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1966 Elan S3 Drophead Coupé 'Emma Peel - The Avengers'

Lot Number: 457

1966 Elan S3 Drophead Coupé 'Emma Peel - The Avengers'

On offer from the Piddington Collection. After filming Series 5 and 6 of The Avengers, the Television Company gave this super little S3 Drophead to Diana Rigg who played Emma Peel in 51 episodes of the long-running British TV series.

  • Sold for: £164,250

LIVE AUCTION: This lot was auctioned on Saturday 25th February, 2023 at 12.00pm GMT at Stoneleigh Park, Stoneleigh Rd, Coventry, CV8 2LG

  • Body Colour

    Jaguar Opalescent Blue

  • Drive


  • Registration Number

    SJH 499D

  • Odometer Reading

    2552 Miles


On offer from the Piddington Collection. After filming Series 5 and 6 of The Avengers, the Television Company gave this super little S3 Drophead to Diana Rigg who played Emma Peel in 51 episodes of the long-running British TV series.


The Avengers was a spy-fi British television series set in 1960s Britain and focused initially on the exploits of Dr. David Keel (Ian Hendry) and his assistant John Steed (Patrick Macnee). Hendry left after the first series and Steed became the main character, partnered by a succession of intelligent, stylish and assertive female assistants with Cathy Gale (Honor Blackman), Emma Peel (Diana Rigg) and later, Tara King (Linda Thorson), all becoming household names at the time. Later episodes increasingly incorporated elements of science fiction, fantasy, parody and classic British eccentricity becoming a little weirder as the years went by. The Avengers ran from 1961 until 1969, screening as one-hour episodes its entire run and, in the end, had been shown in over 90 countries.

The late Diana Rigg joined for Series 4 and took part in 51 episodes leaving after Series 6. During Series 4, she was often seen driving a Cirrus White Elan S2 (HNK 999C) however that was returned to Lotus (subsequently becoming the property of a director’s wife) and for Series 5 (the first in colour), an early production S3 was offered by Lotus for the series which had started to become popular in the US with obvious marketing benefits. The car is often described as an S3-SE but is, in fact, a high-spec standard pre-airflow car with the four bolt-crank, rope seal and blue cam-cover engine. It was, however, fitted with knock-on wheels and polished sill trims similar to the SE. It was finished from new in Jaguar Opalescent Blue and has been faithfully repainted in the correct shade during its recent restoration. SJH 499D featured in 19 episodes and at the end of Series 6 the car was gifted to Diana Rigg by the TV production company, ABC Television, we imagine with some support from Lotus who had undoubtedly benefited from the little car’s worldwide fame.

She wasn’t really a keen driver at the time (she only learned to drive for the show) and shortly afterwards gave the Elan to a friend. At this point, SJH 499D commenced its international travels as Diana’s friend sold the car a few years later to her sister who lived in America. It was subsequently purchased by Peter Nelson’s ‘Cars of the Stars Museum’ in Keswick, returning to the UK and remaining there, amidst some exalted company, until it closed in 2011. The world of ‘Movie Cars’ is quite small and Florida-based, Michael Dezer, acted very quickly to secure this Elan (along with most of the other Keswick cars) for his Dezer Collection at the Miami Auto Museum so. For the third time, SJH 499D traversed the Atlantic. That same level of tenacity was exhibited by our Northamptonshire vendor who managed to persuade Michael Dezer to part with the Emma Peel car in 2013 and, once again, the Opalescent Blue S3 confirmed its ‘frequent flyer’ status and returned to the UK.

In common with all the Elans in this fabulous collection, the car was entrusted to the well respected team of Ken and Neil Myers to commence a full, body-off, long-term restoration to their normal remarkable standards. Pleasingly the chassis, body and engine are all original as are the black leather seats that were fitted when the car was new. A Westminster radio transceiver was also sourced and fitted into the glove box to recreate those ‘Avengers’ moments when Peel contacted Steed.

The Elan has an indicated mileage of 2,552 which may well be correct with its limited use on the film set and in three important Collections. Given its exposure over 19 episodes in a TV series that was viewed in over 90 countries and the fact that many of these episodes are still available to view today, we feel confident in suggesting that this is the most famous Lotus Elan in the world and appears very sensibly guided considering its spectacular condition and unrepeatable sixties movie star provenance.

As well as an original Elan tool kit, the usual registration documentation, an extract from the factory Car Allocation records and correspondence from Lotus, SJH 499D is accompanied by a remarkable collection of Avengers memorabilia and we doubt if there is a larger collection anywhere. It includes 3 x VHS Tapes with appropriate details known as "The First Ever Episodes Collection", 12 DVDs with special pics entitled "The Avengers: The Complete 50th Anniversary Collection", a further 19 x DVD collection (digitally re-mastered) in a presentation box by De Wreckers, books; "Bowler Hats and Kinky Boots: The Unofficial and Unauthorised Guide to "The Avengers"  by Michael Richardson, "Mrs Peel-We're Needed"  by Rodney Marshall, "The Avengers - A Celebration"  by Marcus Hearn, an LP with the Theme Music by the Laurie Johnson Orchestra, more books about Stars and their Cars, John Steed & Emma Peel Deluxe Talking Action Figures (unopened), Corgi 1/43rd model of the Elan in its box, lots of original photographs - some official press releases and lots that were taken by others on set - all unrepeatable.


Lot Number
Registration Number
SJH 499D
MOT Expiry
Chassis Number
Engine Number
Body Colour
Jaguar Opalescent Blue



For further information regarding this lot please contact Rob.





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