A garage boss was left stunned after he bought a classic car at auction only to discover his father had owned the vehicle – over 40 YEARS ago.
James Edwards, 43, took a shine to the red 1972 Saab 96 when he saw the vintage motor being sold and snapped it up for £5,000.
But when he drove the rare vehicle home his dad John recognised it straight away as the same one he had fallen in love with almost half-a-century ago.
John, 81, owned Westbury Garage in Shrewsbury, Shrops., before James took over in 1996, and kept a photo of the beloved two-door saloon hanging out front for years.
Incredibly, James never saw the picture and only bought it from an auction in Wiltshire because the old-style number plates showed it had a connection to his home town.
James, from Ludlow, Shrops., said they were both left gobsmacked when they realised he had purchased his dad’s old favourite car by coincidence.
He added: “I was amazed to discover dad had owned and sold the car all that time ago.
“It was his favourite car and he even sold it the year I was born.”
“I knew there was a local connection, but had no idea it was such a strong one. We must both have the same taste.
“I’ve always wanted a 96 because they’re such nice cars, and when I saw this one online with Shropshire registration plates I went along to the auction and bought it.
“I drove it home to surprise my dad and he said he was sure he’d seen the car before.
“We dug through the archives and found that he’d sold it 43 years ago – almost exactly to the day. I bought it on October 24 and it was sold by dad on October 14, 1972.
“I’ve been trying to piece together the history, and I found that a really good family friend, Bill Jenkins, also owned the car for five years without us even knowing.
“The other day we found a photo of it back in our garage in the 1980s – we had no idea.
“We can’t believe it, it’s like the car has been following us around and now it’s all come together.
“It’s lovely to drive, but I’m gingerly testing it out – I’ve only taken it up to 55mph so far.
“It’s very minimal, there’s no radio, just four ash trays.
“There’s also a pretty lethal fuel disengagement lever, which was quite common back then because of the fuel crisis.”
John, who is now a chairman of his son’s garage, originally sold the vintage motor from new in 1972 for £1,023 to a Charlie Rodgers, from Church Stretton, Shrops.
Mr Rodgers then sold the Swedish classic, which has clocked up 97,000 miles, to Bill Jarvis, from Hodnet, Shrops., and it was later sold to a new owner in Norfolk.
It was auctioned by Richard Edmonds Auctions in Chippenham, Wiltshire, on October 24.
Mr Edmonds added: “When James told us the story about the car and his father, we were blown away.
“I feel like we’ve played matchmaker in this story, which is wonderful for us and our team.”
“Saab 96s were once very common in the UK but now you rarely see them up for sale.
“This one was in fabulous condition.”
* The 1972 Saab 96 was one of the companies most recognisable models after it enjoyed a number of successes in motor sport throughout the 70s and 80s.
It was manufactured from 1960 to January 1980, and had a two-stroke, three-cylinder engine and previously broke a land speed record.
Speaking from his son’s garage, grandfather-of-five and dad-of-four, John said: “It’s a fantastic motor and it’s good to have it back in the family.
“We used to sell a lot of them back then and I was an original member of the Saab 100 club, for selling 100 of them.
“But this one was special. I got it in because we used to have one a few years before and I loved it.
“They won the rally championships and everything.
“James took me out for a spin the other day and it really took me back. I felt like a young man again, cruising on the open road.”
“It is a proper front-wheel drive motor. We went round to the old garage that’s in Westbury and it really brought back some wonderful memories.
“I’m so glad James went to that auction. The chances of finding that car by complete chance must be a million-to-one.
“To be reunited with my favourite car all these years later was very emotional. I am overjoyed.”