The story of how National Numbers Chairman, Eric Craggs, won the number plate EC 2 at Bonham's auction, and the vintage Marshall car from which it came.
Eric and I both love the Lake District and so spend quite a lot of time travelling across the country from east to west.
One of the cross country routes goes through Kirby Stephen. During one of these journeys, Eric spotted the Marshall in the window of the garage run by the Potter Brothers. The vehicle looked spectacular, plus it was sporting the number plate EC 2.
Eric called in quite a few times over the years but never persuaded the Potters to sell him the plate.
When he heard that the plate was to be sold in the Bonhams auction, he telephoned the Potter Brothers. On saying who it was calling, Eric was told "Oh yes, we remember you – in fact, we're just looking at your business card now!"
Anyway, Eric decided to put in a telephone bid – but, when it came to the crunch he thought, after all these years of trying to obtain EC 2, he really had to go down in person.
So, we duly presented ourselves at Bonhams on New Bond Street on Friday, November 2nd, 2007. We were amazed at how crowded the saleroom was. The first part of the sale comprised all kinds of motoring memorabilia – wicker picnic hampers, Edwardian car rugs, helmets, goggles, horns, etc plus associated items like a beautiful, diamond-studded brooch in the shape of a vintage car. The successful bidder for that last lot looked extremely pleased – a special Christmas present perhaps?
Anyway, we went for lunch in a little restaurant off Oxford Street – near the original elegant entrance to Bonhams. We returned to the saleroom – in plenty of time – still absolutely packed. The "serious" lots were in this part of the sale – absolutely fantastic vintage machines looking as pristine as the day they rolled out of the workshop.
The 1899 five-horsepower two-seater Marshall was built by Marshall and Co., a traditional North Country engineering company who traded from Clayton in Manchester. The Marshall is Britain's oldest surviving model and has since sold through Bonhams for £102,700.
One of the lots (the only other registration mark to be included) was L13 VCR – to indicate the "London to Brighton Vintage Car Run". We realised that many of the vehicles were destined to be entered in this prestigious event. The prices realised reflected the fierce competition for these unique motor cars.
Anyway, lot 302A came up, and, at first, Eric didn't think he had much competition but then a telephone bid came in and bumped up the bidding by £4,700! However, after all these years of waiting, Eric was determined to get the plate and, eventually, the hammer came down. Eric was the proud owner of EC 2 at last.
Bonhams have kindly supplied us with more information about the Marshall from which the registration came.
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