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'Unique and famous' 1903 tractor could fetch £250,000 at auction

PUBLISHED: 13:39 26 September 2019 | UPDATED: 13:39 26 September 2019

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A "unique and fanous" 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor is expected to fetch up to �250,000 at the Cheffins Vintage Auction near Ely on October 19. Picture: Chris Lishman

Chris Lishman

The "most important tractor ever to come to auction in the UK" is expected to fetch up to £250,000 when it goes under the hammer in East Anglia next month, said auctioneers.

A A "unique and fanous" 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor is expected to fetch up to £250,000 at the Cheffins Vintage Auction near Ely on October 19. Picture: Stuart Gibbard

The Ivel Agricultural Motor, cited as one of the great British inventions, will be the top lot at the Cheffins' Vintage Sale at Sutton, near Ely on Saturday October 19.

The 1903-made model - number 131 - is probably the best-known of the world's eight complete surviving machines, said auctioneers, having been a star attraction at the National Tractor and Farm Museum in Northumberland for many years as part of the late John Moffitt's Hunday Collection.

Tractor historian Stuart Gibbard, who detailed the history of the Ivel in Cheffins' sale catalogue, said: "The Ivel's importance to early tractor history cannot be overstated and this is an unparalleled opportunity to acquire a unique and famous machine with incomparable provenance.

"Such an opportunity is unlikely ever to be repeated."

A A "unique and fanous" 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor is expected to fetch up to �250,000 at the Cheffins Vintage Auction near Ely on October 19. Picture: Chris Lishman

The three-wheeled Ivel Agricultural Motor, the brainchild of visionary inventor Dan Albone, was the first commercially-viable British tractor and the first to go into volume production.

After experimenting with motorcycles, powered tricycles and even a car, Mr Albone began developing a farm tractor which became the Ivel Agricultural Motor - as tractor was not a commonly-used term at the time.

It had a single-speed (forward or reverse) transmission and a two-cylinder 24hp engine.

According to John Moffitt's research, model No. 131 was used as a demonstrator and exhibited at the Royal Agricultural Show in London in 1903.

A A "unique and fanous" 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor is expected to fetch up to �250,000 at the Cheffins Vintage Auction near Ely on October 19. Picture: Chris Lishman

He bought it from Derek Hackett of Ross-on-Wye and, after the National Tractor and Farm Museum closed, the Ivel remained in the Moffitt family's ownership despite much of the collection being dispersed.

It was loaned for a time to Beamish Museum and extensively re-built in 1994. To celebrate its centenary in 2003, John Moffitt embarked on a 100-mile charity drive around the country which raised £120,000 which was distributed to hospices throughout the country.

Following Mr Moffitt's death in 2008, it has been exhibited at many shows and featured in various vintage publications.

A A "unique and fanous" 1903 Ivel Agricultural Motor tractor is expected to fetch up to �250,000 at the Cheffins Vintage Auction near Ely on October 19. Picture: Chris Lishman

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