A famous Second World War fighter plane manufactured in Birmingham has fetched a world record sum of more than £1.7 million at auction in London.
The two-seater Vickers Supermarine MkIX Spitfire, one of 5,665 produced during the Second World War by Vickers-Armstrong from its plant in Castle Bromwich, is the first airworthy spitfire to go under auction for 20 years and was painstakingly restored over a five-year period.
A member of the fleet pivotal to the Royal Air Force’s success in the Battle of Britain, it is one of about 50 working spitfires in existence and was bought last night for a total of £1,739,500 by British financier and polar adventurer Steve Brooks in a Bonhams-run auction at the RAF Museum in Hendon.
Mr Brooks, who in January, 2005 became the first person to fly pole-to-pole by helicopter, has already promised to keep the plane in Britain and to release it for air displays.
James Knight, MD of Bonhams Collector’s Motoring Department, said: “It’s gone to who appears to be a lovely guy and who has guaranteed it will stay in Britain.’’
Built in 1944, it was delivered to the RAF’s Maintenance Unit at Lyneham in Wiltshire before being sold to the South African Air Force in 1948 and was recovered from a Cape Town scrap yard in the 1970s.
For sale from a private source, it is the second spitfire Bonhams has offered in recent months after a non-airworthy 1945 Supermarine went for £1.1 million in New Zealand last September.