Celebrities have been known to do all sorts of things with their money. But the ones that catch our attention, naturally, are the ones who spend their fortunes (and their spare time) on cars.
We’re talking about guys like Jay Leno, Nick Mason, and yes, Rowan Atkinson – the man perhaps best known to the public for his portrayal of the comically silent character Mr. Bean.
Atkinson is such a car guy that we’re almost surprised that he hasn’t come to host some version of Top Gear (or another of his kind). He’s owned (and regularly driven) a McLaren F1, raced classic Jaguars, and even convinced BMW to loan him a Rolls-Royce prototype with an experimental V16 engine for the filming of 2011’s Johnny English Reborn.
In 1984, Atkinson had his own television comedy, The Black Adder. He was sharing the stage alongside a 10-year-old Christian Bale in a theatrical production of The Nerd, and had (most tellingly) just starred alongside Sean Connery in the 007 flick Never Say Never Again. That’s when he bought this Aston Martin – a 1981 V8 Vantage, resplendent in a deep shade of Imperial Burgundy with a Magnolia light beige interior.
It was converted from left- to right-hand drive, and packed a 5.3-liter V8 that produced about 380 horsepower (advertised, Rolls-Royce-style, as “adequate”). The big coupe could hustle to 60 in 5.2 seconds and top out at 175 mph, which may not be that quick by today’s standards, but was enough to make it the fastest-accelerating production car in the world upon its release in 1978.
“An Aston, particularly a burgundy one, is more like a Bentley,” Atkinson told Autocar in October of 1984. “That’s the reason for buying one, rather than a Ferrari. In the end, it has cost the same amount of money, but more discreet.” He ultimately owned the car for only a matter of months, but now it’s looking for another buyer. Bonhams will auction it off as part of its upcoming sale this month at the old Aston Martin factory in Newport Pagnell, where it’s expected to bring in some £150,000 to £180,000 – or about $200k – maybe more if its celebrity provenance stirs up a little extra enthusiasm.