Bespoke car used by entertainer George Formby to visit troops across Europe and North Africa during the Second World War sells for £30,000 at auction
- George Formby drove the 1939 Mercury Eight Series 99A Estate to visit troops
- The 53-day tour included stops in Italy, Malta, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Lebanon
- The car was sold by a collector through auctioneers H&H Classics for £30,000
A car dating back to the Second World War which was driven across Europe and North Africa by ukulele-playing actor George Formby as he entertained troops has sold for £30,000.
The 1939 Mercury Eight Series 99A Estate was used during his time in the Entertainments National Service Association.
Formby drove it during a 53-day tour of the Mediterranean in the summer of 1943 after befriending its creator, racing driver Sir Michael Campbell.
The motor was updated for driving in the desert with larger tyres and partially painted-out windows to lessen the sun’s glare
The 1939 Mercury Eight Series 99A Estate was used by the famous entertainer during his time in the Entertainments National Service Association
The motor was updated for driving in the desert with larger tyres and partially painted-out windows to lessen the sun’s glare.
By the time the ukulele-strumming star returned to England in October, he had entertained 750,000 troops, traversed a minefield, dined with Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery and been named the Eighth Army’s mascot.
It remained in his ownership until his death in 1961 and was mainly used as transport for grouse shooting parties.
It was sold by a collector with auctioneers H&H Classics of Warrington, Cheshire.
It attracted a hammer price of £26,500, with extra fees taking the final figure paid to £30,475.
A Second World War staff car that was driven across Europe and North Africa by George Formby while he entertained the troops is tipped to sell for £35,000
The singer and comedian familiarised himself with the Series 99A and drove around Singleton, West Sussex, for weeks before embarking on the tour
Formby drove it during a 53-day tour of the Mediterranean in the summer of 1943 after befriending its creator, racing driver Sir Michael Campbell
A spokesman for the auction house said: ‘There can be few cars with such a rich back story.
‘Unique in so many ways, this historic Mercury was offered for sale with history file including copy correspondence from Sir Malcolm Campbell himself, as well as a wealth of George Formby related literature.’
The singer and comedian familiarised himself with the Series 99A and drove around Singleton, West Sussex, for weeks before embarking on the tour.
Formby drove it in Italy, Sicily, Malta, Gibraltar, Libya, Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon and Palestine.
As well as providing accommodation for Formby and his wife Beryl, the Mercury was equipped with a lean-to tent for his pianist and valet to shelter in.
Who was George Formby?
George Formby (1904-1961) was an English actor, singer-songwriter and comedian
George Formby (1904-1961) was an English actor, singer-songwriter and comedian.
He became globally famous for his films in the 1930s and 1940s and was best known for his uplifting songs in which he often played the ukulele or banjolele.
Formby’s success saw him become the UK’s highest-paid entertainer.
After an early career as a jockey, Formby began performing in music halls and married musician Beryl Ingham, who helped to transform his act into the success it became.
During the Second World War, Formby worked for the Entertainments National Service Association (ENSA), delighting both civilians and troops.
In 1946, he performed in front of an estimated three million people.
Formby last appeared on TV in December 1960.
Beryl died two weeks later before Formby surprised the nation by announcing his engagement to school teacher Pat Howson just seven weeks after her funeral.
However, the singer himself passed away three weeks later at the age of 56.
His top hits included Cleaning Windows, Leaning on a Lamp Post and Auntie Maggie’s Remedy.
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