Large Object Recant and conserving the Humber Super Snipe Staff Car

The next few weeks will see the installation of several more objects in our changing atrium gallery. One of these will be on display at IWM London for the first time, having seen many years on display in the Land Warfare Hall at IWM Duxford. Known colloquially to IWM staff as ‘Monty’s Staff Car’ or ‘the King’s Staff Car’ because of its history, the vehicle is technically a Humber Super Snipe Staff Car (accession number 4107.100.1).

Over the last year Conservation Staff, led by Harmon King, have been researching the years of paint that have been added to the car- both by sampling the layers themselves (paint archaeology, essentially) but by reference to our photography archive, which has many examples of King George using the car to visit the Eighth Army in Italy in 1944.

King George VI visits Eighth Army in Italy, 1944.

The team used the information from this research to restore the car to the 1944 colour scheme. They found that some of the paint layers added post-war have been applied in a variety of interesting ways- some of the black colour was found to be non-slip decking paint, for example (applied before the car entered the museum I hasten to add)! In other areas the car had been re-painted so many times the paint was cracking and falling off.

The dashboard  in need of conservation work

The dashboard restored and reinstalled by the conservation team at IWM Duxford.

In short, we needed to intervene as the car was no longer representative of its wartime service and was showing its age (and not in a good way). Equally, the surfaces were starting to fail and fall off. This was also true of the leather seating in the car, which has had major refurbishment and stabilisation.

Paint markings on the drivers door side prior during the teams work.

The drivers door side after being repainted in the 1944 colour scheme.

 

The team have worked hard to return the car to the condition Field Marshal Montgomery or King George V would have been proud to ride in, and we are delighted to see it arrive at IWM London during the October school holidays.

6 comments
  1. Scott Marchand says: November 1, 20134:47 pm

    Hi,

    Nice job! We have a 1940 Humber Super snipe staff car here we are restoring and I was wondering if you had the diagrams for the wiring sub-harness in the engine compartment?

    Best,

    Scott

    • David says: November 25, 20139:38 am

      Hi Scott,

      I’m afraid we don’t have diagrams of a Humber car but we would recommend contacting the Vintage Humber Club – committee@humber.org.uk – and they may be able to help provide diagrams for your restoration project.

      Best,

      David

  2. Colin Brooks-Williams MONTY'S DOUBLE says: November 1, 20138:23 pm

    Very well done and congratulations to the conservation team for all their hard work !
    I’m looking forward to coming to see this in 2014.

  3. Owen Thompson says: November 1, 20138:30 pm

    I am sure you have plenty of photos of this car, but I have one of my father, Lt Col AGB Thompson on parade in N Africa, shortly after Operation Torch (Nov ’42) with this car passing and “Me”, “Monty”, “the King” arrowed on it. Can email a copy if you would like.

    • David says: November 7, 20139:16 am

      Hi Owen,

      Thanks for getting in touch. We do indeed have several photos of this car – you can browse them at iwm.org.uk. If you wanted to find out more about your own photo you can also visit our research facilities but do feel free to share a copy with us on our Facebook page.

      Many thanks,

      David

    • David says: November 25, 20139:40 am

      Hi Owen,

      If you wishes to email us a scan of the picture you can send it to our Collections Manager John Delaney – jdelaney@iwm.org.uk – who will be able to tell you if we have any similar images in our collections. Does your picture have a number on the back at all?

      Best,

      David

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