A Series 1 Land Rover presented to Sir Winston Churchill on his 80th birthday was sold for £129,000 by Cheffins of Cambridge, more than double the top estimate – an auction record for a Land Rover, say the auctioneers.
The vehicle was given to the Churchill on
November 30, 1954, complete with "extra wide" accommodation to suit
"the great man's great suit".
The eight inch wide middle seat was
converted to a padded fold down armrest whilst a leather clad grab
handle was fitted to the bulkhead.
A later addition, and boon for the comfort
of the noble passenger, was the truck cab and foot-well heater, no
doubt welcome on a cold Kent morning.
The octogenarian Prime Minister put the
vehicle to good use, as it became his chosen mode of transport for
chauffering him around his 300-acre Chartwell estate.
Appearing at Cheffins' vintage sale on
October 20 at Sutton Saleground near Ely, it came with the original
buff logbook and was registered as UKE 80 in the name of the Rt
Hon. Sir Winston Spencer Churchill KG. OM. CH. MP. Chartwell,
Westerham, Kent, although his signature was absent.
The UKE (United Kingdom Empire) registration
number was a standard Kent issue for December 1954 but it is
unknown whether the '80' was deliberately applied or simply a
Above: Sir Winston Churchill with the Series 1 Land Rover
which sold at Cheffins.
In untouched condition and still running
with just 12,900 miles on the clock, it was estimated at
The bidding started at £40,000 and a number
of enthusiastic bidders in the room, on i-bidder
online and on phones, with international interest, took it to
£90,000 before a final, determined two-way battle saw it sell to a
mystery buyer at the saleground.
The vehicle remained on the Chartwell estate
until Churchill's death in January 1965. Shortly after, in June of
that year, the buff logbook records the new custodian as Sir
Winston Churchill's son-in-law the Rt Hon. A C Soames CBE. MP.
Hamsell Manor, Eridge, Tonbridge Wells, Kent.
It is known that the Land Rover was only
road taxed until December 1967 and thereafter used exclusively
around the Eridge farm until 1973, a warning note not to use the
vehicle on the road still survives from this time. Christopher
Soames had by this time become Vice President of the EEC and this
prompted a sale of farm equipment at Hamsell Manor, amongst which
was the Land Rover.
The successful bidder was Norman Mills who
bought it for £160 and, following an argument with the auctioneer,
managed to obtain the logbook.
Soon afterwards, Mills sold it to his
neighbour Frank Quay who bought the car after seeing the previous
owner recorded in the logbook and offering Mills double the auction
Quay put the Land Rover to work towing his
daughter's horse box to various events for the next four years but,
in 1977, he decided it was too important an asset to keep driving.
Keeping it in a shed, he gave it occasional outings to local events
and charity fund days. He then put it up for auction around 1999
but, due to the difficulties of online auctions at the time, he
decided to withdraw it an placed it back in the shed for the next
The buyer's premium at Cheffins was 19.5%