1968 Bedford J2 Luton Van
Original prop from CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY (2005); one of six built by Warner Brothers Studios and thought to be one of only two surviving; very impressive recent paintwork; paperwork confirms provenance; driven from the Isle of Wight to Herefordshire for the auction
This 1968 Bedford J-Type van is one of just six that were specially made by Warner Brothers Productions for the wildly imaginative 2005 remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005) starring Johnny Depp as eccentric chocolatier, Willy Wonka.
Based on the classic 1964 children’s novel by Roald Dahl, the film was directed by Tim Burton in his trademark gothic fantasy style and proved a huge box office success, earning $475m for Warner Brothers and making it one of the most profitable films of 2005.
Following on from the Tim Burton classic, a prequel titled Wonka is currently in production and is due to be released in 2023, so interest in memorabilia is unlikely to dwindle anytime soon.
Originally this Bedford TJ was a J2L without the box on the back. There were six trucks featured in the film and this one is thought to have been bought from Ipswich in Queensland, Australia.
Included within the file of paperwork, there is correspondence between our vendor and the art director of the film, who confirms that the truck was shortened after they received it, the luton back was built and of course the striking paintwork applied. We understand that the restoration/alteration to each vehicle cost Warner Brothers in the region of £20,000 for each vehicle. Unfortunately, only two of the six built are known to survive, one of which having been exhibited at the Bicester Heritage Scrambles and now looked after by the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden and this one which has been restored again very recently.
Affectionately known as Albert, the truck was discovered by the current owner languishing in a Sussex field in January 2015. By this stage it had been repainted blue, having recently appeared in another film, Legend, a crime thriller set in 1960s London starring Tom Hardy as the Kray twins.
The owner initially put Albert to work delivering beds for a company that he owned on the Isle of Wight. But when he received confirmation that the van was definitely one of the six made for Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, he sent it away for a professional restoration that returned it to its Willy Wonka livery.
“The smiles, waves and happiness that Albert creates wherever he goes are a joy to behold,” said the owner. “He is in constant demand for promotional work and I have enjoyed showing him off at local schools where the kids go mad for him. Finding and bringing back to life old vehicles has become my passion and something I’m off around the world to explore more of this winter. They really do have their own character and relationship with their owners!”
Albert was recently driven 230 miles from the Isle of Wight to our auction hall in Herefordshire and not surprisingly had many admiring views and photographs taken while en route.
Original chocolate bars from the movie have been selling for as much as £4,000, the red delivery bikes also used in the film have been fetching up to £8,000 and a Golden Ticket made £10,000 when it came up for auction in 2019, so memorabilia from these films is obviously highly sought after and the release of the new film in 2023 should keep this momentum going.
With Christmas just around the corner, this unique and eye-catching van would be the perfect present for any chocolate-loving Augustus Gloops out there and will have endless promotional potential too. You don’t even need a Golden Ticket to win it, just access to a good wedge of wonga!
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