Exclusive video! Inside the Brightwells ‘Affordable Classics' sale hangar

AutoClassics were granted an exclusive preview of the James Hull collection, being auctioned by Brightwells in collaboration with Jaguar Land Rover at Bicester Heritage

You’ve probably already heard about the amazing story that found Jaguar Land Rover purchasing 543 vehicles from car nut James Hull, with 100 surplus vehicles now heading to auction with Brightwells on March 21 at Bicester Heritage.

Well, now you can step into the storage hanger for an exclusive preview with AutoClassics…

Viewing the collection

It’s not often that you brave an outside temperature of -4 degrees by choice, except for something truly exceptional. In this case, approaching the retractable shutters worn by one of the hangars peppering the Bicester skyline, we were persuaded by the exclusive opportunity to view the amassed ‘Affordable Classics Auction’ collection - all 100 classic cars soon to pass under the hammer on March 21.

Little over ten years ago, an auction featuring such everyday vehicles from bygone decades would have barely raised an eyebrow. However, holding an incredible backstory and bringing such nostalgic vehicles to the forefront of automotive headlines, our rose-tinted glasses have ensured a wistful trip down memory lane – one urging us to delve into our pockets and procure an automotive segment of our childhood. Especially as the cars are being offered at no reserve. This may be the only chance you ever have to bag a classic Fiat 500 or Austin Metro for £200...

Join us for a tour...

As soon as foot is set on the concrete floor, there is an urge to catch your jaw as it drops. Like a carpet of once familiar metal, 6 cars deep towards the back wall, a bulk of once snubbed but now highly collectable automobiles reside under the historical hangar roof.

There are several MG Maestro and Metro Turbos, a Ford Transit MkI and a Scimitar-Ferguson 4x4 prototype – not to mention an incredibly rare Peugeot 402 and a Rover P6 V8 shooting-brake.

Walking amongst the parked bulks, freezing intakes of air stinging the chest with each bellow, the sense of history is overwhelming. Like mixing beggars with aristocracy, never before has a Morris Ital and Austin Allegro been proudly displayed alongside a Mercedes-AMG CL63 and Borgward Isabella Coupé. Ranging from the 1920s right through to the new millennium, the broad range of estates, saloons, drop-tops, cabriolets, superminis and commercial vehicles demonstrate the scope of Mr Hull’s taste.

These vehicles once had excited new owners from all across the broad spectrum of society - from those who scrimped and saved to buy a factory fresh Metro to clients purchasing the latest Mercedes simply because it was in fashion.

Now they rub shoulders together, with each model having survived a journey through the price trough. It sends a shiver down the spine comprehending how many people have collectively sat behind the wheel of these vehicles. How many summer holidays were spent clocking the miles towards the coast and, in some cases, how many World Wars and political scandals some models have endured.

Citroën BX GT? Commer Highwayman? FSO 125p Estate? All present and seeking new homes. In fact, the perfect three car garage greets us towards the final row of showcased auction lots - a Riley RMB 2.5-litre, a Vauxhall Chevette 2300 HS and a Renault Caravelle. It’s difficult to fix notice on any individual motor, each one serving up their own unique stance and attraction. Quite frankly, the hum-drum mantra makes them all the more endearing.

Being of the British Leyland persuasion, a personal preference drew attention to the square immensity of a 1977 Princess 2200 HL, the cabin draped in velour and – amazingly – the hydragas suspension offering an even keel all round. The only lean here was the sympathy vote towards a rather smashed-up Volkswagen Beetle, but don’t despair as it’s a happy ending. The claw is being kept very firmly at bay courtesy of Jaguar Land Rover donating the VW to charity.

Although it may look as though Maureen from driving school has treated it to an outing down the bobsleigh run, the battered blue bug is side lined for attention from UK charity Starter Motor. Helping to encourage a new generation of young enthusiasts learn the skills required for driving, restoring and maintaining heritage vehicles, the ‘bug’ will be ripped apart and put back together again in the name of education. No doubt leaving several students smitten with the iconic beatniks’ mouthpiece.

The same fate is reserved for a split screen Morris Minor and a Citroën Visa – both dilapidated and worthy of restoring. We may even see them on the road again very soon.

After the march of time pushes our stint in the hangar to an end, there is an overwhelming awareness that this is the last stretch the James Hull brethren will enjoy in each other’s company. Some of these vehicles have shared space for more than a decade, with every example accumulating minimal mileage and having avoided the crust and salt of several winters. A bright future awaits each one in the hands of keen enthusiasts and collectors.

However not before we get to undertake something special with five of the best. Keep an eye on AutoClassics for our up-coming road test …

You can view the full inventory on the official Brightwells Auction website.

Video filming and editing by Ollie Whittaker
Pictures courtesy of Brightwells Auctions and Calum Brown

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