Terry-Thomas: What did the real Dick Dastardly drive?

Dick Dastardly may have driven the infamous Mean Machine in Wacky Races, but his real-life counterpart had something even more menacing – and it could be yours!

Terry-Thomas epitomised virtually every type of Briton on screen, from upper-class cad to crook, dandy and daredevil. His zestful personas, villain-esque moustache and gap-toothed grin created a rich tapestry of comic roles, the quintessential of which – for petrolheads, at least – came in 1969’s _Monte Carlo or Bust.

Portraying a rally driver with all manner of dishonourable methods to ensure victory, his exploits partly inspired a certain cartoon character by the name of Dick Dastardly; the fiendish scoundrel from the legendary cartoon series Wacky Races.

So, what did the real-life Dastardly drive on a daily basis? Well, as the archetypal English bounder, there could be only one marque to fit the bill – Jaguar. Actually, we fib in a manner ol’ Terry-Thomas would be proud of, for his wheels of choice were a tad more upmarket than that…

More classic car madness with Terry-Thomas

In fact, Dick Dastardly drove a Daimler. To those without anoraks, by the 1960s the Daimler badge appeared solely on up-market Jaguar saloons. Owning a Jag certainly brought provenance and oozed class, but the high-cost Daimler equivalent trumpeted wealth, gravitas and clout. If you drove your Daimler the wrong way up a one-way street, it was the other guy who backed up.

The 1970’s proved to be a tough time for Terry-Thomas. Diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and struggling to conceal his condition on screen, he bought his final car in 1975 – a Daimler Sovereign 3.4-litre LWB. Due to his worsening condition, it has been suggested that he opted for an automatic transmission. However, almost all top-level Daimlers came with an automatic gearbox by this time.

After almost a decade behind the wheel of his gallant Daimler Sovereign, Thomas gifted the vehicle to his niece in 1984, just as his financial affairs were being assessed. In the same year, his villa on Ibiza in Spain’s Balearic Islands had to be sold due to rising debts from the actor’s illness. He couldn’t work in later years, yet the sale of the Daimler seemed too emotional for him. Instead, he gave it to one of his nearest and dearest. Terry-Thomas died on January 9, 1990.

Save Terry-Thomas' Daimler!

His niece owned the luxury saloon until 2013, where it appears to have been sold privately. The Daimler was stored inside throughout this time, yet its current state is beyond road-worthy.

Despite the celebrity origin and full documentation, the Daimler has been left to the elements and currently resides in a sorry condition. This is something that Dick Dastardly would never stand for. Luckily, the very vehicle is for sale in the AutoClassics classifieds. We think you should save it.

The bodywork is in need of total overhaul and the drivetrain will require a strip-down rebuild. Don't believe it's a non-runner though, as it apparently starts and drives. The interior appears to be in rather fine condition, boasting sumptuous velour and an unmarked facia.

A Jaguar/Daimler saloon is never a restoration job for the faint-hearted with a complex frame and distinctly tricky suspension set-up, but if you seek a challenge worthy of the greatest English comic actor ever to grace the planet, look no further.

Spend some time and money on this beast and not only will you have the smoothest, most comfortable and downright aggressive 1970s luxury saloon, but also the real-life, tarmac-snorting equivalent to Dick Dastardly’s infamous Mean Machine. Get a closer look with the AutoClassics classified advert.

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