Buried treasure led to boost for army charity

HM Lord Leuitenant of Lincs Toby Dennis, Lt Col Stuart Wiles, Paul Southerington, Douglas Landy
HM Lord Leuitenant of Lincs Toby Dennis, Lt Col Stuart Wiles, Paul Southerington, Douglas Landy

An unexpected treasure, buried deep in the ground at Salisbury Plain, led to a windfall for the ABF – the Armed Forces Charity.

The chassis of a rare 1932 MG J2 was found by archaeologists and was, earlier this year, sold to an MG enthusiast in Yorkshire who plans to restore it.

Paul Southerington, managing director of Witham Specialist Vehicles at Colsterworth, said his company acts as sales and marketing agents for the Ministry of Defence, when the government body seeks to dispose of items.

He said: “This can be anything from motorbikes, battle tanks and helicopters. We had a few bits and pieces from Salisbury Plain. They were putting some houses in and when they were doing an excavation, first of all they found tunnels, trenches and gun pits. With ordnance such as hand grenades also found, the section was cordoned off and in further excavations, the chassis was found.

“The MOD was to put it in a scrap bin but someone knew what it was. They started scraping the chassis and found its number - J2192.”

Further inquiries uncovered that the MG had simply been dumped there. No one knew why but car experts believe it could have been dumped in the 1960s when new MOT regulations made the car too expensive to keep.

Government regulations meant the vehicle chassis now belonged to the MOD and it would either be passed on to a museum or to Witham Specialist Vehicles.

The MOD had expected the chassis might make £500 but when sold online by the Colsterworth company, it went for over £3,000.

The company typically charges 15 per cent commission but at a cheque presentation this week, Mr Southerington boosted the donation to the ABF - Armed forces Charity (formerly the Army Benevolent Fund) to £1,500.

Mr Southerington expects the restoration will take a year or two. He added his company often receives many interesting wartime artefacts.

“We currently have a Spitfire to pick up. There isn’t much left of it. It is peppered with holes like a collander. It will end up in some museum, and will probably be sold to a rich American.”

In recent months, the company, based just off the A1, has sold many old Sea King helicopters, and currently has 30 military Gazelle helicopters in stock. Land Rovers are another popular sale item and many items go for export.

Earlier this month, Rob Paisley who bought the MG J2 chassis, told Classics World car magazine that restoring such a car was “my dream project. I have been looking for one for a long time.”

Rob, an MG enthusiast, keeps the chassis in his garage with his MGB Roadster, Already, work has stated on the front axle with the brake drums and hubs already removed.

Classic Car Buyer and MG Enthusiast magazines have promised further updates on the restoration.