Wild Rover: Scots cop car sets world record at auction

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A “jam sandwich” police car from the Life on Mars era has set a world record at auction.

The 30-year-old former Grampian Police traffic car sold for £9,750, the highest price ever paid for a Rover SD1.

The 3.5 litre V8 – capable of 135mph in its heyday – was bought by the force in 1985 to catch speeding Aberdeen oil executives in their sports cars.

The car was nicknamed "the beast" by former police drivers
The car was nicknamed “the beast” by former police drivers

 

The vehicle, nicknamed “The Beast” by police drivers, was snapped up at auction by the Grampian Transport Museum in Alford, Aberdeenshire.

It was restored to its former glory for Channel 4 series For The Love Of Cars, which follows Life on Mars actor Philip Glenister and a crew of mechanics as they hunt down and restore vintage classic cars.

The former high-speed pursuit motor received a full revamp with its Grampian Police livery, stop signs, sirens and blue lights lovingly restored.

The car, which was sold in Birmingham on Saturday, was expected to fetch £5,000 – £8,000.

Capable of 135mph, the car was bought by Grampian Police to keep up with speeding oil executives in their sports cars
Capable of 135mph, the car was bought by Grampian Police to keep up with speeding oil executives in their sports cars

 

Mike Ward, the curator of the Grampian Transport Museum, was “chuffed” to snap up the car.

He said: “We’ve been aware of this particular vehicle for some time now – it’s no stranger to our museum and in fact has appeared here before.

“When we found it was up for sale, it was always our intention to bring this rare example back home.

“It’s sure to be a fantastic addition to our collection, and we’ll also make sure it’s put to good use at our very popular Emergency Vehicle Rides session which takes place on April 10.”

The car was needed by police in the 80s to catch speeding yuppies in their luxury sports cars – paid for by Aberdeen’s oil boom.

Grampian Police paid £12,000 for the car, which today would translate to £30,600 today.

Larry Collins, left, from Essex, who owned the car for 11 years, together with Ant Anstead from the firm which rennovated the vehicle
Larry Collins, left, from Essex, who owned the car for 11 years, together with Ant Anstead from the firm which rennovated the vehicle

 

It still drives perfectly despite the approach of its 30th birthday later this year.

The Rover, which survived at least one crash whilst in police service, has also starred in TV programs such as Dalziel and Pascoe.

Ian Slorach, who was with Grampian Police from 1975 to 2006, spent much of his time behind the wheel of the hatchback.

He said: “I went down to watch the auction and it was great seeing the car restored to its former glory.

“To be honest I’m absolutely delighted that it went for that much. Seeing that car brought back some very enjoyable memories from my job at the time.”

The 57-year-old, who now works as a taxi driver in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, added: “I’m looking forward to seeing it at the museum. If the curator gives me the chance to have another go in it I’ll bite his hand off.”

Larry Collins, who lives in Purfleet, Essex, has owned the car for the last 11 years. He began his own restorations but ill health prevented him from completing them.

The beast in an Aberdeenshire field after leaving the road
The beast in an Aberdeenshire field after leaving the road

 

Mr Slorach described him as being “quite emotional” when the car was sold.

He said: “Larry realised that the car had been done up almost exactly as it was when it was a Grampian police car.

“He was proud of how much it had sold for – he didn’t want someone to get it for nothing after all his hard work.

“He wanted it to return ‘home’ and is glad that the museum now have it.”

Martyn Smith, events organiser at the museum, said: “We are chuffed to bring the car back home. It’s a vehicle of local importance and is great to be able to see it in the flesh.

“When we brought it back on a trailer yesterday a police car drove past and gave us a thumbs up – it’s good to know it’s still appreciated.”

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