Picture of The Day: Heinz 57 Wolsely Hornet convertible

Every time I see a competition to win a car, I wonder if it’s for real. I mean, cars are expensive and big companies aren’t known for spending huge amounts of money for no good reason.

I know, I’m cynical. Or bitter. I never even win on a tombola.

But of course, if you say you’re going to give a car away, you have to. It’d be illegal not to. Heinz was a pioneer of win-a-car competitions and a prize from 50 years ago has resurfaced at auction.

Back in 1966, Heinz gave away 57 Wolsely Hornet convertibles built by Crayford (one for each of the company’s fabled 57 varieties). Crayford produced a successful drop-top Mini, but Heinz wanted something a bit more special, so chose the Mini-based Hornet for its cars.

Once the conversion was completed, topped by Crayford’s trademark red leather hood, the interior was fitted out with an insulated food cabinet, front and rear seatbelts, power socket and electric kettle, tartan rug, picnic hamper, radio and a Max Factor make up kit.

Crayford had never received such a big order and it caused some real logistical problems as it was literally based in a couple of sheds. With nowhere to store the cars, they ended up parked on the tennis court of car park of a nearby nudist camp.

The winners were announced in spring ’66. Over one million people entered, though we don’t know if it helped sell any extra soup or ketchup.

Being such rarities with an interesting story, the survival rate is very good, 41 of the 57 cars surviving. They were originally available in grey or white, so this one has obviously been repainted at some point. The view through the window suggests that at least some of accessories survive.

The Heinz 57 Wolsely Hornet crosses the block at Barons’ Sandown Park sale on 21 April with an estimate of £7,000 – £9,000. For more information click here

What do you think?

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