Spitfire goes back into production, but at £1.25m they're just for the Few

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Executive jets? Pah! Luxury yachts? Sneer. The latest must-have toy for the super-rich is a good-as-new and authentic Spitfire - and it is yours for a cool £1.25m.

Executive jets? Pah! Luxury yachts? Sneer. The latest must-have toy for the super-rich is a good-as-new and authentic Spitfire - and it is yours for a cool £1.25m.

The famous fighter aircraft that helped win the Battle of Britain is back in production for the first time in nearly 60 years, and the Essex company responsible is taking inquiries from around the world from the very rich looking for something a little different to play with.

But forget the war-film image of dashing young public schoolboy types leapfrogging across the airfield, clambering into their fighting machine and hurtling into the sky at 400mph to take on Jerry. The new model of Spitfire pilot is more likely to be Noel Gallagher or a dot.com millionaire.

Historic Flying, based near Saffron Walden, is the first company to reconstruct old Spitfires, and sell them on the open market. The team of 12 engineers can build about one a year, and 60-70 per cent of the newly built aircraft will be from an original.

Who is going to buy one? According to the company's general manager, Chris Betson: "If they need to ask the price, then they are probably won't be buying one. You're looking really at the dot.coms, entertainers, pop stars, stockbrokers - people who have made a lot of money but are still young enough. Most are in their forties.

"Let's face it. The Spitfire is a beautiful aeroplane. It's got a great engine, that makes a super noise. When you fly it, everyone is going to look at you. If you are in a Cessna, or an executive jet, well, no one cares. I get about one inquiry a week, and I'm getting quite good at spotting the time-wasters. I'm only interested in people who can write a cheque for £1.25m."

Mr Betson added: "Some just want to see it fly, but others want to fly it themselves. People also see the aircraft as an investment, because the value will increase. But people must understand that these are high-performance killing machines not toys. They were flown by highly trained young men, day in, day out in the war. And our planes need to be flown regularly too. They are not designed to sit around."

Despite the cost, the company is only looking to make enough money to cover the costs and buy more Spitfires. The owner, the Dutch industrialist Karel Bos, fell in love with the famous aircraft and learnt to fly one - at the age of 68.

"What we tend to do is this country is we let our history go, and 10 years after it's gone we wail about it," Mr Betson said. "The people who buy these planes, for whatever reason they buy them, are preserving our history. We are relying on them."

Comments