Hull car collector puts 1930s Humber Snipe owned by King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson up for auction

Humber cars are known for their royal and government useHumber cars are known for their royal and government use
Humber cars are known for their royal and government use
A 1933 Humber Snipe once owned by King Edward VIII - who gave up the throne to marry divorcee Wallis Simpson - has gone up for auction.

The classic motor as used by the King when he was romancing the American whom he would later marry, and they would often drive around London in it during their affair in the 1930s.

The story of King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson has returned to public consciousness more recently because of its seeming parallels to the situation of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Edward was forced to abdicate in order to marry Mrs Simpson in 1937, as the Crown would not accept marriage to a divorced woman. The couple spent most of their lives in 'exile' in France and the throne passed to Edward's younger brother Albert, who became George VI, the father of our present Queen.

Owner Allan Marshall, 64, from Hull, is auctioning off the Snipe and the rest of his classic car collection due to spiralling maintenance and storage costs. With its royal links, the Snipe is expected to fetch up to £40,000.

The vehicle's small rear window was ideal for the couple, who wanted privacy once their relationship became known after they met at a hunt in 1931.

Mr Marshall said: “I was told the car had been used by Edward and Mrs Simpson because it was perfect for privacy. Thanks to its small back window you couldn’t see who was inside."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Edward’s affair with the twice-divorced American led to such grave concerns in British government circles that the couple were followed by the Metropolitan Police Special Branch.

An undated report detailed a visit by the couple to an antiques shop, where the proprietor noted ‘the lady seemed to have the Prince of Wales completely under her thumb’.

When his father King George V died in 1936, Edward ascended the throne as King Edward VIII - but his reign was short.

His plan to marry Wallis caused a constitutional crisis that led to his abdication that same year.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The royal car will be sold at Hansons Auctioneers in Etwall, Derbyshire, together with 15 more vintage Humbers on Sunday October 25.

Allan, a retired potato merchant, is parting with his vehicles after welcoming visitors from all over the world to see his fleet.

The occasional celebrity dropped by, too - including Jools Holland, Stirling Moss and Michael Aspel.

Allan added: "I don’t really want to let them go, they’re so special to me. It’s taken me decades to build up the best collection of Humber vehicles in the world.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"They’re unmatched anywhere. But I’m in my 60s now and I won’t be here forever.

"Ideally, I’d love to see them sold as one lot and put on public display to be enjoyed by everyone.”

Rik Alexander, manager of the sale on behalf of Hansons, said: “If Special Branch followed Edward and Mrs Simpson around, the Humber would have certainly suited their needs.

"A place to hide from prying eyes. I think buyers will be intrigued by this car’s romantic royal connection and place in history.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“But the successful bidder will have to roll their sleeves up.

"They won’t be able to drive the car straight away. It’s a restoration project and needs its engine re-installing.”

Another vehicle with royal pedigree is a Humber Supersnipe MKIII 1952 - said to have transported the Queen Mother at the Castle of Mey in Caithness, Scotland.

Her fingernails are believed to have made marks on the grab handles inside the car. It also has a guide price of £20,000-£40,000.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

A third Humber with a colourful past is a 1948 MKI Pullman used in 1965 Second World War film Operation Crossbow and 2015 movie A Royal Night Out.

Mr Alexander said: “I was bowled over by Allan’s Humbers. Every single one of them has a special story, a place in history.

"This collection celebrates British motoring history.

"Classic cars are soaring in value making them a good investment, particularly with global markets in turmoil right now. They’re something you can rely on and enjoy.

"Celebrity Humber owners include Jools Holland, Richard Branson and Chris Evans, who apparently contacted Allan for advice.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Humber Limited was listed as a manufacturer of cars, bicycles and motorcycles in 1887 after initially starting out as a cycle business in 1868 owned by Thomas Humber.

Humbers are claimed to be the first series production cars made in England and every prime minister of the day arrived at Downing Street in them.

Produced in Beeston, near Nottingham, Stoke and Coventry, they gained admiration for their robust quality and reliability.

King George VI took delivery of his first Humber in 1935 and was so impressed he ordered 47 to be sent to British embassies around the world.

Related topics: