole’s death but, undeterred. Dave Boswell bought the car from the actor’s estate and completed the restoration. Compared with many Minis that were owned by celebrities, the O’Toole Mini is positively restrained.
Cosmic wheels, a smaller leather steering wheel and a wooden dashboard are all that really differentiate the car from a standard factory example – even the non-standard colour was later adopted by Longbridge. There are no performance-blunting, weighty modifications on this car.
It is good to see the car has survived the ravages of time.