The guy offering this classic 1957 88-inch Land Rover is Tim Hughes. Tim hails from Shropshire, and he's looking for offers around £200,000. The vehicle is currently on eBay (10th February 2016). The advert is classified. The vehicle is described as "Used".
What makes it special is the fact that it's claimed to be the first ever production diesel Land Rover. Not the FIRST Land Rover, note. And not the first DIESEL Land Rover. No, it's just the first PRODUCTION diesel Land Rover. It's up for sale now because the two millionth Solihull-built Land Rover was recently sold for £400,000 (or roughly ten times the standard dealer price) and the wave it was riding might still be rolling.
This two millionth Land Rover (image immediately above) was bolted together by a bunch of celebrities having been specially reworked by the manufacturer. A crowd funding project was launched aimed at keeping it in the UK. But that failed. A Qatari businessman took a shine to it and, via Bonhams, paid the best part of half a million quid.
Tim's 1957 Land Rover is interesting for a number of reasons.
1. It was supplied as an open-topped vehicle. The first owner built the cab.
2. It doesn't have the original diesel engine.
3. Instead, it has a contemporary diesel engine on the back.
4. It's need a lick of paint and some other odds and ends sorting out.
5. Tim won't accept £150,000. But that price is "getting there".
We spoke to him and asked if he'd had a head injury recently. "No," he said. "Why?" So we explained that £200,000 seemed a lot of money for a Land Rover in that condition when its only (untested) claim to fame is the fact that it's the first production diesel.
"That's why I haven't restored it," said Tim. "It enables interested parties to come along and have a proper look. But if I had to restore it, I could probably do it for less than £50,000."
We then asked why he thought £200,000 was a reasonable and realistic asking price. "Why not?" he said. "A Ferrari recently sold for £30million."
That would be a 1957 Ferrari 335 S Spider Scaglietti (image immediately above) that actually fetched €32 million (£24.7 million) and broke the record for a racing car sold at auction. Also, Tim explained, Winston Churchill's personal Land Rover was sold by Cheffins in October 2012 for £129,000.
"But that's Winston Churchill," we suggested. "And he's got something of a reputation and a fairly large claim to fame."
Tim agreed with that, but nevertheless said that he wanted to test the market and see what he could get for the Land Rover.
"Take anything over £1,000," we suggested. But Tim said that he thought he could get more than that.
▲ Winston Churchill's Series One Land Rover. It was a present on his 80th birthday in 1954. With 12,932 miles on the clock, Cheffins estimated £50,000 - £60,000. It sold for more than double that. There's no evidence that "Winnie" ever drove it. But it's got a padded chair and a heater inside.
We have to say that he sounds like a perfectly decent and intelligent bloke. He was happy to take a little teasing, but insisted that this is a genuine advert with a £200,000 asking price. Therefore, if Tim can really get that kind of money for his barn stored non-runner, it has to be further evidence that it's us who are wildly out of step with the rest of the human race.
His telephone number is on the eBay advert, but he prefers email enquiries from genuinely interested parties, of which he claims there are many. Meanwhile there are a lot of idiots out there, he says, and they're making silly offers.
It's worth noting that his Trailers and Components business is getting a lot of free advertising as a result of this eBay offer. So maybe we're missing something here.
Either way, good luck to him. But if you do make a bid, make you you ask if he's got ... say, a couple of spare Land Rovers that he can chuck in. It don't hurt to ask, does it? And hey, check the MOT too. There are some very dodgy cars on the roads these days.
— The Third Man (back from holiday)
We're still waiting to hear what Bonhams has to say about its latest auction adventures at Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais in Paris on 4th February 2016. But no doubt a press release will drop in the inbox sooner or later.
Meanwhile, we counted 54 motorcycle lots of which 15 were unsold. The top selling item was the bike immediately above which is Lot 247, a 1972 Honda CB500R (650cc) racer that made £67,994 (€ 88,333). It's a confusing name because this CB500 is indeed 650cc. The engine dimensions are 64mm x 50.6mm. It produces a claimed 80bhp at 10,700 rpm.
Honda built two of these machines to compete in the All Japanese Championships. This example is the more highly developed of the pair and was created by the Research & Development department in Saitama (as opposed to Honda's racing department (RSC).
Moving on, this beautiful red 1928 Indian 101 Scout (Lot 235, image immediately above) sold for £19,474 (€25,300) which strikes us as pretty good value when compared to the asking (and selling) prices of numerous arguably lesser motorcycles. And take note that this isn't the more usual 600cc 101 Scout. This is the later 750cc (45 cubic-inch) variant that was introduced in 1927. Features include detachable cylinder heads, helical gear primary drive, and Indian's legendary indestructibility.
The 42-degree V-twin sidevalve produces around 22hp. It's good for maybe 75mph (with decent fuel and a favourable wind). And it was a very stable bike too thanks to its long wheelbase, hence its popularity with tourers, racers and carnival riders alike. The weight was 375lbs. The bike was later supplied with a front brake (as shown on this example). The list price when new was around $300.
Coincidentally, the (immediately) above 1930 737cc (45-cubic inch) Excelsior Super X has a history that's tightly intertwined with the rival 101 Indian Scout. The Super X arrived in 1925. It was intended to challenge Indian's market position, with particular regard to the Scout. The IOE (inlet-over-exhaust) engined Super X borrowed a few features from Excelsior's larger 1,000cc (61-cubic inch) stablemate, but was extensively reworked as a unit construction motor with a helically-geared primary drive (similar to the Indian Scout).
During its first years of production (as with the Indian Scout) there was no front brake. It was rear brake and engine-braking only. And, of course, boot soles. But within two years, Excelsior had matched Indian's stopping power and a front brake was added. The Super X was, however, heavier than the Indian Scout, but was still good for around 65mph. The price new was $325, give or take a few cents.
This example (Lot 232) was sold by Bonhams for £19,474 (€ 25,300)—the same price as the Indian. So after all these years, the two rivals are still neck and neck, which is perfectly appropriate.
Excelsior: The company
Excelsior was founded in 1907. Ignaz Schwinn (1860-1948) acquired the firm in 1911. In 1917, he also bought Henderson from founding brothers Tom and William. Excelsior was one of the American "big three" which included Harley-Davidson and Indian. Schwinn had been heavily involved in the manufacture of bicycles (Arnold, Schwinn & Co), and he brought much experience and know-how to Excelsior including improved manufacturing methods and technology.
As with most motorcycle manufacturers of the age, Excelsior began with singles. By 1910, the firm's first V-twin appeared. With the acquisition of Henderson, Excelsior now had an inline four configuration to add to its portfolio.
Henderson, note, had from the start favoured an inline four arrangement. The firm's bikes were fast and reliable, but under the management of Tom and William, partly through being under-financed, the business had been fraught with problems. However, Schwinn (image right) took up the challenge and injected new life (and cash) into the business and effectively kept the Henderson concept rolling for another decade or so.
The Excelsior-Henderson fours and the Super X brand struggled through the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and for two more years of the depression. But by 1931, Ignaz Scwinn abruptly called it a day. He'd feared even darker times ahead, and he chose to cut his losses and concentrate on more profitable ventures. The Excelsior, Henderson and Super X brands were at once defunct.
Other bikes sold at the Grand Palais include a Ducati 450 Scrambler at £7,966 (€10,350) and a Gilera Saturno at £7,081 (€ 9,200). However, the 1934 Ariel Square 4 (main image on this page) didn't sell.
— Big End
▲ Frank Finlay (left) with Susan Penhaligon in the TV drama series Bouquet of Barbed Wire. And Frank Finlay (right) as Casanova. In their day, both shows shocked and tantalized smut-hungry British TV audiences. But there was much more to Frank Finlay than a bit of titillation...
Classic British theatre and film actor Frank Finlay has died aged 89. He was most famous for playing Casanova in the sensational 1971 British TV series of the same name, and for his role as the tormented patriarch in the 1976 TV series Bouquet of Barbed Wire.
Both productions were highly controversial and sent the legendary Clean Up TV campaigner, Mary Whitehouse, into more than one a tailspin. Casanova was "shocking" for its obvious sexual themes and bedroom shenanigans that were broadcast on prime time TV (it's said that many of the sex scenes involved real London prostitutes; the only women who were prepared to do exactly what was asked of them). Bouquet of Barbed Wire achieved notoriety for its tortuous and melodramatic dysfunctional family themes that included domestic violence and (implied) incest.
But there was much more than that to Frank Finlay. He was primarily a repertory theatre actor who took on a variety of roles from Shakespeare to Osborne to Miller to Potter. He worked with the likes of luminaries that included Joan Plowright, Laurence Olivier, Rex Harrison, Albert Finney, Billie Whitelaw, Michael York, Richard Chamberlain, Oliver Reed, and Michael Caine.
▲ Frank Finlay (left) and Albert Finney (right) in the 1971 movie Gumshoe. Set in Liverpool, it's a wry noir-ish comedy-drama about an unlikely private eye (and bingo caller) involved in gun running, illegal drugs and a dodgy brother. Look out for it. It's an oft-overlooked British gem.
The characters he played included Sancho Panza, Iago, Porthos, Jacob Marley, Inspector Lestrade and Adolf Hitler. He also turned up once or twice in the British TV crime series Prime Suspect playing opposite Helen Mirren.
Always cool, commanding and cultured, he was a dependable leading man and excellent in whatever supporting role he took. Other thespians, directors and producers liked Finlay for his sheer professionalism. Audiences liked him at first for his slight air of menace and his obvious stage and screen presence. But later, after Casanova and Bouquet of Barbed Wire, he found himself viewed as a sex symbol. As a consequence, for the following decade or so that image became something of an albatross that he was not always comfortable with.
Frank Finlay was born in Farnworth, Lancashire. His roots were humble. His father worked in a battery factory. Frank Finlay worked as a butcher's boy and a grocer's assistant. He began his acting career as a 14 year old amateur. In 1954 he took on his first professional role in Guildford, Surrey, then moved around the country with theatre companies to Hammersmith, London, and to Coventry, Warwickshire (now West Midlands).
He was never big on the big screen. But then, for Frank Finlay his first love was the theatre. The TV roles were, no doubt, mostly taken to help pay the bills. That said, he was pretty much always in work, and always in demand.
Finlay was a devout Catholic and was appointed CBE in 1984. He married once and fathered two sons a daughter. He is survived by one son and a daughter.
Okay, here's the pitch. Last December (2015) we had a few T-shirts printed bearing much the same copy as the T-shirt design immediately above. It was just a whimsical thing really (see Sump December 2015). We had some spare print capacity, so to speak, so we took advantage of it. We were pleasantly surprised when the T-shirts sold so quickly. Well, most sizes anyway (we've got one 2XL left). And then we started to get enquiries asking for more of the same. So we obliged.
But this time, we wanted to make 'em a little more snazzy or arty or whatever you prefer to call it, and that's where we're at now. We wanted to make these tees even better than before. So we had them lovingly silk-screened by elves, fondly printed on the best cotton tee stock that we could find, and delivered by woodland nymphs.
And because they cost a little more to produce, we've raised the price a little. The tees are £15.99 plus postage and packing, which is still pretty good for limited run shirts such as these. They're all black, pre-shrunk, 100% cotton with double-stitched shoulders, neck and sleeves. Therefore they should wear very well and will age better than you or us. And maybe the irritating people in your life will read your message and stay clean outa your way.
That said, these shirts ain't supposed to be taken too seriously. They're just something grumpy gits like us might wear whenever we're in another mizzy, which lately is pretty much most of the time.
If you want an Old Biker Mantra T-shirt, click one of the links around here (we've put 'em everywhere). We figure that the shirts will sell fairly quickly, so make your play and reach for your readies while stocks last (and all that high-pressure salesmen stuff).
— Big End
The British government is looking for a buyer for robes and a dagger once owned by legendary military liaison officer, diplomat, and archaeologist T E Lawrence (1888 - 1935). Famed among bikers for his love of Brough Superior (and Triumph) motorcycles, and equally famous for the fate that befell him following a high speed crash in Dorset, Lord Lawrence has become an increasingly mythologised figure who helped champion the Arab Revolt of 1916 - 1918 against the Ottoman Turkish Empire.
The robes and dagger as shown in the image immediately above and immediately below were sold to a "foreign buyer" last year. The price was £122,500 for the dagger and £12,500 for the robes. However, to prevent this "irreplaceable cultural loss to the British people", HM Government put a temporary block on the export. The hope was that a British buyer would step forward and match the asking price, thereby keeping the near sacred objects on home turf.
Some, however, might wonder what all the fuss is about. The truth of Lord Thomas Edward Lawrence is hopelessly lost among the claims and counterclaims as related in the numerous biographies. He did this. He did that. He led this amazing charge on camels. He did no such thing. He was raped by the Turks. No, he wasn't. He was a hero. He was a fool. He was a spy. He was a legend. He was a traitor. Do you want a punch in the gob?
Granted, he was an interesting character (and we saw his movie which had a great film score). And it's clear he was also a man of extremes, and a tragically flawed one. He lived fast and died fast (at age 46). He was certainly a great self-publicist, and others sensationalised his life to a British public ever hungry, and even desperate, for new heroes. And possibly anti-heroes. But most of all he was simply a divisive figure (as all the really interesting people are).
Many in the British establishment called him self-serving, irresponsible, reckless, a fantasist, and a masochist. Nevertheless, his awards included: the Companion of the Order of the Bath, the Distinguished Service Order; the Chevalier de la Légion d'Honneur; and the Croix de Guerre.
As much as we love English heritage and hate to see treasured national items disappearing overseas, you have to wonder whether this particular knife and piece of Edwardian cloth is actually worth as much as the government thinks it is. It's been on offer for months, and the asking price is merely small change for any of the thousands of British multi-millionaires and billionaires with money to burn. And no one has yet stumped up the dosh.
The export block runs until April 1st 2016 (an appropriate date). It could be extended. But it seems wiser and fairer to have done with it all and move on to more worthwhile campaigns.
— Sam 7
DeLorean cars could be back in production soon. Sounds unlikely, but raking over the coals of the past is the future for many, if not most, automotive firms, and the DeLorean coals are still smouldering.
Founder John Zachary DeLorean (image immediately above) died in 2005 aged 80. Born in Detroit, Michigan, in his younger years he became a General Motors engineer and company exec. He was quickly considered something of a maverick, but he was possessed of many ideas, commanded a huge salary, enjoyed a jet-setting lifestyle and had a lot of friends in the right (and wrong) places. Frequently he clashed with other GM executives and eschewed corporate orthodoxy whilst doggedly pursuing his own ideals and agendas. But in doing so, he helped re-launch the GM Pontiac brand at a point where the marque was losing identity and momentum, and many people credit him as the creator of the first American muscle car.
That would be the Pontiac GTO. He was also responsible for the Pontiac Firebird, the Chevy Vega and, to a lesser extent, the Chevrolet Nova.
In 1973, aged 48, John DeLorean left General Motors to start DMC; the DeLorean Motor Company. But the first and only model, the DMC-12, didn't appear until 1981. It was powered by a Renault-built V6 engine designed and championed jointly by Volvo, Renault and Peugeot. Almost one million of these units were manufactured.
The DeLorean styling was handled by Giorgetto Giugiaro of Italdesign. The body panels were (famously) punched out of stainless steel and were given that classic brushed finish. Lotus handled the chassis. The gull wing doors, although not original, caught the public eye. And the cars were assembled in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland with production backed by a Northern Ireland Development Agency grant of around £100 million.
At that time, Northern Ireland's political troubles were taking their toll leading to huge unemployment and depressed social prospects. The notion of a new car company based in the area, with all the jobs it would create coupled with the obvious industrial prestige, was exactly the carrot needed to set the government donkeys running.
Production, however, was fraught with problems. There were technical issues leading to delays. There were management screw ups, a falling market, budget overruns, and disappointing critical reviews of the first cars. The DMC-12s were also more expensive than most rival sports cars (the "12", take note, was intended to reflect the US price tag of $12,000. But by the time the cars were ready, you could double that. And more).
Worse still, the performance was more "adequate" than "exhilarating", and the production delays meant that the styling was dated by the time the first vehicles hit the streets. But it was at least a generous sized car. John DeLorean was six feet four inches tall, and he was said to be comfortable inside any of his creations. The 2.8 litre engine was available with a 5-speed manual transmission or a 3-speed automatic.
Early in 1982, around 7,000 DeLoreans had been built of which only 2000 or so had been sold. The company collapsed and went into receivership, but another 2,000 vehicles were later built. The entire production run had lasted just 21 months. It was all a long way short of the 30,000 cars per annum that John DeLorean had envisaged. And it was all a huge industrial disappointment for the people of Northern Ireland and for the UK government bean counters.
That same year, John DeLorean was entrapped by the FBI and the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration). He was viewed as someone in a weak financial position and was therefore a likely candidate, and a "sting" operation was set up. DeLorean was videoed agreeing to a cocaine trafficking deal, and he was prosecuted. But was General Motors behind any or all of this? And who stood to gain from DeLorean's downfall Your guess is as good as ours.
However, he "beat the rap" arguing that the FBI and the DEA had acted illegally, and the judge agreed. Nevertheless, his reputation was wrecked. His business had moved beyond receivership into bankruptcy. His credibility was destroyed. He was finished. And it's worth mentioning that John DeLorean had no criminal convictions, neither before nor after the FBI/DEA debacle.
He subsequently fought numerous law suits related to his personal debts, and he became a divisive figure who was admired and respected, and despised and ridiculed in perhaps equal measure. Certainly, the general public knew little or nothing about the real man and the pressures and problems he faced. He was simply John DeLorean, the crook, the man who had swindled £100 million from the British government and dealt in drugs. And there's certainly a smoking gun there, but it's not always clear who's holding it. Donald Trump now has a golf course on what was once the DeLorean Estate.
The new DeLorean cars are to be built by the current owners of the DeLorean Motor Company name and brand who have large stocks of original, unused Delorean components including complete body shells. These stocks are said to represent around 99 percent of the parts needed to get the wheels rolling.
Based in Texas, USA, the CEO is Stephen Wynne who described this move as a "game changer". But what exactly changed?
Well, US law changed recently. That's what. Until now, all vehicles manufactured in the USA had to meet current safety standards which have moved on a long way over the past three or four decades. However, if less than 325 cars are built annually, the safety regs now won't apply. So you can forget about crumple zones and modern impact absorbing bumpers, and you can instead crash and burn in the old-fashioned way.
Wynne's DeLorean outfit hopes to have the first new vehicles ready by 2017. The unit cost is expected to be around $100,000. However, there are still plenty of original DeLoreans on the market at "affordable" prices (£15,000 - £35,000) to satisfy general demand, which makes it hard to see why many folk would spend $100,000 on a new one—especially when the current company sees "no reason to change anything".
After the mess that poor old John DeLorean got himself into, it seems only appropriate that this venture should fall flat on its face, perhaps with an FBI/DEA entrapment bust thrown in. But instead, it would be nice to see something good and profitable come out of one of the less happy chapters in the World Book of Motoring.