This vintage Spitfire is worth a record £4.5million – here’s why it could be a bargain

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Of course MH415 has this very important known continuing history, 95% of its structure is as it rolled out of the Castle Bromwich factory in September 1943. Only four wing spars, which would probably have been changed as part scheduled maintenance anyway, have been replaced. With the exception of shipping and maintenance, MH415 remained in a fully assembled state from the date of manufacture until its first, but not quite faithful, restoration began in 2015. Restoration 2.0 has started in April 2020; 55,000 hours of work later, it flies.

But part of anything and everything collectible is that little bit of mystery or uncertainty that comes with it. Many high-end collectible cars or motorcycles, for example, carry with them myths and legends about their creators, owners or their adventures – stories that add value both at the table and in the sales room. . As for the MH415 problem? Its restorer Richard Grace is “99.9% sure” that the engine currently powering this Spitfire is the original from 1943.

“There’s probably a £1m difference in value between an original Spitfire and a non-original. God knows what a matching-numbers plane is worth,” Grace says. “I’ve talked to all the historians and went through all the records over several years, but I can’t find any evidence to confirm this detail 100%.”

“All it will take is a random piece of paper coming out of somewhere with the serial numbers of the engines fitted to all the Spitfires in September 1943. That would add about half a million pounds, but that’s one of the perpetual frustrations of dealing with anything historical. In your gut, you know something is right, but these days it’s evidence, evidence, evidence.

MH415 (background) pictured in flight alongside its sister aircraft MH434 (foreground)

JOHN M DIBBS

Grace says the market for “warbirds” has gone crazy since mid-2021. Globally, investors have suddenly recognized that vintage aircraft, especially those with originality and provenance, are of great value compared to high-end collectible classic cars which in many cases, are considered to be at the top. This is across the price range of vintage aircraft, with entry level WWII aircraft such as trainers typically doubling to around £300,000 in 2021. People who had the money to buy a Spitfire in 2019 can no longer afford one. What was a restored, but not 100% original, Spitfire, £2.8m in 2019 is now £3.5m. There are approximately 70 airworthy Spitfires in the world.

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