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The factory prototype, BMC Competitions Department 1959 BMC 5-Ton Race Transporter Coachwork by Marshall's of Cambridge Registration no. YFO 898 Chassis no. 5KCFECDE 389926

Estimate: £80,000 - £100,000
Lot 148
1959 BMC 5-Ton Race Transporter
Coachwork by Marshall's of Cambridge
Goodwood Revival|10 September 2016, 14:00 BST|Chichester, Goodwood

The factory prototype, BMC Competitions Department
1959 BMC 5-Ton Race Transporter
Coachwork by Marshall's of Cambridge

Registration no. YFO 898
Chassis no. 5KCFECDE 389926

*Originally one of circa 20 Service Schools
*Used by BMC's Competitions Department
*Converted to factory race transporter specification
*Recently refurbished


Manufactured in 1959, this BMC 5-ton PSV chassis was one of approximately 20 commissioned by the company's management to serve as mobile Service Schools, which travelled around the dealership network training mechanics in the procedures required to maintain the newly introduced, front-wheel-drive Mini. Designed by Pinin Farina and built by Marshall's of Cambridge with all-aluminium coachwork, they were equipped to a very high specification. Originally registered 'BMC 25', this example is the prototype of the series and almost certainly the only survivor of the first six, which had more rounded styling than subsequent examples. It was later loaned to BMC's Abingdon-based Competitions Department and used by them in Australia, the visit being recorded on video. Eventually sold to Birmingham University for the nominal sum of £1.00, 'BMC 25' ended up as a coach company's mobile booking office.

The previous owner, a collector and racer of historic BMC competition cars, discovered the vehicle in a field where it had lain for ten years. Surprisingly, it moved out of the field under its own power; not only that, but the chassis and panelling were found to be sound. Not content merely with a restoration, the vendor wanted to rebuild the vehicle in the style of 'BMC 34', the famous Competitions Department race transporter, which had an extended rear end enabling it to accommodate two Mini Coopers. Sadly, 'BMC 34' no longer exists, having been destroyed by arsonists in the 1990s.

To assist with conversion, the vendor recruited Bromsgrove-based lorry engineer and commercial body builder, Gordon Chance. As there were no plans in existence, the reconstruction used photographs of the original. By an amazing stroke of good luck, a supply of the correctly profiled rubber strip fitted to the long rubbing strakes was located; it was the last 200 feet the manufacturer had in stock and all but one foot was used.

The transporter is powered by a BMC 5.1-litre six-cylinder diesel engine, which drives via a five-speed non-synchromesh manual gearbox and two-speed rear axle. The cylinder head was rebuilt and the engine serviced as part of the restoration.

Interviewed for an article about 'BMC 25', published in Classic Cars' July 2004 edition (copy on file), BMC Competitions Department employee Stan Bamford recalled that the BMC transporter he drove was faster than its continental HGV brethren: 'It was beautiful, marvellous. We'd show all the French and Italians a clean pair of heels. It went up hills quicker than they could look at them.' The transporter's motorway cruising speed was estimated at 60mph.

The current vendor purchased the transporter at Bonhams' sale at the Goodwood Revival meeting in September 2014 (Lot 306). The vehicle was then despatched to Woolmer Classic Engineering Ltd in Roothams Green, Bedfordshire to have various remedial works carried out (bill on file). These included replacing the electrical wiring at the front of the vehicle with a new hand-made loom; returning switches to original specification; repairing defective instruments; removing, refurbishing, repainting, and refitting the dashboard; and improving the fit of the engine cover to reduce noise, heat, and fumes in the passenger compartment.

Painted in correct BMC Competitions Department livery, this historic ex-works BMC 5-tonner is running and driving very well, the ultimate toy.

Saleroom notices

Please note transport charges for this lot will be at quoted rates for commercial/abnormal sized vehicles.

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  • 9 September 2016, 09:00 - 17:00 BST

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