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DONALD SLEATOR (December 25, 1932 – October 11, 2023)

Cyrille Jaquinot

Volume 48 Issue 24

Dec 24, 2023

Donald Sleator was the French importer for Ferrari. His company Franco-Britannic Autos Ltd. helped Ferrari expand on the continent. His story is worth looking into. His story is on par with Chinetti in America.

    It is with deep sadness to learn of the death of Donald Henri Noël Sleator who would have been 91 years old on December 25.

    For those who don’t remember, Donald wrote one of the most beautiful pages in automobile history in France, notably by flying the colors of Ferrari as an importer from 1958 to 1968.

    His father, Alexander Walter Sleator, of British origin, was the historic importer since 1933 in Paris of prestigious brands such as Rolls-Royce, Bentley and Rover, running his company Franco-Britannic Autos Ltd (also called FBA Ltd).

    In the fall of 1958, on the good advice of his coachbuilder friend Battista “Pinin” Farina, he went to Modena to sign an exclusive importer contract for France and Monaco with Enzo Ferrari.

    Upon his return to Paris, he appointed his son Donald (aged 26, just finished his studies in mechanical engineering at Rolls-Royce in England) as Technical Director of FBA Ltd, and charged him with organizing the import and distribution.

    At that time, Ferrari began its transformation into the idea of manufacturing and selling sports touring cars with the collaboration of Pinin Farina (the name changed from 1961 to Pininfarina) in Turin and Scaglietti in Modena.


            250 GTE S/N 2229 GT and Sleator family

    Donald himself very often delivered Ferraris by road to his customers - for the mayor of Bayonne, Dr. Henri Grenet, for example, or even as far as Monaco.

    Always accompanied by his dear wife Josy Sleator, called “GPS” who guided him with his Michelin road maps placed on his knees. In a single year, he remembers having covered more than 100,000 km in a 250 GTE from the company, the Ferrari 2+2 family car.

    Very combative, Donald actively participated in all the car races in France, assisting his clients (Pierre Noblet, Jean Guichet... all of whom later became friends) in the Grand Turismo (GT) formula.

    At the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June 1955 was the date of the terrible accident with Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes. His father Walter Sleator, then suffering, entrusted him with the Bentley R-Type Continental at the age of 23, driving the official support car, with the agreement of the ACO (Automobile Club de l’Ouest).


            June 1963, S/N 4155 GT and Donald Sleator

    Subsequently during the twelve years that followed, Donald assumed every year, with a Ferrari of the company, as official driver of the ACO, the assistance in racing with the co-director Charles de Cortanze until the June 1967 edition.


            May 2018, S/N 4155 GT amd Donald Sleator

    The Ferrari “Pace Cars” at the 24 Hours of Le Mans driven by Donald Sleator.

    1960: 250 GTE prototipo, S/N 1895 GT (loaned by the factory).
    1961: 250 GTE 1st series, S/N 2173 GT
    1962: 250 GTE 2nd series, S/N 3341 GT
    1963: 250 GTE 3rd series, S/N4155 GT
    1964: 330 GT 2+2 1st series, S/N 5403 GT
    1965: 330 GT 2+2 1st series, S/N 6273 GT
    1966: 330 GT 2+2 2nd series, S/N 7557 GT
    1967: 330 GT 2+2 2nd series, S/N 9097 GT

    To discover more history about Donald Sleator and Franco-Britannic Autos Ltd. find Cyrille Jaquinot’s excellent book Franco-Britannic Autos Ltd. 1st exclusive importer in France (1958-1968).

    Go to to find this book and other fine books written by Cyrille Jaquinot.







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