This beautiful bus was an integral part of the British Motor Corporation’s success.
This is a bus (obviously) - but it’s not just any bus. The 1959 British Motor Corporation (BMC) 5-Ton Race Transporter was an integral part in getting the then new Mini out on the road. It’s coming up for sale at the Bonhams Goodwood Revival Auction in the next few weeks, and it looks absolutely stunning… for a bus.
Manufactured and introduced in 1959, the 5-Ton was produced in extremely limited quantities. Just 20 were built, each one traveling around a dealership network in the U.K., and training mechanics required to maintain the new Mini with its unique front-wheel drive traverse-engine layout.
The one pictured here was originally registered ‘BMC 25,’ and is likely the only survivor of the original six prototypes. All the aluminum coachwork was done by Pininfarina in Italy, with the final production and assembly done by Marshall’s of Cambridge in the U.K. After a number of years making a circuit of the dealership network, BMC used it on the actual circuit as a race transporter.
Making its way from the U.K. to Australia, it was part of BMC’s Abingdon-based Competitions Department, and became a crucial part of transporting vehicles and parts for a number of years. After its time on the track was completed, it was sold to Birmingham University for a mere £1.00, where it then made its way back to the U.K. and stood static as a coach company’s mobile booking office.
It was found a number of years later abandoned in a field and was given a full restoration. It was converted from its original ‘BMC 25’ chassis, to a replica of the ‘BMC 34’ chassis which was longer, and used more extensively as a Competitions Department race transporter in its heyday.
The conversion was completed by engineer Gordon Chance, having to be re-built virtually from the ground up without the availability of original parts. The original 5.1-liter six-cylinder diesel engine remains, paired to a five-speed manual gearbox and a two-speed rear axle.
The restored example was purchased in 2014 at auction, and was taken in for minor electrical work and full once over. Now it’s getting ready to cross the block once again at the Goodwood Revival. Estimates have it going anywhere between $110,000 - $130,000 (£80,000 - £100,000).