E-reg Ford Transit spy van sells for more than £10,000 at auction

  • World record auction price for a Transit van
  • 1988 Transit Mk3 sale raises £10,300 for charity
  • No ordinary Ford – it’s a covert surveillance ‘spy van’

Auction prices for certain classic cars have gone through the roof in recent years – but even experts were stunned when Manheim auctioneers sold a 1988 Ford Transit for over £10,000 at its recent Shepshed sale.

While the Transit has plenty of fans, most would agree that’s a lot of money for a 29-year-old example of the hardly esteemed Mk3 variety. Regardless of the fact it’s covered just 48,000 miles.

Turns out there’s a bit more to this than immediately meets the eye…

What’s the story with the £10k Transit auction, then?

If you think this Transit looks rather unassuming that’s exactly the point – as early in life it was converted by a specialist company to operate as a covert surveillance vehicle.

Inside the Ford Transit spy van

That’s right, it’s a spy van.

And who doesn’t love a spy van?

Who was the Transit spy van built for?

Well, no-one’s copped to it officially, so to speak, but research into the van’s history shows it registered in a number of areas associated with Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

But before you start thinking ‘covert tax collection van’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it, don’t worry, because it might actually have been operated by the Security Services.

Inside the Ford Transit spy van

This theory is supported by a number of experts, on the basis that the kit on board is far closer to Security Service specification, including the encrypted Cougar radio system.

Who sold the Transit spy van?

The Transit was put up for auction by Manheim commercial vehicle director, James Davis, who acquired it in unrestored condition in 2014.

A full restoration was then carried out by C Walton Ltd – as documented on Facebook (search for ‘the spy van restoration man’) – with the aim of selling the finished article to raise funds for the Alzheimer’s Society, a charity extremely close to Davis’ following his father’s diagnosis with the disease.

Ford Transit spy van exterior

‘The spy van project has been an amazing journey,’ Davis said after the sale. ‘I decided to auction the van off in aid of the Alzheimer’s Society, with the entire sale price being donated to the charity.

‘Along with the other donations, the total we’ve raised stands at nearly £13,000. A huge thanks to everyone involved over the last couple of years, and of course to the winning bidder.’

If you’d like to make your own contribution to the fundraising effort, simply search for ‘Spy Van’ on the www.justgiving.com website.

Who bought the Transit spy van?

The winning bidder in question was Mark Scott of Premier Vans Sales, described as a loyal Manheim buyer and ‘a true enthusiast who has a personal collection of special vans.’

‘I really liked the approach to the restoration,’ Scott said, ‘and I followed it on Facebook from the start.

‘The posts from James about the deadly Alzheimer’s disease and his father touched me deeply, and I set my heart on buying the spy van to support the fundraising effort, which I’m very happy I did, as I’m over the moon to be its new owner.’

Congratulations to everyone involved.

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