A CLASSIC car enthusiast who spent a decade restoring a vintage van has been left heartbroken - after arsonists stole his beloved vehicle and left it burned out in a field.
David Webster paid £100 for the blue 1960s Austin A35 van before spending thousands of pounds and much of his spare time bringing it back to its former glory.
David showed off his ‘pride and joy’ at classic car shows around the region, and allowed curious passers-by to take pictures of the van parked on his drive at Normanton Spring Court, Woodhouse.
But the window fitter said he was devastated when he woke up to find the van had disappeared, followed soon after by the shocking discovery of the vehicle near the Bramley Lane allotments in Handsworth.
The car’s bodywork had been severely damaged, and its smart leather interior was also reduced to ashes.
“It’s like I’ve lost someone,” said David, aged 50.
“It looked horrendous. All the work I’d put into it had gone in a second because of some scumbag. I can’t get my head around why it’s happened.”
David has been interested in classic cars since childhood, and said he bought the van 10 years ago from a pensioner who had left it rusting in his garden.
“It was definitely a bargain, I would have paid a lot more for it. I swore that I would never, ever buy it to sell on. I could have sold it a thousand times for a profit, but I promised this little old chap that I would keep it myself,” he said.
“I had to totally rebuild it. It needed extensive welding, new sills, new suspension and brakes, everything really.
“It’s taken thousands of pounds to bring it back to its former glory. I wouldn’t like to add it up. It looked like a brand new car.”
David bought parts from special jumble sales, and even had to have some components specially made, including springs.
He also paid for a private number plate, and took the car for its MoT test earlier this year, when it was declared roadworthy again.
“I took it to shows at Renishaw Hall and Thoresby Hall - I loved it,” said David, who lives with partner Carol Fletcher, 49, and his children Ellie, 15, and Mitchell, nine.
“I had people knocking on the door and asking if they could take pictures when I parked it on the drive. When I first parked it outside I was a bit concerned about people looking at it.
“But lots and lots of people were just enquiring about it, and curious to have a look at it. I got a kick out of it, thinking ‘I’ve done that’. It was on the drive for about a week before it got stolen.”
n Anyone with information about the incident should call PC Simon Kirkham at South Yorkshire Police on 0114 220 2020, quoting incident number 543 of Sunday October 30.