As it prepares to leave not only Gloucestershire but the UK for good, what was once the driving force of one of county’s biggest businesses is having a rather special yard sale.
Cirencester-based Colt Car Company employed more than 230-plus staff in the county, ran 103 dealerships and achieved a turnover of more than £550 million, generated mainly through the sale of Mitsubishi cars.
But last year Mitsubishi Motors UK, a long-standing sponsor of Gloucester Rugby and England Rugby, revealed the shock it was to cease importing its vehicles to the UK.
Parent company Mitsubishi also revealed a £1.29billion loss in the first quarter of its financial year, with a 57 per cent drop in sales from April to June.
Now, as it begins the final clear out ahead of closure, the Cotswold firm has one last surprise up its sleeve – the sale of its heritage fleet of 14 classic cars bearing its famous marque, plus a selection of private number plates.
‘This is very rare. From the company’s point of view, this is something of a fond farewell as it looks to give back by giving everyone the chance to bid on one of these cars,’ said William Griffin, of London UK based AutoAuction.co.uk, which has been charged with handling the sales.
AutoAuction.co.uk’s brand ambassador, television personality and former Mitsubishi racer himself, Tiff Needell, present a series of videos showcasing the collection in all its glory.
Mr Needell called the sale ‘something rather special’.
Television motoring show Top Gear has even got interested, featuring the auction on its website.
Amongst the cars are two of the earliest original UK Mitsubishis ever registered in the country, a Colt Lancer and a Colt Galant – the brand’s flagship sports cars of the 80s and 90s, a Mitsubishi Starion Turbo and a Mitsubishi 3000GT and three of its iconic 4X4 vehicles – a Mitsubishi Jeep and a Mk1 and Mk2 Shogun.
Of most interest to performance car enthusiasts could well be the three Mitsubishi Lancer Evolutions. The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Makinen Edition is also expected to be the highlight of the auction.
The brand’s rally heritage in the UK is represented by a Mitsubishi Galant GTi rally-replica, a promotional vehicle build in the late 80s to commemorate Pentti Airikkala’s Lombard RAC Rally victory in a Mitsubishi Galant VR4, and the championship-winning Mitsubishi Evo IX which was driving to consecutive British Rally Championships by Guy Wilkes in 2007 and 2008.
The newest additions to the heritage fleet, a 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV Mk1 and a 2017 Mitsubishi L200 “Desert Warrior” which was built for the brand by journalist and presenter Tom Ford for a feature in Top Gear magazine, also go under the hammer.
AutoAuction.co.uk is due to stage the sale from 1 to 30 April 2021 online.
Post announcement saw Mitsubishi UK’s Cirencester headqaurters go up for sale through Bristol-based Russell Property Consultants. The property, which includes a warehouse, offices, showroom, training school – even a 24-bedroom hotel – could be yours for £12 million.
By Andrew Merrell