For many, he was the greatest sportsperson ever; now one of Muhammad Ali’s beloved Rolls-Royces is being sold at auction.
Ali’s 1970 Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow Mulliner Park Ward Convertible will be offered at Bonhams’ annual Zoute Sale in Belgium on 5 October with an estimate of €40,000-60,000.
However, the vehicle will be sold with no reserve – which means if you’re lucky, you could pick up an incredible piece of sporting memorabilia for a bargain amount.
Fittingly for a champion who won the World Heavyweight title on three separate occasions, and defended it some 25 times, Ali’s Rolls-Royce was itself a mighty machine.
A coachbuilt variant of the Silver Shadow, the Mulliner Park Ward cloaked the standard vehicle in a stunning new aluminium body with an upswept wing line inspired by the Silver Cloud.
Available in either coupé or convertible form, it was kitted out with an even more luxurious interior than that of the standard Silver Shadow: all Wilton carpeting, Connolly hide and burr walnut veneers.
Mechanically, it was near-identical to the Shadow, which means it was built around a 6.7-litre V8 engine and three-speed automatic gearbox. Despite its hefty 2190kg weight, it was capable of reaching 120mph.
The MPW Shadow proved a big hit, to the extent that from March ’71 Rolls-Royce decided to give future conversions an identity of their own, renaming them the Corniche.
Unsurprisingly, the conversion process took some 20 weeks and was all done by hand. And even more predictably, it added another £3500 to the already-high £9k price-tag.
Not that a high price will have bothered Ali too much at the time.
The boxer is said to have splashed out on the flashy motor in celebration of finally being re-awarded his boxing licence, having had it removed nearly five years earlier because he refused to be drafted into the US army.
He paid a little more than £12,000 for the Rolls when he bought it in New Jersey in 1970, but given that in less than a year’s time he would fight Joe Frazier for the first time, his earning power was only going to go up from there.
Ali was a noted car enthusiast, who also owned an Alfa Romeo Spider, a jewel-encrusted 1959 Mercedes-Benz 220S – named the ‘Golden Angel Wing’ – a ’59 Cadillac Eldorado and several other Rolls-Royces.
He owned this one for six years, before selling it to a second owner in the USA in 1976. It was then purchased by an enthusiast in Holland, where it has remained until today.
The car has never been completely restored; even the rare optional headrests are still in place and it retains most of its original interior, although it does now sport a different colour inside.
The car will be sold by Bonhams at its Zoute Sale on 5 October. You can view a full lot list here.
[Main image: Getty]