The late Sir Jimmy ordered a customised Range Rover camper with a sink, double bed and curtains. The white Range Rover Classic also features power-assisted steering, carpeted floors, air conditioning, cloth and leather seats and wooden trim inside. Sir Jimmy ordered the distinctive Range Rover after he began fundraising for the Aylesbury hospital in 1972. The Top of The Pops and Jim'll Fix It presenter took on the project after having worked as a volunteer porter since 1969, and raised up to £10million for the institution over three years. After the National Spinal Injuries Centre was built there in 1983, Sir Jimmy became its patron and continued to take an active interest.
The 1978 Range Rover Carawagon was ordered and supplied to Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG, disc jockey and television presenter, to aid him with his charity work, so when necessary the eccentric DJ used to bunk down in his Carawagon just outside Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire while raising money for its spinal injuries centre in the late 1970s. The van goes up for auction for around £16,000 next month, following Sir Jimmy's death last October at 84 years old.
The vendor believes that this Range Rover spent much time parked at Stoke Mandeville Hospital, an institution that benefitted hugely from Savile's patronage. Finished in white, this Carawagon is fitted with a double bed, and comes with a wash basin fitted between the front seats and curtains. The TV star's old 4x4 is being auctioned off and expected to achieve around £16,000 next month
John Tomlin, an Auction Negotiator at Historics at Brooklands said, 'Jimmy Savile ordered the car new in 1978. It's a special build by Carawagon. It has a bed in the back and a basin between the seats so that it could double up as somewhere to sleep whilst he was on the road doing his charity work. We have the original log book with Sir Jimmy's name in it. It's not had that many owners. I don't know how long he had it for though, that's what we are hoping to find out. Either way I'm sure the car holds a lot of memories about Jimmy's time on the road. It came to us from another collector and it's due to go to auction.'
The original Carawagon was a Land Rover-approved special vehicle, built by Searle of Sunbury-on-Thames. Later named Carawagon International, this company built sleeper-converted Land Rover 109s for military and civilian use, with orders coming from different official sources as well as companies such as the BBC.
From the 1960s until the mid-1980s they were built as campers and could be ordered with an elevating roof that allowed a person to stand inside. The army ordered 34 and called them the Tactical Command Posts. In 1971 Carawagon transformed a Range Rover on the base of an existing vehicle although very few Range Rovers were subsequently converted. This may have been because of the price; £3040 compared to £2450 for the more practical 109in Land Rover conversion with four beds, although they were still available in sales lists until 1980. Carawagon closed its doors during the mid-1980s.