Museum pays a massive £63k for famous TV-star van

| 4 Dec 2012

A Ford BB Box Van stole the limelight at Bonhams' December Sale at Mercedes-Benz World yesterday. The 1935 example sold for a huge £63,100, against an estimate of £20-30,000.

The reason for its popularity is the role it played as Jack Jones' van in Dad's Army. It made its debut in The Armoured Might Of Lance Corporal Jones – the first colour episode of the BBC sit-com.

It was only fitting that the van was secured by the Dad's Army Museum in Thetford, with a Captain Mainwaring lookalike taking control of the bidding.

"As soon as we knew it was going up for auction, we started an appeal to raise the money to buy it," said museum manager Corinne Fulford. "We knew we didn't have much time, so we also appealed for people to lend us the money to buy it. We were fortunate that two amazing sets of people did just that – Trevor and Mavis Jenkins, and Jo Pearson."

The museum is continuing its appeal on its website, to raise the money to pay back its benefactors.

The auction played out to a packed salesroom, with the third and last selection of cars from the Patrick Collection providing some impressive results.

A 1950 Land-Rover prototype that was fitted with a Rolls-Royce engine smashed its estimate by reaching £47,150, while an Invicta S-type Low-Chassis Tourer attracted spirited bidding in the room and on the 'phones before selling for £466,300.

A strong early bid of £45,000 momentarily stalled interest in the 1947 Bentley MkVI Countryman Shooting Brake (above). The car was the first to be converted by Radford, and was used by Harold Radford as his personal transport. After a late flurry of activity the final price was £59,740.

The Watkins Collection of bizarre vehicles all sold. The Hillman Imp 'Flatmobile' made £9775, while a Reliant-based dining table – the 'FastFood' – went to a phone bidder for £7475. The biggest surprise, however, came from the Shanghai Shenke 'Wind up'. Claimed to be the world's smallest roadworthy car, it almost doubled its top estimate in reaching £13,225.

Other highlights included a fabulous 1935 Bentley Sports Saloon by Gurney Nutting that made £79,900, plus a 1957 Mercedes 300SL roadster (£427,100) and a 1938 Jaguar SS100 (£250,140).

The ex-Ron Hickman 1970 Lotus Elan Sprint looked good value at £18,400.

Among the few non-sellers in a successful fixture was the Hawker Hurricane, which reached £1.2million – just short of what auctioneer James Knight needed to confirm the sale.

All prices include buyer's premium. You can find the full results here.