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Bee sits on Jaguar E-type gear stick

9600 HP, a man and a bee

By Philip Porter

About a year ago, I had a call asking if I would be happy to provide my E-type, 9600 HP, for a Netflix production starring Rowan Atkinson. Not surprisingly, I did not hesitate.

Atkinson had, I subsequently learnt, requested this particular car. He is, of course, a dyed-in-the-wool car enthusiast and has owned and raced some very special cars. I recall interviewing him at the very first Goodwood Revival meeting and asking what he thought of the event. He replied that he felt the Earl of March, as the Duke was then, was suffering from, ‘a form of madness, but it is a very benign form of madness’!

The Netflix series is called Man vs. Bee and has just been released.

I will not give much away, but the car comes in for what might be described as ‘rough treatment’. With this in mind, another Opalescent Gunmetal Grey E-type Coupe was obtained by the production team and mocked up, including certain interior features unique to this prototype, to double for the genuine car when appropriate.

Man vs Bee film set

Late last year, my wife and I were invited to the studios to watch the last day of filming. We had lunch in the ‘house’ that had been created, and then watched Rowan at work. For my wife in particular, as a former professional actress, this was especially interesting. He is clearly an absolute perfectionist and chose to do several takes of each scene until he was completely happy he had achieved his exacting standards.

Rowan Atkinson drives 9600 HP in Man vs Bee

I have not yet seen it, but the gist of the plot is that Rowan’s character encounters a troublesome bee while looking after a wealthy couple’s home. Having tried, unsuccessfully, to destroy the bee, but in doing so caused considerable damage, the bee enters the garage and then the E-type. It gets inside the dashboard and then the bodywork. I will say no more.

Rowan Atkinson listens for a bee inside the e-type

CKL Developments, who have looked after Atkinson’s competition cars for some years, prepared the mock-up E-type and told me that Rowan has decided to acquire this car, following suitable repairs. At the Members’ Meeting, at which he finished a splendid third in his unique alloy-bodied Jaguar Mark VII in the Sopwith Cup, Rowan visited our Porter Press stand and we had a long chat. He confirmed that, having never owned an E-type, he is indeed going to keep the car. Come to think of it, that probably would have been the perfect moment to mention the E-type Club my wife and I started in 2004. Perhaps next time?

Other articles by Philip Porter

Images courtesy Netflix

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