Steam car once bought by Norfolk farmer for £450 sells at auction for £371,000

The 1905 Gardner-Serpollet once bought by the late George Milligen, of East Ruston, for £450 which h

The 1905 Gardner-Serpollet once bought by the late George Milligen, of East Ruston, for £450 which has just sold for £371,000. - Credit: Archant

A rare 109-year-old steam car, once bought by a Norfolk farmer for £450, has sold for £371,100.

The late George Milligen

The late George Milligen - Credit: Archant © 2004

An American collector has snapped up the 1905 Gardner-Serpollet steamer previously owned by the late George Milligen from Manor Farm at East Ruston near Stalham.

He had a major collection of cars, 38 of which were sold in 2004 for a total of more than £6m, with a 1929 7.1-litre Mercedes Benz, which he bought for £400, topping the lots at £4.18m.

The steam car was sold at a London auction staged by Bonhams ahead of the annual London to Brighton vintage car run.

The Gardner-Serpollet was bought by Mr Milligen in 1946 for £450 from Harpsichord maker, Alec Hodson. He was the son of a rich industrialist and had a passion for collecting mechanical things.


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He kept the steam car in top condition for more than 50 years, and it was one of the vehicles he was regularly seen driving around the local lanes.

It was previously sold at Bonhams in 2009 for £238,000.

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This time the 18hp Type L Phaeton steamer, which has an AH 100 Norwich number plate, had a guide prize of £340,000 to £360,000

A Bonham's spokesman said: 'There were bids from across the globe. It was finally purchased by an American collector who was in the room for the sale. Whether it leaves the UK is uncertain.'

The auction, involving 23 cars and 162 lots, raised total of £1.5m.

Other top bids included: a 1901 Panhard et Levassor Twin-Cylinder 7hp at £259,100; a 1903 Malicet et Blin 8hp four-seater at £102,300; and a 1904 De Dion Bouton 8hp Model V Coupé at £88,860.

Some of the cars bought on Friday took part in Sunday's London to Brighton vintage car run.

Have you got an classic car with a story behind it? Email richard.batson@archant.co.uk

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