Classic Van Auction Talk

Thursday 28 March 2019

1954 Miller Shooting Brake - BONHAMS AUCTIONS GOODWOOD MEMBERS MEETING Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX Sunday 7th April 2019


Goodwood, Goodwood Estate, Chichester PO18 0PX
Sunday 7th April 2019

1954 Miller Shooting Brake
Registration no. PUO 966 (see text)
Chassis no. GPM/1/1954
*Unique creation by its first owner

*Effectively three owners from new

*Austin-Healey 2.9-litre six-cylinder engine and three-speed/overdrive gearbox

*Partially restored in the 2000s
*Present ownership since 2005

  • Hand built by nurseryman Geoffrey Percival Miller of Braunton, Cornwall at a time when most domestic car production was earmarked for export, this handsome shooting brake first took to the road in May 1954 having taken five years and 5,500 hours to complete. 'I planned to do it in 1,000 hours,' Miller told a colleague. He was no stranger to the world of self-building though, having made his own motorcycle some ten years previously.

    Miller's latest creation attracted considerable attention on its first outing according to The Western Times & Gazette, which reported that, apart from a few production parts used for the coachwork, its creator 'worked from raw materials, doing all the welding, curving, and bending himself; and he bent the wooden framework by steaming each piece for 15 hours'. The engine was described as a 2.5-litre, overhead-cam six, and Mr Miller was said to be planning to replace the conventional gearbox with a fluid flywheel and pre-selector transmission, although in the 1960s a 2.9-litre Austin-Healey engine and three-speed/overdrive gearbox were installed.

    The accompanying history file contains a wealth of information accumulated during the car's early years, including Geoffrey Miller's hand-written notes concerning servicing and overhauls. Always lovingly maintained, 'PUO 966' remained in the Miller family's ownership until it was sold by his son Richard and daughter Mrs Jane Haig at Brooks' Beaulieu auction in September 1999 (Lot 513), its buyer being a German collector. While in the latter's ownership the Miller was partially restored, as evidenced by a selection of 'work in progress' photographs in the history file, and in 2003 it was pictured in Classic & Sports Car magazine's report on that year's Goodwood Revival Meeting (October edition, page 15). A copy of the article is on file together with various press cuttings, German registration papers, the aforementioned restoration photographs, copy of an old UK V5C document and bills for an electrical overhaul (see below). We are advised that the registration number is still recorded with the DVLA and may be recoverable.

    The current vendor, another German collector, bought the Miller from the aforementioned purchaser in 2005. Carefully maintained since then, the electrics being professionally overhauled in 2006, the car has seen little use because of the owner's other commitments (and many other vehicles). The Miller drove smoothly on a recent short test run. To say this car represents a unique opportunity is no flight of fancy, for one thing is certain: its fortunate new owner will never find themselves parking it next to another one!



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