Farmer turns passion for vintage cars into a new career

Sarah Coles
Neil Tuckett
Neil Tuckett

Neil Tuckett from North Marston in Buckinghamshire, decided that life as a farmer wasn't as rewarding as he had hoped, so he decided to turn his hobby into a career, and start repairing and restoring vintage Model T cars.

He told Farmers Weekly that he fell for the open-topped Model T Ford - which was produced between 1908 and 1927 - when he joined his great uncle on the London to Brighton run in a Model T van. He continued to look after the van after the event, and was left it when his great uncle died.

At the time, he was working on the family farm, but in 1989 when the recession hit, he decided to supplement the work with repairing and restoring Model Ts. He still lives with his wife Mary on the family farm, looking after 200 ewes and producing hay and silage for sale, but he told Farmers Weekly that she's the farmer, and he's just the boy.
The attractions

According to the Daily Mail he sells one car a week. Some are for the TV and film industry, while others are for collectors and hobbyists. He says customers love them not just for their looks, but also because they are simple to maintain, the parts are cheap, and there's very little to go wrong. He said: "They're like a giant Meccano set really".

They will set you back £10,000 each - which is a lot to pay for car with a top speed of 45mph (downhill with the wind behind you), and gas headlights that need to be lit with a match. On the plus side, however, they don't need road tax or an MOT.

Multi tasking farmers

He's not the first farmer to choose an interesting diversification in order to supplement income from traditional farming. Jason Barber, a farmer from West Dorset was trying to find a way to make more income from his dairy herd, and found the answer in creating the world's first pure milk vodka. His Black Cow brand was launched in 2012 and is now served everywhere from the River Cottage to Claridges.

Sharon Earp from Leicestershire, meanwhile, married a fifth generation farmer, and decided the dairy farm could benefit from diversification. In 2011 she opened the Dandilion Hideaway, the ultimate glamping experience. She still runs it alongside the dairy farm.

Then there's Dundale farm, in Tunbridge Wells. The farmer moved to the area from Scotland, and decided to convert one of the cowsheds into a curling rink, because he couldn't find anywhere to practice his favourite sport. In 2004 it became Britain's first dedicated curling rink. It's currently the base for the England Men's and Women's team, but he said it's not a major money spinner because he can't get many curlers on the ice at the same time, so it just breaks even.

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Ford Model T: How to Drive the Car That Got the World Moving
Ford Model T: How to Drive the Car That Got the World Moving