Wheeler Dealers car takes pride of place in Southbourne firm's showroom

A car from the television show Wheeler Dealers has taken pride of place in a Southbourne showroom.

Friday, 8th December 2017, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 8:09 am
Martin Webb, right, and Ray Waller, left, of Comet Classics in Southbourne take possession of the Team Ant replica racing car from its builder Darren Collins, centre. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Ray Waller and Martin Webb bought the Classic Rumble Team Ant car for Comet Classics, on Southbourne Industrial Estate.

The purchase at auction brought the vehicle home, in a sense, as Southbourne classic car enthusiast Darren Collins was part of Team Ant and made the bespoke exhaust.

Wheeler Dealers, on the Discovery Channel, is one of the most successful motoring shows on the planet.

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Experienced car dealer Mike Brewer buys classic cars with money-making potential and takes them back to his workshop for mechanic Ant Anstead to repair and restore, before selling for a profit.

For the Classic Rumble, Lancaster Insurance challenged the stars of the show to restore or build a car over six months to raise money for charity, culminating in an auction at the Classic Motor Show in November.

Ant and his team built an incredible 1950s-inspired Grand Prix racer from scratch for Harrison’s Fund, a charity fighting duchenne muscular dystrophy, while Mike and his team restored a 1989 Ford Escort XR3i to benefit the Marie Crawford Boyd Foundation.

Darren, who is technical manager at Simer Environmental Services in Waterlooville, has previously worked on theatre and film productions and became involved through his links with the Rolls-Royce Enthusiasts’ Club.

When he went up to the NEC Birmingham for the auction, he had no idea the Team Ant car could end up back in his home village. Even when Ray and Martin secured the lot, he still did not realise the connection.

Darren explained: ‘I went up for the weekend as I wanted to be there for the auction. They came over to Mike Brewer and Ant and introduced themselves. We were just chatting and it turned out they came from Southbourne.

‘You could have knocked me over with a feather. It is strange how these things come full circle.

‘They sell petrol pumps and memorabilia. The car fits great as a showpiece and makes for a nice display. It is strange how these things can happen.’

Comet Classics started from the two friends’ enthusiasm for classic and vintage motorcycles, cars and petrol pumps. Martin said: ‘It started as a hobby and has grown into a full-blown international business shipping bikes and cars all over the globe.

‘This being a one-off really interested us and the money was going to charity. After joking that we would buy it, we went to the auction and did end up doing so.’

The car can compete in hill climbs, sprint events and as a track day car, so Mike and Ray may fire it up in the new year for a shakedown at Goodwood.