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Lot 113: PMG Rapport Forte Estate

Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (24 June 2009)

The Rapport International Group was founded in the late 1970s by a Californian car dealer who wanted to create an oasis in the world of mass produced motoring. To begin with they specialized in creating customized Range Rovers in convertible, four-door and six-wheel variants, but they then decided to create a British sportscar with a difference. Taking the floorpan, drivetrain and engine from a Jaguar XJS V12, they commissioned Chris Humberstone to design a radical new body with an electrically retractable metal folding roof  years before any other manufacturer could successfully master this exceedingly difficult trick.

After many teething troubles the prototype was finally ready and in 1980 it was launched in great style when Mark Thatcher did a demonstration lap in front of the British Grand Prix crowds at Brands Hatch. Apart from the electric roof, the Rapport Forte also had an amazing electrically operated nose which rose up to expose the quad headlamps underneath and a funky crease which ran all the way down the sides of the flanks. Impressed by all this gadgetry and by the luxury interior, a queue of buyers was quick to form and 14 deposit-backed orders were taken within a week. Unfortunately management problems at Rapport International quickly wrecked the project, the receivers were called in and no more cars were made.

That could well have been the end of the story until Alexander Patrick decided to step in and try to save the day. The owner of the long-established Patrick Motors Group in Birmingham, Alexander was a dyed-in-the-wool petrolhead and he thought he could spot a future in the wacky Humberstone design. He bought the completed car and three unfinished prototypes and decided to see what he could salvage. However, the retractable metal roof was soon deemed too complicated for its own good so he decided to commission coachbuilders Ladbroke Avon of Warwick to build a hard top estate instead. The result is the car you see today, the unique PMG Rapport Forte Estate which was completed in the spring of 1983.

A full four-seater and every bit as luxurious as a Jaguar V12 inside, it retained all the wedge-like lower bodywork of the convertible (including the retractable snout and the funky side crease), topped off with an aluminium double-stepped roof with a glass sunroof. An eminently practical machine and pleasingly eccentric, it may well have found a small market if properly developed for production, but Patrick soon lost interest and moved on to other projects.

Apart from being loaned out to a few motoring magazines and making appearances at shows, the car was to spend the next decade or so on display at the Patrick Motor Museum before being put into storage about four years ago. With less than 1,000 miles on the clock it is still said to be in good running order though the last MOT expired in 2005. Currently being recommissioned for the road, it is hoped that it will have a fresh MOT before the sale.

It comes with a fair amount of history including various old MOT back to 1990, a copy of the V5 document (on which it is recorded as a 1981 Daimler Double Six Saloon) and some fascinating sales literature and press cuttings from when the Rapport project was launched. It also still wears Alexander Patrick's personalised number plates. Altogether a most intriguing and practical one-off that is sure to prove a huge talking point wherever it goes  and to upstage everything else in the golf club car park

Lot Details
Auction Classic Car, Motorcycle & Automobilia
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Leominster
TypeCar
Lot Number113
Estimate£10000-£15000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£9000
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Year1981
Condition rating0
Registration number2888 AP
Mileage-
Chassis number2K-2893BW
Engine number37610
Engine capacity (cc)5343
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors