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Motor Mouth articles 2012

Classic Rover takes Brian back in time

Pride and joy: Brian Chant and his 1948 Rover saloon

NOSTALGIA is a major component of any classic car fan and one of the area’s leading lights in the business cheerfully confesses to being awash with it.

Brian Chant, proprietor of Stalbridge-based Unicorn Motor Company and boss of the DVCA classic car auction business, has always enjoyed owning or competing in wonderful old cars, including Alvis, Aston Martin, Austin Healey and, less exotically, the Morris Minor.

But he’s always had a hankering to own a car similar to the one in which he passed his driving test as a 17-year-old back in 1961. “It was a 1946 Rover 14, a lovely car, and I have often thought I’d like to have one of my own,” he said.

Well, half a century on, Brian has finally realised his cherished ambition. “It’s not exactly the same but very similar,” he says. “I have bought a 1948 Rover 75 four-light sports saloon and it’s beautiful.”

In fact, it is quite a celebrity car as it is the actual one that was driven by actor Michael Kitchen’s character in the hit TV series ‘Foyles War’. It still bears the original registration number HAC 199.

The car has black coachwork with olive green leather interior and has undergone full restoration over recent years. Work includes a complete repaint, new leather work, carpets and re-headlining, as well as under-body work.

Brian has bought the Rover through a dealer acquaintance in Kent who was selling it on behalf of the owner. It set him back £10,500 and he reckons he’s got himself a bargain.

A lot of classic cars regularly pass through Brian’s hands, particularly at the auctions he holds at the Gartell light railway site at Yenston, so will he be selling it on?

“No chance,” he says. “I shall definitely keep it – it will be my Sunday afternoon car, a little indulgence. I’ve got the trilby hat and now I’ve got the car.”

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