Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Legends Get a New Lease of Life; Bag a Unique Memento, Made from the Scraps of Famous Cars

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Legends Get a New Lease of Life; Bag a Unique Memento, Made from the Scraps of Famous Cars

Article excerpt


AHEROIC moment in the skies over London nearly 70 years ago has led to the launch of a remarkable business for motoring enthusiasts.

It was at 12.30pm precisely on 15 September 1940 that the chain of events began, as Hawker Hurricane pilot Ray Holmes was thinking of returning to his Hendon airbase. He'd been on a mission over London, helping to repel waves of German bombers sent to blitz the capital.

He was set to turn tail when he saw the silhouette of a Dornier bomber -- heading for Buckingham Palace.

Out of ammo, he used the one weapon he had left. He rammed the German plane, sending both aircraft plummeting to the ground. While the Dornier smashed into the forecourt of Victoria station, Ray bailed out and parachuted safely onto the roof of nearby flats.

His Hurricane plunged into Buckingham Palace Road, near Ebury Bridge, burying itself deep in the London clay.

And there it remained, beneath the Tarmac, until five years ago when photographer and part-time aviation archaeologist Christopher Bennet pinpointed its location from old photographs and masterminded its excavation.

What was left of the Hurricane after its 400mph impact was painstakingly retrieved, bit by bit, under the watchful gaze of its former pilot. The Merlin V12 engine and the pilot's control column went to the Imperial War Museum and the dig was recorded on film.

"After the excitement died down I realised that I was left with a bucketload of unidentifiable, mangled pieces of aluminium that were no good for anything," Bennet recalls. "But I realised it would be a shame to waste this raw material." He had it melted down and cast into a limited series of beautifully-executed Hurricane models, each six inches long and mounted on a plinth, to commemorate the event. It was after donating one to the Queen that he hit on the idea of replicating the experiment, but with parts of famous cars.

And so TMB Art Metal was born. Motoring enthusiasts from around the world now flock to buy his prized sculptures, cufflinks and tie-pins made from some of the best-known cars ever built.

Through sheer determination Bennet, from Ealing, was able to track down a hunk of bronze from the main bearing shells of the famous Thirties Bentley, Old Number Two, along with a plate of aluminium from the engine. …

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