Laurel and Hardy

Stan & Ollie: Laurel and Hardy car back on the road

A car used by Laurel and Hardy as part of a road safety campaign has been made driveable for the first time in about 40 years.

The legendary comedy duo posed with the 1902 Wolseley in Northampton in 1953 on their final tour, which is the subject of the new hit film Stan & Ollie.

A sign on the car advised motorists “a deadly sin is cutting in – cut it out”.

The car has been restored into working order by Peter Grose, whose grandfather owned it, and Roger Wood.

Mr Wood said they “had to strip the whole engine down” and rebuild it, but now “on a decent day” the vehicle could reach speeds of up to 40mph (64km/h).

The car is now in a garage in Northamptonshire

Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy were once two of the most distinguished comic actors in Hollywood but by the 1950s they embarked on a British tour with their star having fallen.

Called Birds Of A Feather, the tour – depicted in the new film staring Steve Coogan and John C Reilly – began in Northampton in October 1953, before visiting cities including Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.

While in Northampton, the pair were persuaded to promote a road safety week in the town.

The car fell out of use but went on display at the family’s garage in Kingsthorpe, Northampton, until it closed down and then sat in a “old disused workshop for years”.

Who were Laurel and Hardy?

  • Laurel, an Englishman born in Cumbria, and Hardy, an American, were both actors in their own right before becoming a comedy duo in 1927
  • The pair performed their trademark brand of slapstick comedy in more than 100 films together
  • They fell out of favour in Hollywood in the 1940s and started to perform touring shows
  • After a performance in Plymouth in 1954, Hardy had a mild heart attack and the duo only performed once more together
  • Hardy died aged 65 in August 1957 and Laurel refused to perform on stage or act in films without his best friend before his death in 1965
Laurel and Hardy
Image caption,Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy’s slapstick comedy was hugely popular during the early classical Hollywood era of American cinema

Mr Grose said: “When we sold the business about seven years ago I started to take a bit more notice of it.

“It wasn’t running and that seemed a shame because I was aware it had been used by Laurel and Hardy in 1953 and it was time to try to pay a bit of attention and get the thing going again.”

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