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The Story of a Vanguard 1A Estate
Its a little late for your military month I felt my car deserved a mention. It was never owned by the military but must have spent a lot of its life on military bases. Its first owner was Lieutenant-
For a senior military man a Vanguard would have been a very sensible purchase from the point of view of servicing facilities on the base. I have been told that the military had hundreds of them, army ,navy and air force. I once entered the Commercial Vehicle Show at Gaydon, formerly RAF Gaydon and a former airman told me that there were hundreds stationed there. Sadly only a handful of military Vanguards now survive and when some years ago a friend advised me that the Military Vehicle Trust magazine was appealing for military Vanguard owners to contact them mine was the only reply.
The car was first sold by Wadham Bros. of Winchester and Lt.-
The car was sold in January 1958 to a Mr. Philip Day in Cosham near Portsmouth, to a Mr. James Millar in West Leigh, Hants. in May 1963,in September 1963 to Mr. Ralph Selby of Hayling Island and finally the log book shows a sale in May 1965 to Grady's Garage, Hayling Island where the trail goes cold though I am told that it then ended up as a flower car for a firm of undertakers on the Isle of Wight where after its career ended in the late 60s it remained in store at their premisies till discovered in the early 90s. It then ended up with Cropredy Motors near Banbury and finally with a dealer John Payne from Rugby who sold it to me. I then had to reclaim the registration number from the DVLA with Roger Morris' help as I wished to retain its original aluminium numberplates which are far more sturdy than modern replicas.
It didn't look too bad as a barn find when featured in 1991 in the old Practical Classics Magazine but needed a full body off restoration which continued till its debut at the Vanguard 50th celebrations in 1997. Since then it has more than proved its worth as a hack for the Club taking a vast amount of equipment to Shows, most recently to the NEC Classic Motor Show this month where it was also on. display.
Further to my article and Tom Dolby's feature on his phase 1 estate I omitted to mention that my estate also had a "Dance With A Stranger" connection in that when the BBC did a drama documentary about Ruth Ellis in 1999 Tom's car, which I believe he did not then own, was off the road. They were desperate and via June and Roy Ward their agency approached me for the use of mine in their film. It was tailored down to London for its performance. I well recall Ruth Ellis thumping the side of it outside a pub at one point in the programme though there was no
damage. June later told me that she and Roy had kept a careful eye on it throughout the filming as their Renown also featured in the background. I wonder if the actual car of Ruth Ellis' victim David Blakeley, the racing driver, was a phase 1 or 1A estate? About a year later my car also featured in the BBC Midlands soap "Doctors" in an episode where Dora Bryan was a guest star and played its elderly owner at risk of being fleeced by a con man played by Ken Jones, who was better known as Ronnie Barker's short fat sidekick in "Porridge."