NOW here’s a teaser for you: how can a 31-year-old car be brand spanking new – in showroom order, with no number plates and only delivery mileage on the clock?
In fact, the car in point is a bright red 1981 Ford Cortina GL Mark V, and it was the very last Cortina to leave Ford’s Dagenham plant before production switched to the Sierra.
It was promptly snapped up by Midlands-based millionaire TC Harrison, who owned a number of Ford dealerships and was a celebrated collector of last-of-the-line models.
As a spanking new 2.0-litre model, the car would have cost around £5,500 at the time. It was then dry-stored for 23 years until the owner’s death in 2005, when it was bought by Scotsman Frank Sheach for £9,995.
Despite its venerable age, this unique ‘brand new’ Cortina has never been driven on a public road, and Mr Sheach (47) has only ever allowed it out of locked storage on the back of a trailer for rare appearances at classic car shows.
Now, though, he has decided to auction it off and the car’s unusual provenance could spark a bidding war among fanatical collectors of old Fords. He says: “I don’t think there will be another one in this condition. There’s only delivery mileage on the clock and it’s brand new.
“Initially I bought it to drive it. I had already done up another Cortina as a hobby and I have always liked them. They were the type of cars I worked on when I did my engineering apprenticeship so I always had a soft spot for them.
“Because of its unique history, I always resisted driving it. I used to take it to car rallies on the back of a trailer pulled by my other Cortina. But there is only so long you can keep doing that, so I have decided to sell up and give someone else the pleasure of owning this piece of Britain’s motoring history.”
Mr Sheach, who is chief engineer for National Express in Dundee, adds: “It doesn’t even have a number plate. The plate just says Cortina. Anybody who buys it can choose their own number if they want to register it.”
When he originally bought the car, he left the DVLA bewildered when he tried to register it for use. “I asked them what number it would get and they didn’t know. They had never been asked about the first registration of such an old car before and it completely flummoxed them.
“Eventually somebody said there was no reason why it could not be given the latest number available, or it could be given a number that would have been generated on the computer from 1981, which would make it a Y-reg.”
He has no idea what the car would be worth nowadays and is still considering the best way to auction it.
Dave Richards, editor of Classic Car Weekly magazine, says: “It is very exciting to see a Ford from the Harrison collection come on to the market and still in such good condition, although anyone who wants to drive it will have to spend a bit of money making it roadworthy. It is possible Mr Sheach only manages to get back what he paid for the car but Ford collectors can be fanatical and if two of them decide they really want it then the sky’s the limit.”
More than 2,600,000 Ford Cortinas were sold in Britain in the 20 years since its launch in 1962, making it the third most popular car ever sold in the UK.