Former Exmouth businessman’s heartache as he sells off his car collection

PUBLISHED: 15:00 13 April 2014

Tony Strong at the wheel of his beloved 1964 Alvis TE21 drophead convertible. The rare car - one of only 95 made –- sold for more than £35,000, and was the pride of the weekend'’s car and auto memorabilia auction, held at Luppitt, near Honiton. Photo: Paul Strange.

Tony Strong at the wheel of his beloved 1964 Alvis TE21 drophead convertible. The rare car - one of only 95 made –- sold for more than £35,000, and was the pride of the weekend'’s car and auto memorabilia auction, held at Luppitt, near Honiton. Photo: Paul Strange.

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A FORMER Exmouth businessman says it was ‘heartbreaking’ to sell his huge collection of cars and automobilia, including a rare 1960s Alvis convertible.

More of Tony Strong’'s car collection, sold at auction at the weekend, including (left) a 1969 Triumph TR5 and a 1966 MGB roadster. A 1960 Humber Hawk estate is in the background. Photo: Paul Strange. More of Tony Strong’'s car collection, sold at auction at the weekend, including (left) a 1969 Triumph TR5 and a 1966 MGB roadster. A 1960 Humber Hawk estate is in the background. Photo: Paul Strange.

Now in his eighties and unable to drive many of the vehicles, Tony Strong – who co-owned two electrical shops in Exmouth and one in Budleigh Salterton – is emigrating to live with his family in New Zealand.

He wanted to sell his collection while still able to have some input in the sale. He also wanted to see the items pass into good hands.

“It’s heartbreaking, and not the easiest of days,” he said, prior to the sale of his 18 cars and more than 2,000 lots of Dinky, Corgi and Matchbox models, car badges, mascots, picnic baskets, enamel signs, tools and car spares.

“There’s a lot of emotion. None of this was really for sale. It’s my hobby. I was drawn to motoring. And there isn’t a single vehicle here that I didn’t want.”

More of Tony Strong'’s car collection, sold at auction at the weekend, including (right) a 1970 MGB GT and a Wolsely 1500. Photo: Paul Strange More of Tony Strong'’s car collection, sold at auction at the weekend, including (right) a 1970 MGB GT and a Wolsely 1500. Photo: Paul Strange

It took Tony 12 long years to buy the 1964 Alvis three litre TE21 convertible – one of only 95 ever made.

“I knew where it was,” he said. “I kept trying to get it. It was owned by a man who put it into a showroom in Knowle, near Budleigh. That’s where I first saw it and tried to buy it.

“Then it disappeared and turned up in storage in Starcross. We got it sorted, and eventually it came my way.

“But by then I’d lost a lot of the use of my legs. Alvis used to make tanks. The engine and the gearbox are basically a tank. The throw on the clutch is so hard for me. And my knee and my spine won’t take it. It’s quite military really, and I’m not a soldier anymore.”

There were many diecast models at the auction, including this Dinky Austin A40 van. Photo: Paul Strange. There were many diecast models at the auction, including this Dinky Austin A40 van. Photo: Paul Strange.

The two-day auction at Tony’s farm at Luppitt, near Honiton, went well, with the Alvis selling for more than its estimate of £35,000.

Tony’s daughter Krista said that the auction drew motoring enthusiasts from around the country – ‘some wonderful human beings’ – and that many of them understood what the collection represented.

“If someone takes it on that really loves it, that’s all it’s ever been about for Dad,” she said. “Money has always been second.”

Tony and his wife are off to New Zealand soon to join Krista and her family.

Car badges from around the world, plus assorted auto memorabilia at the auction. Photo: Paul Strange. Car badges from around the world, plus assorted auto memorabilia at the auction. Photo: Paul Strange.

“It’s a new chapter,” said Tony. “I’m looking forward to it.”

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