Bidder pays £310,000 for the 'most important tractor ever to come to auction in the UK'
PUBLISHED: 08:44 20 October 2019 | UPDATED: 13:38 21 October 2019
A rare and famous vintage farm machine described as the "most important tractor ever to come to auction in the UK" has been sold for £310,000 at an East Anglian sale.
The Ivel Agricultural Motor, cited as one of the great British inventions, brought collectors and enthusiasts from across Europe flocking to the Cheffins' Vintage Sale at Sutton, near Ely.
The three-wheeled machine, the brainchild of visionary inventor Dan Albone, was the first commercially-viable British tractor and the first to go into volume production.
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.
After a bidding battle between potential buyers, it was sold to a telephone bidder for £310,000, with the added buyer's premium taking the price paid to £328,600 - smashing the existing record and the pre-auction estimate of £200,000-£250,000.
Auctioneers said the Ivel will remain in the UK but the buyer wishes to remain anonymous.
The previous record price of £94,500 for a classic or vintage tractor was surpassed a further two times during the auction which Cheffins described as "one of the strongest collections of tractors we have ever catalogued".
A scarce County 1884 model described as a "holy grail" for tractor collectors also exceeded auctioneers' expectations by fetching £139,920,
The 1982-made machine, thought to be one of no more than 20 still in preservation, was sold with just 3,833 hours on the clock and all its original manuals.
Meanwhile a 1980-registered County 1474 brought the hammer down at £99,640.
Cheffins chairman Bill King said: "This was one of the strongest collections of tractors we have ever catalogued and we saw exceptional trade.
"To break the previous auction record for a vintage or classic tractor three times on the day is remarkable.
"The undoubted highlight was obviously the Ivel. It was a huge privilege for all of us at Cheffins to offer this once in a lifetime opportunity to buy such an iconic and famous tractor and we are delighted to achieve such a deserving figure.
"The price exceeded our pre-sale estimate and there was a tremendous buzz and anticipation during the sale."