Story: Business Insider
Additions: Mike Humble
Nick Mead, a collector of armoured vehicles in Helmdon, Northamptonshire, is selling former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s own armoured bus and has put it on the market for £25,000.
Mrs Thatcher was used to British products in less than hostile conditions as she was often seen on the TV campaigning up and down the country on her other battle bus – a Duple-bodied executive Leyland Tiger coach.
The vehicle has a chassis that was made by the now defunct Foden Trucks in Sandbach and has a 12-litre Rolls Royce Eagle 800 turbo diesel engine, which is powerful enough to propel the 17 tonne vehicle to speeds over 80mph. It was commissioned by the Government after the tragic terrorist Brighton Bombing of the Grand Hotel by the IRA back in 1984.
Mead runs Tanks-A-Lot – a company specialised in rent and sales of dismissed armoured vehicles from the British Army and he is finding it difficult to sell Maggie’s machine.
Meads told Business Insider that he had managed to sell it at an auction last year, but then the customer, who wanted to bring it to Iran, had problems at taking it out of the country, and the sale fell apart.
“What amazes me is that her handbag made £25,000, and her suits sell for thousands too, so why aren’t people bidding my bus? It is a mobile bunker.”
Meads had to put the bus back on sale, this time using the specialised website Milweb, and is yet to find a buyer.
It is fully armoured. The cover is built to withstand bullets of up to 7.62mm calibre, the type used by many automatic rifles and was built to seat 36 passengers, cabinet ministers. After the end of Thatcher’s Government, the bus was used to carry troops in Northern Ireland, before being decommissioned by the Ministry of Defence.
Meads, who normally buys older tanks from the Ministry of Defence and owns about 130 vehicles, said that he bought the bus from a research group within the department. He expects that other historical conservative institutions or foundations would be interested in the purchase.
The armoured bus that has bodywork made by Glover and Webb is even thought to be nuclear, biological warfare proof and has some nice luxury touches such as run flat tyres, a blast proof floor, atmospherically sealed air conditioning and its own on-board generator.
Meads said that, so far, it had attracted quite the opposite reaction to what he originally anticipated: “I got an email from an anarchist group recently, who wanted to buy it to spit on it and let it rot. I thought it was a bit harsh.”
Meads told Business Insider that he is now planning to check what potential buyers want to do with the bus before proceeding with the sale, to make sure it doesn’t end up in a conflict situation.
The bus is still perfectly functioning and, according to Meads, it comes at a bargain price for an armoured vehicle: “A 12 feet armoured coach normally costs £150,000, so I thought this one with 36 feet and only 21,000 km on it would have done great,” he said.