Philip Glenister: Five classic cars to save from the scrapheap

"I'm no petrolhead, I just like the aesthetics of cars"

Philip Glenister chooses five classic cars to save from the scrapheap – but how much are they worth?


1972 Ford Escort Mexico MK1

Bought for £9,000

Estimatdd auction price £13—15,000

When I was a kid, my dad had one of these, so it’s very close to my heart. This Mexico version of the Mk1 Escort was developed for the 1970 London to Mexico World Cup Rally. So it’s a high performance rally version of the everyday family car and they’re very rare.

We bought it from a guy in London who’d had it for two decades but we completely rebuilt it. It’s got the upgraded Harris engine in it so it’s incredibly fast and just brilliant to drive. It really does change your personality when you get behind the wheel. I’m ashamed to say when I took it for a spin, I drove it like I’d nicked it. I ended up doing handbrake turns on an industrial estate. So at least if the career goes pear-shaped, I know I can become a getaway driver!

The whole ethos of the “Mexico” scene is that it’s all about being a boy racer. It’s just made for doing doughnut spins in. This is the original colour, too. It’s called “Sebring red” and it’s
in keeping with the car’s personality — loud
 and lairy. Without a doubt my favourite
 of all the cars to drive, and the one I’d go for if I was a buyer.

1981 Delorean DMC-12

Bought for £23,000

Estimated auction price £18—22,000

Most people know the DeLorean as the time-travelling machine from the Back to the Future films but I found the whole story behind it fascinating. Built in Belfast in 1981, it became very politicised because of the amount of money the government of the day pumped into John DeLorean’s ill-fated venture.

We bought this one from a lady in Ascot whose husband acquired it. He’d driven Volvos all his life and this was his toy. Tragically, he died when his Volvo hit a tree and it remained in his wife’s garage for 16 years. For her, letting the car go was really emotional because it’s the last thing she had of him. But we’ve lovingly restored it and I’m hoping she’ll attend the auction to see it pass to a caring owner.

The gull wing doors are more than
a gimmick. They actually make the car stronger and safer. But they’re rubbish if you’re going for a Drive-Thru McDonald’s. When I tried, they had to pass the chicken nuggets in one at a time.

1947 MG TC

Bought for £15,000

Estimated auction price £18—22,000

The MG was hugely popular in America. All the GIs stationed here during the war fell in love with it and so when they returned to the US, they had them shipped over. This one has been in dry storage since 1976. We completely rebuilt it to its original specification.

It’s not my favourite to drive — it’s like steering a boat. In fact the steering wheel’s so big you can drive it with your balls — no hands! The doors are made from wood panels so
if someone hits you on the side you’re a goner.

1964 Austin Mini Cooper MK1

Bought for £9,000

Estimated auction price £14—16,000

I always smile when I sit in a Mini. They’re just enormous fun to drive. My first solo driving experience was in my mum’s Mini Clubman.
I passed my test, jumped straight in and revved the s**t out of it up the Harrow High Road.

We found this one in a barn in Ireland where it had been since the late 90s. Mk1 Coopers are rare — but what makes this one stand
out is that it’s got engine upgrades made by Downton engineering, which means it’s built for night rallying. And, of course, being Downton, it’s a period piece.

You don’t see many original Minis on the road now because they’ve crossed over from being a cute town car to a collectible classic— especially a Cooper. And if you can find one with good history they’re really valuable. It’s in the original almond green and snowberry white colour. Best of all are the alloy wheels. They’re the original Dunlop D1s. I like to think of them as the motoring equivalent of the Dunlop green flash tennis shoe. An undisputed classic. A Downton Mini rarely comes along especially one with every element intact. So I expect a Mini frenzy at the auction.

1950 Land Rover series 1

Bought for £6,000

Estimated auction price £14—16,000

If I’m honest, I was a bit indifferent to the Land Rover. If you live in a field, it’s great, but I wouldn’t want to be driving it around town.

I took it to an off-roading event called “trialling”’ where it performed really well.
You have to steer it through a series of narrow posts. I got through the first one and then scraped a tree so the production team
got the hump with me.

This particular vehicle was shipped out to Kenya, then Tanzania, where it stayed for six years before being returned to the UK. It seems to have been abused — while restoring it, we discovered someone had welded in a gatepost across a huge hole in the chassis. It had sat in a barn in Norfolk for 40 years before we rescued it. Now it’s rivet-perfect. Even the paint’s got a satin effect to emulate 1950s paint.

For the Love of Cars, Easter Day at 8:00pm, Channel 4