Update since this article was first published the vehicle has been sold at Auction The hammer price was £55,000 meaning that after the premium was added the buyer paid £63,250.
Completely restored to its original specification in the early 1970s a 1914 Ford Model T Motor Caravan said to be the oldest known example in the world is about to go under the hammer with Bonhams. The guide price has been set between 20 and 30 thousand pounds.
The sale is due to take place at the Beaulieu Sale Collectors’ Motor Cars and Automobilia auction at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu on 10th September 2022, at 15:00 BST
This unique vehicle was built in 1914, just before the outbreak of the First World War, for a member of the Bentall family, founders of the eponymous British department store chain.
It is based on a Ford Model T chassis, extended and strengthened by Baico, (British American Imports Company) while the caravan body was built by Dunton of Reading, a company known for building traditional travellers’ caravans.
It is believed that the vehicle was sold in the 1920s and subsequently abandoned before being discovered derelict in Shepperton and restored in the 1970s by Mr Leo Smith with the help of his friend, Mr Robin Tanner, a cabinet maker.
Amazingly, more than 95% of the original body timbers were found to be reusable. After some four years work, the restoration was finished and the vehicle was entered in the 1976 HCVC London-Brighton Run, winning seven awards including the Concours. Since then, ‘CR 4314’ has taken part in many in more London-Brighton Runs.
In 1986 it was displayed at the Camping, Caravan and Holiday Show at Earls Court. It has participated in various other rallies and historic vehicle shows and been featured on television with Royal visitors in attendance.
Its all-timber body means that the caravan is very well insulated, while the floor is polished pine. External storage lockers are located beneath the floor at either side and at the rear.
There are green velvet curtains to the windows, which can be drawn across the cab to ensure total privacy. The driver/passenger seat is a deep-buttoned leather bench with integral storage box, which can be turned around to serve as two additional seats in the living quarters.
There are four berths in the living area, while behind the cab on the offside is a wood-burning stove that provides all heating and cooking facilities. A Welsh dresser-style piece of furniture provides ample additional interior storage space.
In 1987, ‘CR 4134’ featured in a lengthy article in Which Motorcaravan magazine (December issue,). Their tester Bill Taylor was clearly impressed: “The quality of material and workmanship is superb in every way and the result of the restoration is a pleasing and comfortable motorcaravan, albeit that it is achieved by different means. However, I do not know of a modern design that provides such a volume of storage space.”
This unique and charming vehicle comes with all its interior ornaments, brass lamps, pots and pans, pictures, and antique memorabilia. It also comes with external lamps, a fuel can, spare wheel, spare spark plus, etc.
The 1914 Model T is likely to sell in the region of £30,000 says Bonhams who add “Interested parties should note that at the time of cataloguing the current UK V5C registration document has not been found, and the Caravan is offered with an old green style logbook and is sold on bill of sale.”