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Made in the Midlands, transported to Cyprus, pitched into war and surrounded by raging forest fires, one British-made car is still going strong 30 years on, reports Ros Dodd

Hikmet Ulucam's Morris Traveller

It started life sedately enough in the car manufacturing factories of the Midlands. A 1968 Morris Traveller now up for sale in North Cyprus has faced a baptism of fire - literally - since leaving British shores nearly three decades ago.

The vehicle was bought new by Dr John Guthrie, then living in the island village of Bellapais, who used it to join a British military convoy escorting UK nationals to safety during the Turkish military intervention in Cyprus's 1974 Greek-prompted civil war.

Dr Guthrie abandoned the car in the coastal town of Kyrenia - leaving the keys in the ignition - before he and wife Vivian were evacuated.

On his return to North Cyprus three months later, Dr Guthrie discovered the Morris Traveller parked in his garage, with the keys still in the ignition, untouched by the conflict.

Nearly two decades later, in 1995, local artist and photographer Hikmet Ulucam bought the vehicle from Dr Guthrie's daughter, Deirdre, who still lives in Bellapais. That year, however, a new disaster struck - devastating forest fires raged through North Cyprus.

"I'd owned the Morris for just a few months when the fire reached the village," Hikmet told the English-language Cyprus Today newspaper this week. "Everything around the car was burned to a cinder - even the grass underneath it caught fire - and it was a miracle the petrol tank didn't explode. It was virtually unscathed under a protective sheet I'd put over it."

The Morris Traveller, although in need of repainting, is still roadworthy and has clocked up just 43,017 miles. "It has a current MoT, original handbook and 1968 receipt from the Morris agent CD Hay and Sons of Nicosia," Hikmet told the paper.

Hikmet, who is selling the Morris for £5,000, can be contacted on (00 90) 533 866 0057


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