Fenland Airfield owner collects and ships hearse to a friend in Cyprus
The owner of a South Holland aerodrome has given new meaning to the phrase "a friend in need is a friend indeed".
John Wright (84), who turned an area of farmland into Fenland Airfield, in Holbeach St Johns, at least 50 years ago, went the extra mile for a friend of 40 years who lives in Cyprus.
In fact, Mr Wright claims he made a "400-mile round trip" from his village home just to buy and collect a nine-seater Japanese-made hearse which he then shipped to his vehicle dealer friend on the Mediterranean island on Friday.
Mr Wright, who makes classic cars himself, said: "It's a copy of a Rolls Royce Silver Shadow that my friend saw on Ebay for £6,000 two months ago.
"You've never seen a hearse like this before as it has a Ford Vulcan chassis and engine that went over to Japan where they built the body on it.
"When it was advertised on Ebay, my friend in Cyprus bought it and asked me to buy it, collect it and ship it over to him, something I've been doing for 40 years.
"It came from a dealer in Yorkshire who imports Japanese cars because they are right-hand drive, like ours, so I had to make a 400-mile round trip to get it.
"I couldn't believe how long it was and we had to use a big, six-wheel lorry to get it.
"When I brought it back, everybody who saw the hearse thought that it was an American stretch limousine."
Far from being sad to send the hearse to Cyprus, described by an American motors journalist as " as a highly decorated temple on wheels", Mr Wright is busy building other classic vehicles for his collection.
They include a replica of the "flying car", Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, from the children's story written by James Bond creator Ian Fleming.
Mr Wright said: "I'm into vintage vehicles and I used to have American cars when I was younger.
"Now I like making replica cars from bits and pieces, including the car from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.
"About 50 years ago, I was offered the original Chitty Chitty Bang Bang from the film by racing driver Alan Mann when he came to collect my Rolls Royce Phantom I.
"But I couldn't afford it at the time so I'm making a replica of it."
Unusually, despite building and owning Fenland Airfield, Mr Wright's passion for classic cars does not extend to flying himself.
"My son is an airline training captain based in Crete where he teaches people to fly commercial airlines," Mr Wright said.
"But when someone came here and said: 'Why don't you start an airfield?' I did and it's gone quite well."