Instant Classics: Wallace & Gromit replica vehicles find a lovely new home
Wallace & Gromit’s Austin A35 vanYou can't miss the shiny A35 Top Bun Bakery van in the middle of the shop. You'll recognise the classic sign writing and colour instantly. It was used by Wallace & Gromit in their new bakery business from the 2008 award-winning film 'A Matter of Loaf and Death'.
A photo of the A35 van pre-renovation being delivered on the trailer before its transformation.
The history behind the van
Originally grey, the van was sold from a garage in Wells, Somerset, in 1963, and its first owner used it as their family car for 21 years. The van had four loving owners before being sold to Mike Prankerd in 2013. From 2013 onwards, Mike painstakingly restored the claymation hero's van, especially for his goddaughter's wedding car in May 2014. It took over 13 months to restore. We think he did a cracking job!
The Austin after Mike's cracking restoration job.
Top van facts
Here's some finer details you may not have noticed at first glance:
- The 'Top Bun' text on the back and sides was hand-painted by Mike.
- The van is fitted with a combined radio-toaster, and a small HOVIS bread tin is fixed to catch the breadcrumbs underneath.
- Bakers' shelves and tray have been fitted at the rear, including real bread and flour!
- Vintage cotton flour bags were used as the headlining.
- A 'No doughnuts are stored in this van overnight' sticker is in the back window.
- The number plate is DOH NUT5.
The van has been featured in several magazines, including 'Classic Van and Pick-Up' and 'Spotlight Austin A30/A35 Owners Club', and has even been on display at the prestigious NEC Classic Car Show.
Wallace & Gromit in the motorbike and sidecar at the SS Great Britain.
Wallace & Gromits motorbike and sidecar
You'll remember these classic wheels from Wallace & Gromit's industrious window-cleaning service, Wash 'N' Go, featured in Nick Park's 1995 award-winning film 'A Close Shave'. This iconic vehicle appeared in a classic moment from the film when Gromit's sidecar transformed into a plane in hot pursuit of sheep rustling dog Preston.
The history of the motorbike and sidecar
This classic machine is a 1954 BSA 500cc M33 combined with a Watsonian sidecar. The BSA M33 motorbike first appeared on our streets in 1948, and production ceased in 1957.
Mike bought the outfit in 2008. It needed restoration as the sidecar body was originally a wooden coffin with a hinged lid, used to carry handyman tools! Mike saw its potential and gave the sidecar a cracking makeover into the striking dream machine you see today, fit for our claymation duo.
Cracking bike facts
Here are a few interesting details you may have missed:
- Aardman's Nick Park, the creator of Wallace & Gromit, sketched the illustration of our pals on the back of the sidecar on the bike's first outing to Aardman's studios in Bristol.
- The sidecar flying instruments are ex-RAF WW2. Some are even from a Spitfire!
- The number plate is WAL 1.
- Look at the front of the sidecar where the propellers appear. It's a teapot lid!
Please note. This replica doesn't include a working porridge shooting gun. However, it does have a ladder, perfect for sheep acrobatic formations and window cleaning!
The motorbike and sidecar featured in 'The Classic Motorcycle' magazine and spent many months on display as a centrepiece at The National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham.
Mike at one of his many fundraising events with the classic replicas.
How did we get our paws on these classics?
Mike was the proud owner and has spent years lovingly restoring these classic vehicles into replica Wallace & Gromit vehicles with permission from Nick Park and Aardman animations.
Both classic replica vehicles were used to raise money for charities at events, including The Grand Appeal. When Mike decided to let go of his pride and joy vehicles, he thought of The Grand Appeal, and we were delighted to give them a new home. They are now proudly on display in The Gromit Unleashed Shop so we can continue their fundraising efforts.
Photo opportunities in store
The van and motorbike are open to the public on special days, at specific times for visitors to sit in and on. If you fancy the full Wallace & Gromit classic vehicle experience, watch our social media channels for upcoming photo opportunities.