The Open Road's Jaguar E-Type in good company at  Millionaire Manor
The Open Road's Jaguar E-Type in good company at Millionaire Manor
7th January 2006
The BBC National Lottery Show on a Saturday evening includes a game show called Millionaire Manor which is produced by Initial, part of Endemol UK. The show, hosted by Mike Durden-Smith, has three families competing to win a week, living the millionaire lifestyle, in the Millionaire Manor.  It includes a game where the three teams have to guess which of three items is the most valuable.  Past games have included such millionaire lifestyle items as; antique furniture, oil paintings and jewellery.  For the show on 7 January 2006 the producers decided to include some millionaire style Supercars.  They decided on three classic cars, two modern and an older one.


So on Friday 6 January The Open Road’s 1970 Jaguar E-Type Coupe was parked up in front of the Millionaire Manor alongside an Aston Martin Vanquish S and a Ferrari Enzo.  At the appropriate point in the game, two contestants would come out, have one minute to walk round all three cars and decide on which one they thought was worth the most.  I thought this would be a no-brainer for anyone, even if they knew next to nothing about cars.  


We were contacted just before Christmas by the company that were providing the Ferrari Enzo and the Aston Martin Vanquish as they wanted a good, red E-Type Jaguar to fit the bill.  We have provided cars for TV companies before and they always plead poverty and never want to pay our full daily hire rate.  This didn't change for a TV show that is giving away millions of Pounds.  But hopeful of benefiting from some prime time TV coverage, we settled on a lower rate.  After all, the car wasn’t going to be driven anywhere and how long can it take to make one minute of TV?


The location of the Millionaire Manor is allegedly a secret, so despite having committed to providing the car and agreeing a price, I didn’t know where I was going until the day before.  The plan was to meet up at a village pub in the South East of England where our E-Type, together with the Enzo and Vanquish would be valetted.  Then once the contestants were safely inside the Manor and wouldn’t see us arrive, we would be escorted the remaining distance to the location and parked up outside ready for filming. 


After driving down through some light showers the E-Type certainly needed a clean before its TV debut and it received the full treatment.  This included pressure washing (fortunately without removing any paint), a wash, polish, chrome polish and the tyres blacked.  The pub car park received a lot of attention from passers by wanting to take photos, mainly of the Enzo, and enquiring what we were all doing there.


After a three hour wait, during which time all cars received the same treatment, we were driven off down a series of windy country lanes to the Manor.  By the time we arrived, all three cars had collected some road dirt from the undrained lanes and after parking up in front of the house, the car valeter spent another hour or so, re-cleaning all three cars.


Filming the show was scheduled to start at about 3:00 pm and finish by 7:00 pm.  Our section is quite near the end of the programme so was planned to happen around 6:00pm.  After spending about 20 minutes re-positioning the cars perfectly, so that the Aston’s bonnet badge was in line with the centre of the Manor doors, and the Enzo and E-Type were equally spaced alongside, all was ready. 


Then 5 minutes before filming, the producer asked for the car lights to be turned on.  No problem except that 5 minutes in TV land can be anything from 2 minutes to an hour and a half.


About 20 minutes later the Enzo owner warned that he would have to start the engine soon otherwise the battery would run down.  If an Enzo battery goes flat you can’t just jump start it (in fact you can’t even get to the battery), you have to call out Ferrari to get it going again.  Eventually just before the Enzo time limit, the two contestants came out to view the cars and pick the one they thought was worth most.


In the space of 60 seconds the mother and daughter, who admitted they knew nothing about cars, had to make a decision. 


They had already been told that one of them was worth £650,000 to which the mother replied she had never driven anything worth more than £500.   


After valuing our E-Type at £100,000 they decided on the Aston Martin Vanquish – because it was in the middle.  Who says women aren’t scientific in their approach?


Despite knowing nothing about cars they went on to win! 


The Aston is actually worth £190,000 so was the mid priced car.  The Ferrari Enzo was of course the most valuable.  The one on show was not just any Enzo but was number 399, out of 399 made so was the last one off the line and therefore should be worth more than an ‘ordinary’ Enzo.


As soon as the contestants went back inside, the engines of all three cars were started and another half an hour was spent taking close up shots of the cars from all sorts of angles.  While we were pleased they had estimated that our £22,000 E-Type was worth £100,000, it is actually in a different league from the others.  But then a car is worth what someone will pay for it, so any takers at £100,000?


And how long does it take to make one minute of TV?  Thirteen hours in total; 4 hours travelling, 2 hours valeting, about 1 hour of filming and the rest hanging around in the freezing January cold.



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