Brothers James and Richard Atwell were delighted to be reunited with their father's car after a 20-year search for a long-lost memory.

It has been their lifelong ambition to be reacquainted with the vehicle they grew up with.

Their father Joseph Atwell, a farmer at Roughleaze Farm, Stockley, originally bought the Austin Sheerline A125 in 1951.

Richard Atwell, 65, who runs the Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum in Stockley Lane, with his wife Hazel, has very fond memories of his father's car.

"I went to Windsor Castle in it as a young boy. I remember being waved in by the police there because we had permission to go in."

"We also went to our cousin's wedding in Somerset in it and my parents picked up my brother from school at St Hughes in it around 1955. We went to Cornwall with my grandmother in it as well."

Mr Atwell also remembers how the car was part of his less favourable memories.

"When I was 15 I was taken up to St Albans Hospital in Moorfields in London to have my eyes operated on. I spent ten days there with them both shut up. Dad came to collect me in the car."

The search for their father's Austin began in 1983 in Chippenham and ended in 2004 in Cornwall.

The Atwell brothers contacted the people in Chippenham who had bought the car from their father but unfortunately they were unable to trace it.

Peter Tate, trustee of the museum, said it has been the brothers' ambition to trace the car for years.

"They had both longed to trace the car to determine whether it was still in existence. In an effort to satisfy their dream they contacted the DVLA with details," he said.

The DVLA replied to the Atwells' request and informed them that the car was on the road. The Atwells then wrote to the owner through the DVLA and asked if he would contact them, which he did in a matter of days.

The owner had carefully restored the car to its original condition and it was in perfectly good working order.

"He was about to move house and put the car on the market. He couldn't believe what a coincidence it was that we had made contact with him when he was about to sell it," said Mr Atwell.

The brothers eagerly travelled to the current owner in Hayle, Cornwall, at the beginning of January and purchased the car.

James Atwell, 57, who is Dean of Bury St Edmunds Cathedral in Suffolk, discovered he had previously lived just a quarter of a mile away from the owner of his father's car.

The brothers were over the moon to see the family vehicle again particularly in such good condition.

"It was a very special moment. It is part of our childhood. It is also a very rare car. Only 8,000 were made," said James Atwell.

"My father bought it new and mother sold it for £100.

"It has been restored and is practically new. It is probably worth between £6,000 and £7,000 now," he said.

They bought the vehicle between them and brought it back to the museum in Calne where it will now be exhibited. They also plan to hire out the car for weddings.

The museum has a wide collection of vintage vehicles from the twenties to the eighties. These include an Austin 7, complete with an array of special tools and a detailed chart of what to do and when. The museum also exhibits a

collection of motorcycles including the Brough Superior SS80.

The exhibition, which is open Monday to Thursday and on Sunday, also includes loan vehicles among the resident vehicles, so there is always something different to view.

Mr Atwell said owning the Austin Sheerline once more meant a tremendous amount to him.

"It's a part of the family. It is nice to have it back."


The Sheerline A125 was built by Austin just after WWII as a poor man's rival to Rolls Royce and Bentley.

Produced from 1947 until 1954.

Its interior includes walnut veneer, leather upholstery and luxury carpets.

Its top speed is 83 mph.

The Atwell-Wilson Motor Museum opened in 1989. It is open all year round including Good Friday. Contact (01249) 813119 for details.