For sale: neglected motoring relics

In their heyday they were classic British cars that would have tootled through quiet country lanes in the carefree motoring era of the 1920s and 30s.But their sad demise saw moss carpeting once-shiny sleek wings, trees sprouting up through shattered chassis, and their roofs topped with old mattresses, furniture and tumbledown sheds.

In their heyday they were classic British cars that would have tootled through quiet country lanes in the carefree motoring era of the 1920s and 30s.

But their sad demise saw moss carpeting once-shiny sleek wings, trees sprouting up through shattered chassis, and their roofs topped with old mattresses, furniture and tumbledown sheds.

However their rusting place will not be their final resting place after the collection was rescued by Aylsham auctioneers in a delicate recovery mission.

Now the 20 hulks and remnants will be sold at prices expected to range from �200 to �4,000 at an auction in April - where buyers are expected to snap them up for spares or restoration to their former glory.


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They belonged to James Blanch, a retired wheelwright who moved from London to a forge south of Norwich in the 1950s, bringing many of his beloved vehicles with him.

When he died, Keys auctioneers were told there were a few old cars on the barnyard property.

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But vehicle valuation expert Guy Snelling was stunned by what he discovered as he hacked his way through the undergrowth and prised open a series of ramshackle outbuildings and chicken sheds.

Under a cloak of weeds, bushes, cobwebs, and corrugated iron were the dilapidated remains of some classic marques from their time.

They included a handful of Singers, a Lea Francis, two Swifts, a couple of Riley Monacos, a 1930 Morris Minor, a Riley Lynx, a Willys Overland, an Austin 7, a 1920s four-door Austin open tourer and a Morris commercial vehicle - along with the chassis and running gear of a 20hp Sunbeam.

Some of the cars are more than 80 years old and were found in six buildings, including 12 cars jammed bumper-to-bumper in one crumbling chicken shed.

The buildings and grounds were in such a poor condition that it took a team of up to eight people two weeks to clear the site and catalogue all the vehicles. Some of the cars had wheels missing and had to be gently removed with machinery to be examined and identified.

'It was a real mission, and very exciting,' said Mr Snelling. 'It was a truly remarkable man who used to live there. It would be nice to look at this as if he has saved all these cars for the next generation. Most of them can be restored so it's a case of how ambitious people are feeling.'

The sale will be on Saturday April 4 at Keys' Aylsham saleyard. More information from Keys on 01263 733195 or at www.keys24.com

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