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Hunt is on for thieves who stole £40k vintage 'Darling Buds of May' Rolls Royce from Lenham barn

A vintage Rolls Royce valued at £40,000 has been stolen from a barn.

The 1924 Landaulette, similar to the one used in the first TV series of The Darling Buds of May, was taken from a farm near Lenham and was last seen on a trailer on the M20 heading towards Dover.

This 1924 Rolls Royce 20hp Landaulette has been stolen
This 1924 Rolls Royce 20hp Landaulette has been stolen

The vehicle is owned by veteran jazz drummer Alan Jackson who has spent the past few years trying to restore it. It was stolen overnight between Tuesday, November 8, and Wednesday, November 9.

In a post on social media, which has been viewed more than 1,700 times, Mr Jackson's step-daughter Lucie Kirkby, 41, said: "My elderly stepfather put his heart and soul into restoring it.

"It is not drivable. The disgusting thieves must have used a tow truck or similar."

She warned: "They will likely dismantle all his hard work and sell the parts."

In an appeal to help track down the distinctive car she added: "It's such an unusual and loved vehicle."

Speaking to KentOnline she said: "My stepfather had it for about 10 years. He imported it specially from America. He has a passion for cars like this.

"He had only just got to the part where it was driveable. He had put new lights on it and new leather on the seats but it still wasn't roadworthy. He could just about drive it around the farm."

Lucie said: "We think thieves must have used a trailer to take it away. There are tyre tracks outside. Since I posted about this on Facebook one lady has been in touch to say she thinks she saw it on a trailer on the M20 at junction 8 heading towards Dover.

"This is such a shame. My stepfather put so much time into this. He's not a rich man but vintage cars are his passion."

One theory is that it was stolen to order. Lucie said: "They must have known it was there. Another theory is that they were looking for tractors and came across a Rolls Royce instead."

She added: "The thieves are going to have trouble selling it. The classic car and Maidstone communities have been brilliant by sharing its details."

The canary yellow 1926 Rolls Royce 20hp Landaulette used in the ITV series Darling Buds of May was sold at auction for £63,000. Picture: H&H Classics
The canary yellow 1926 Rolls Royce 20hp Landaulette used in the ITV series Darling Buds of May was sold at auction for £63,000. Picture: H&H Classics

Mr Jackson, who lives in Hither Green, south east London, and still drums at the Palm Tree pub in Bow last night agreed to post a £2,000 reward for information leading to the return of his cherished car.

It is not known how much it is worth but estimates put it around £40,000. A 1926 Landaulette went under the hammer by auctioneers H&H Classics at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford, last month for £47,250.

The canary yellow Rolls Royce owned by Pop Larkin in the 1990s ITV series and driven by star David Jason was auctioned by the same company last year and went for £63,000.

The 20hp vehicle was unveiled by Rolls Royce in 1922 as a shorter, more economical version of its sister the Silver Ghost.

It boasted horizontal radiator shutters and was built on a ladder-frame chasis. It was powered by a 3,127cc straight-six engine and had a three-speed gearbox. Originally, it only had brakes on its rear wheels.

The 'baby' Rolls stayed in production at the Derby factory until 1929 after the company had produced 2,885 cars. They had a top speed of more than 60mph.

Anyone with information should call the police on 101 quoting crime reference number CAD 090779.

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