Wheeler Dealer car takes pride of place
A car from the television show Wheeler Dealers has taken pride of place in a Southbourne showroom.
Ray Waller and Martin Webb bought the Classic Rumble Team Ant car for Comet Classics, on Southbourne Industrial Estate.The purchase at auction brought the vehicle home, in a sense, as Southbourne classic car enthusiast Darren Collins was part of Team Ant and made the bespoke exhaust.Wheeler Dealers, on the Discovery Channel, is one of the most successful motoring shows on the planet.Experienced car dealer Mike Brewer buys classic cars with money-making potential and takes them back to his workshop in Los Angeles for mechanic Ant Anstead to repair and restore, before selling for a profit.For the Classic Rumble, Lancaster Insurance challenged the stars of the show to restore or build a car over six months to raise money for charity, culminating in an auction at the Classic Motor Show in November. Ant and his team built an incredible 1950s-inspired Grand Prix racer from scratch for Harrison’s Fund, a charity fighting duchenne muscular dystrophy, while Mike and his team restored a 1989 Ford Escort XR3i to benefit the Marie Crawford Boyd Foundation. Darren, who is technical manager at Simer Environmental Services in Waterlooville, has previously worked on theatre and film productions and became involved in this project after meeting Ant at the NEC last year.When he went up to the NEC Birmingham for the auction, he had no idea the Team Ant car could end up back in his home village. Even when Ray and Martin secured the lot, he still did not realise the connection.Darren explained: "I went up for the weekend as I wanted to be there for the auction. They came over to Mike Brewer and Ant and introduced themselves. We were just chatting and it turned out they came from Southbourne."You could have knocked me over with a feather. It is strange how these things come full circle. "They sell petrol pumps and memorabilia. The car fits great as a showpiece and makes for a nice display. It is strange how these things can happen."
Comet Classics started from the two friend's enthusiasm for classic and vintage motorcycles, cars and petrol pumps.Martin said: "It started as a hobby and has grown into a full-blown international business shipping bikes and cars all over the globe. "We buy a lot of unusual, rare classic motorcycles and classic cars and are the headline sponsor of Pride of Ownership at the classic car show."We had been following the build-off between the two cars and because Mike is a personal friend, we were out for dinner the night before the auction."Ant explained about the build of the car, which excited us because the quality of the build and the overall look of the car fitted with the genre of vehicle we buy."This being a one-off really interested us and the money was going to charity. After joking that we would buy it, we went to the auction and did end up doing so."The car is already booked for the London Classic Car Show in February. It is can also compete in hill climbs, sprint events and as a track day car, so Mike and Ray may also fire it up in the new year for a shakedown at Goodwood. Mike said it was a surprise to find out the exhaust was made just 100 yards around the corner."It was a fitting ending. The car was obviously meant to end up back in Southbourne."