A 1988 Ford Transit Mark 3 converted into a covert surveillance vehicle has achieved what is believed to be a record price for that model at auction.
Sold by Manheim for £10,300 at its dedicated van auction centre in Shepshed, Leicestershire, the Transit was previously registered at a number of locations that are related to HMRC but several specialists believe the vehicle may have been operated by the Security Services due to its specification, including an encrypted Cougar radio system.
The vendor of the ‘Spy Van’ was James Davis, director of commercial vehicles at Manheim. He purchased the 48,000-mile van in 2014, with the aim of restoring it as closely as possible to its original specification. The work was carried out by C Walton Ltd in Bruntingthorpe, Leicestershire, and included fitting the van out with 30-year old surveillance equipment. The ‘Spy Van’ has a Facebook page, under the same name, that tracked progress of the project throughout.
James Davis commented: “The Spy Van project has been an amazing journey. 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 other donations, the total we’ve raised stands at nearly £13,000.”
The winning bid was from Mark Scott of Premier Van Sales who has a personal collection of special vans.
Scott said: “I really liked the approach to the restoration 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.”