The Land Rover that was owned by Sir Winston Churchill is being put up at auction for about £60,000 after being stored for 35 years in a shed. The vehicle has a registration number of UKE 80 and was given to the former British Prime Minister as a gift from Rover, the car manufacturer, in November 1954 for his 80th birthday. The Conservative politician and statesman served the country as prime minister twice – the first term was during the Second World War.
The vehicle is a Series 1 Land Rover, which had several non-standard features, as it was custom made for the famous wartime politician. It had an extra-wide seat on the passenger side to accommodate his considerable girth. The vehicle also had a leather-clad grab handle and a fold-down arm rest. Later, a footwell heater was added to ensure he didn’t catch cold while being chauffeured around his 300 acre Chartwell, Kent estate. A fitted box was also an unusual feature, which was used to store his trowel so he could do some bricklaying on the estate – a hobby of his.
After Sir Winston’s death in 1965, the Rt Hon Christopher Soames (his son-in-law) inherited the Land Rover. He used it on his farm and then sold it in 1973 for £160 during a sale of his farm equipment. Norman Mills, the buyer, didn’t know how he would get the vehicle back home with him in and asked Frank Quay, his neighbour, for help.
When Quay reviewed the log book and saw that the first owner was Sir Winston, he realised the historic significance and offered to pay double the price for it on the spot. Mills accepted the £320 offer, and Quay used the Land Rover for four years on his farm. It was active in light farm duties and towed his daughter’s horsebox during that time. However, then he decided that the Land Rover was too valuable, and in 1977, he stored it in his shed when the road tax expired. He only brought it out of the shed when he occasionally displayed it for charity fund raising events.
Then in 1999, he tried to sell the Land Rover for about £30,000 through an internet auction with Sotheby’s, which was a collaboration with Amazon. However, the vehicle was withdrawn before the £30,000 could be met, as the sale was hit with technical difficulties and lack of savvy bidders online. The farmer’s son, Leslie, was given the Land Rover nine years ago for his 40th birthday and has decided to sell it through Cheffins – complete with its log book. Quay, now 81, says the vehicle has a lot of history and is still in great condition. It’s been stored safely for years, he noted.
The value of the vintage vehicle has soared since Quay first tried to auction it, as some Series 1s fetch £20,000 without the connection to Sir Winston. This Land Rover, which has 12,932 miles, is expected to auction for between £50,000 and £60,000. The sale will take place in Sutton on October 20.
Cheffins associate auctioneer Jeremy Curzon says they expect a lot of interest in the Land Rover considering Sir Winston’s position as the 20th century’s foremost statesman. Quay is a long-standing client and knows that their vintage sales are famous around the world. He added that the events are held three times a year and feature equipment like historic motorcycles, vintage tractors and steam engines.Author's Google+ page