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Del Boy Van Will Be A Nice Little Earner

From The Western Morning News, 14 April 2004

Champion rally driver Paul Gregory came up with a perfect comic riposte when he was harassed by his mechanics for a van to use at events.

He went delving for something unusual and discovered what Del Boy Trotter in BBC's 'Only Fools and Horses' would call a "bit of a diamond" and a "nice little earner".

According to Paul, the look on his crew's faces was "cosmic" as in rolled a three wheeler Reliant Regal Supervan III first owned by John Sullivan, creator of Only Fools And Horses.

The 33-year-old van was the inspiration behind Mr Sullivan's decision to opt for a Reliant Regal as a less than sexy set of wheels for David Jason's Del Boy Trotter and his lugubrious brother Rodney, played by Nicholas Lyndhurst.

This Sunday it will be displayed at the Hartnoll Hotel Wedding Fair in Tiverton in support of Marie Curie. It will then be whisked away to its spiritual heartland and exhibited as the star attraction for sale by Coys on July 3 at Chiswick House, London.

Standing alongside it this weekend will be Mr Gregory's ultra powerful MG ZR rally car that has recently been completed and has just returned from the Tour of Cornwall rally.

While his MG is capable of speeds of more than 100 miles per hour, the Reliant Regal, when it is not back-firing, struggles to reach 50mph.

Despite its age, the van is expected to fetch more than 20,000 at auction because of its national celebrity status. A replica Reliant Regal, identical to the one in Only Fools And Horses, was recently bought for 20,000 by former Atomic Kitten singer Kerry McFadden, winner of TV's I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here.

Former South West rally champion Mr Gregory, who lives near Tiverton, said: "It isn't pretty to look at. But you don't want it pretty. You want the original thing. Someone has paid 20,000 for a replica. This is the original."

Mr Gregory, who runs promotions and events company G Sport, said: "I only bought it to wind up my crew.

"It was just a bit of fun really. It's been a good laugh. But I've had my fun in it now and I'm ready to sell it on."

Made in Tamworth, Staffordshire, the van has had three owners since 1971, when Mr Sullivan bought it.

It has just 45,000 miles on the clock, and still has its original fibre-glass chassis and low powered engine.

A spokesman for classic car specialists Coys said: "We have no idea what it will fetch but we're confident it will generate a good deal of interest."