Last updated : 19th August 2014


Many thanks to Andrew Brooks, John O'Connell for info on the 1981-season vehicles, a chap called Simon for additional info on the cars' colours, John Hammond for the pics taken in 1999, "The Minister" and (especially) Bob Rocca for info in registration numbers and other miscellaneous info!




Three of the Ford Capris used in the series, now restored and on display at the 1999 Ford Fair in Oxford

As much a part of the show as the stars themselves, were the cars used throughout the series. Although most people will, of course, recall the Ford Capris, Granadas and Escort RS2000, early episodes from the first season used a variety of British Leyland vehicles. Given that filming of The New Avengers often suffered shooting delays due to the poor reliability of these cars, it seems strange that Mark 1 should have continued with them into The Professionals. However right from the start plans were afoot to draft in Ford but negotiations were not completed until several episodes had already been filmed. Commenting on his relations with various motor companies, Brian Clemens had this to say: "When we needed a motorbike for Jo (Lumley), we went to a Japanese manufacturer and within hours they replied 'How many bikes do you want? What colours?' ... If we gave them a little time they would be pleased to produce a special 'Purdey' bike for our use! In that one incident I realised why the Japanese industry was growing so rapidly - and the British one was doomed to oblivion. Later, on The Professionals, we involved Ford - a US company - and again received excellent and professional treatment." (Quote courtesy of 'The Ultimate Avengers' by Dave Rogers.)

Being a mass-market company, Ford was also able to supply many of the vans, pick-ups, etc required by the production team as they moved between filming locations. And, as many of us know, the British motor industry was indeed going into decline at the time. Besides, the self-concious "Britishness" of the Avengers shows was deemed far less important this time around.

The publicly-owned British Leyland underwent radical changes throughout the latter 1970s and 1980s. But despite a drastic reduction of its range to concentrate on improving its better models and the funding of new ones, the conglomerate's image was badly tarnished and buyers continued to opt for Ford or Vauxhall (General Motors' UK arm) models... many probably not realising that their taxes were being used to keep BL afloat! In 1986 the British Government decided to sell it off. Aircraft manufacturer British Aerospace acquired Austin Rover Group (as BL was then known) at a controversially low price and promptly made eighty percent of the workforce redundant! In the years that followed the cars' quality improved dramatically but buyers still stayed with the competition, particularly as they could afford to offer huge discounts that ARG could never hope to match. In 1994 Rover Group (the Austin moniker having been dropped) was sold on to BMW, who made no secret of the fact they saw the Mini as the ideal way of penetrating the small car market. But the German manufacturer failed to invest in effective marketing and newer, more efficient factory technology for Rover Group, which continued to make a loss. BMW decided to close down Rover Group completely in 2000, though unsurprisingly took the Mini for itself. But a last-minute management buyout (for ten pounds!!!) saw Rover Group not only split from BMW but continue to produce outstanding cars. The company decided to revive an old sporting brand and after another rename became known as name MG-Rover. A much smaller, more focussed workforce appeared to be well on the way to turning around its fortunes, particularly with the legacy left to them by BMW: the Rover 75 model. Tragically Rover found itself in a Catch-22 situation: starting with relatively little capital, it was unable to fund development of newer designs. While cars from other manufactuers benefited from accelerating technology in areas of performance, handling and safety, Rover's old dogs were increasingly seen as outmoded and uncompetitive. Inevitably sales slumped which, of course, meant even less money to develop new models. In April 2005 Rover was declared bankrupt and, in massive debt to customers, dealers and suppliers, its management is currently the subject of a Government investigation. In a last-ditch attempt to save the company, designs for its current range were sold to a Chinese manufacturer, so we may yet see Rover cars back on the street.

Detailed below are all the main vehicles used by the stars. There are some exceptions such as the two Leyland Princess models Gordon drove in 'Private Madness' and 'Female Factor' plus the blue Ford Cortina Mk IV used by Bodie in 'Everest was Also Conquered' but as these were seen just briefly, I don't think they really count!

A word from Martin Shaw:

"These cars really got hammered as they spent most of their lives in second gear with the revs off the clock doing all those stunts!"

Incidentally for links to various Ford-related car clubs, try this link, courtesy of Jamie Stoutt.

SPECIAL NOTE: Courtesy of Graeme Jamieson, I've recently added a new section, "Last DVLA Notification", for each car. The Drivers Vehicle and Licensing Authority handles the registration of vehicles and every car must be registered annually following a routine road-worthiness test. When a car no longer continues to be registered this generally means it has either been taken off the road (possibly for restoration) or it has been scrapped. Scrappings are ideally explicitly notified to the DVLA but this is not a legal requirement and, therefore, happens infrequently. With one exception, none of the Professionals cars has ever been officially notified as being scrapped but its a foregone conclusion that many of the "missing" ones have been.

WARNING: It has recently come to my attention that the UK's Drivers Vehicle Licensing Authority issued PNO641T, OAR576W, UOO303T and OWC827W as legitimate registration numbers. These were the "fakes" seen on the white Escort RS2000 and three of the Capris in the series - see below. In order to raise additional funding, the DVLA have begun a programme of auctioning off previously-unreleased numbers. Technically there is no reason why they can't issue the numbers in question - although us fans think of them as being "fake", they were actually "reserved". Twenty-five years later it is perhaps understandable that nobody at DVLA would realise the significance of these numbers. And, in fact, why should their official release be a problem? Well it's just possible that whoever bought them (and the DVLA understandably will not release the successful bidder's details) may have realised their significance and even now is looking for a RS2000 and/or Capris to be passed off as "genuine" Professionals cars. DVLA have been made aware of this potential fraud. (Huge thanks to John O'Connell for spotting this one and Bob Rocca for his tireless investigations!)






Car: Rover P6 2000 Automatic
Colour: Rio Brown
Licence Plate: EMK 760J (Genuine)
Main Driver: Bodie and/or Doyle
Episodes: 'Old Dog with New Tricks', 'Long Shot'
Last DVLA notification: March 1990
Comments:

The P6 is considered to be the "last of the great Rovers" by fans of the marque. It began its life in 1963 and the car used in the series appears to be a 1970 model. It also made a brief appearance in the Sweeney 2 film.

Although pretty solid and reliable with commendable performance (particularly in 3500 guise!), the P6 did suffer from notable rusting, though the major body panels were easily replaceable (though spares availability these days is questionable). However with a complex rear suspension system that was prone to fail and expensive to fix, nobody was surprised when its successor, the SD1, adopted more conventional mechanicals.




Car: Rover 3500 SD1
Colour: Turmeric Yellow
License Plate: MOO 229R (False)
Main Driver: Cowley
Episodes: 'Old Dog with New Tricks', 'Killer with a Long Arm', 'Where the Jungle Ends'
Last DVLA notification: December 1985
Comments:

Rover's replacement for the P6 in 1976, this futuristic Ferrari / Citroen-inspired design was an astonishing car from such a lowly manufacturer as BL. Unfortunately the usual build gremlins, poor quality, rusting, unreliable smaller engines and, initially, consequences of using an inexperienced workforce soon revealed the car's true nature. Although it did improve somewhat throughout its ten years of manufacture, BL was always a long way from fettling the car completely. Failing to shake off its reputation, they found the SD1 difficult to sell and used examples were always very cheap.

Unsurprisingly there are very few SD1s still running now. For anyone considering one of these cars, the only models to go for are the post-1984 3500 Vanden Plas or SE variants. But you'll probably need to lavish the car with regular, expensive spares.... assuming, that is, that they are even available anymore! Forget the sporty 3500 Vitesse version 'cos this one's engine had been "tweaked", leading to all sorts of problems! The 2600, 2300 and 2000 engines are too unreliable and/or too poor-performing to even consider.

The car driven by Gordon appears to be the same one as used by Patrick Macnee in The New Avengers (where the registration number, which was genuine, was MOC 229P). Despite all the reliability problems with this pre-production car, it seems Mark 1 elected to hold on to it until tying up the deal with Ford. Interestingly the Rover subsequently turned up in a few early Return of the Saint episodes. (Thanks to Bob Rocca)

It is assumed that this car was scrapped many years ago.

If you want to know a lot more about the SD1 then I can thoroughly recommend Karen Pender's "Rover SD1 The Complete Story". It is an excellent 200-page documentary on the rise and fall of this controversial car. The book charts the car's developmental history (the project started in 1969!!) right through to the Vitesse versions and ultimate replacement by the even dodgier Rover 800! Although obviously a fan of the car, Pender is certainly not blind to its myriad faults. The book can be ordered through Amazon UK or Amazon US.

Anyway, just look at Cowley's number plate - quite apt, wouldn't you say?!




Car: Triumph TR7
Colour: Pageant Blue
Licence Plate: OOM 734R (Genuine)
Main Driver: Doyle
Episodes: 'Private Madness, Public Danger', 'The Female Factor'
Last DVLA notification: June 1986
Comments:

Has a fair cult following (and, in the late 1980's, decent ones changed hands for between GBP4500 and GBP6000) but is generally deemed as being yet another BL disaster. Essentially dodgy electrics and seized engines plagued the car's reputation.




Car: Triumph Dolomite Sprint
Colour: White
Licence Plate: POK 79R (Genuine)
Main Driver: Bodie and/or Doyle
Episodes: 'The Female Factor', 'Private Madness, Public Danger', 'Killer with a Long Arm', 'Heroes', 'Where the Jungle Ends', 'Long Shot'
Last DVLA notification: Dec 1985
Comments:

Believed to have been scrapped. One of the few decent cars produced by BL throughout the seventies the range lasted until 1981. The Sprint variant boasted its own, specially-designed engine that was the first mass-market 16-valve unit and returned a whopping 130bhp. Still quite a few nice ones floating around in the UK, though, unlike the larger Triumphs and the 1960s models, never really considered a collector's piece. (Thanks to Glen Rea for additional info.)



Car: Ford Granada Mk II 2.0 L
Colour: Sahara Beige
Licence Plate: VHK 456S (Genuine)
Main Driver: Cowley
Episodes: 'Heroes', 'Close Quarters', 'Stakeout', 'Look After Annie'
Last DVLA notification: August 1991
Comments:

Cowley's car may be the same one as used in the Sweeney episode 'One of Your Own' (Thanks to Sam Davis)

The then newly-launched Mark II Granada was a fine piece of German engineering and really should have been regarded with the similar respect to BMW and Mercedes, for its build quality, strength and reliability were just about as good.

The Mark II is considered to be the "classic" of all the Granada incarnations. With power steering, air-con, leather upholstery and electric everything, a nice 2.8i Ghia X Executive is still much sought-after by fans of the big Fords, yet a 1985 model can often be picked up for just 1000GBP. Major failing points seem to be limited to the automatic gearbox, which tends to need replacing at around 80,000 miles. Although electrics fail with age, most problems are usually down to rusty or broken contacts, rather than actual component failure, and hence are easily sorted.

Additional notes: the Mark II was replaced in 1985 with a radically different and more aerodynamically-shaped version. Although the "jelly-mould" Mark III never quite won the same level of acclaim, it offered many refinements and improvements and certainly wasn't the complete disaster that was the Mark IV model (now renamed Scorpio to bring it into line with European versions) that succeeded it in 1995. The Scorpio's controversial, American looks (rumour indicates that Ford UK essentially had the car forced upon them by their parent company) and questionable reliability led to a sales disaster in the UK. Just 6,000 were sold in 1998 (compared to almost ten times that number of Mark II sales in recession-ravaged 1979) and its main competitor, Vauxhall's fabulous-looking Omega, outsold it by five to one. So the Scorpio was dropped completely in early 1999. Ford claimed that the Scorpio "always achieved its sales targets" which probably means that, correctly anticipating a muted response, they never produced the car in large numbers anyway. Either way, they never gave an official reason for dropping the car. Currently Ford UK have no plans to market a replacement, though the Mondeo Mark III (itself a descendant of the Cortina) is about the same size, while UK factories are now involved in production of Jaguar cars - a marque Ford US acquired from British Leyland in 1986.



Car: Ford Capri Mk II 3.0 S
Colour: Silver
Licence Plate: SOO 636R (Genuine)
Main Driver: Doyle
Episodes: 'Everest was Also Conquered', 'Stakeout', 'When the Heat Cools Off', 'Klansmen'
Last DVLA notification: 1985
Comments:

The Professionals and the Ford Capri are synonymous with each other. This particular car was fitted with a special bodykit that came as part of a host of extras known as the "X Pack" and used extensively by Ford in their advertisements during 1977. It also sports an extremely rare set of Ronal alloy wheels. (Thanks to Trevor Alder, Nigel Hopes and Glyn Ward for info.)

It is rumoured that this car is still in existence, repainted black but languishing away in dereliction in somebody's garage! It hasn't been taxed since 1985. (Thanks to Mark Gibbon and Gill Roche)

After 18 years and three incarnations, the entire Capri range was killed off by Ford in 1987 a great loss to all us 'Henry' fanatics! The popularity of this range has never quite died and thousands can still be seen on UK roads. Mint-condition late-seventies 3.0S models can be had for a minimum of 2,500GBP and ads for these are getting scarce as owners proudly hold on to 'em! Interestingly the equivalent Ghia variants tend to be notably cheaper, while the limited edition Brooklands 280 model from 1987 (sunroof, power steering, electric windows, leather upholstery) could set you back ten grand!

Overall Capris were a pretty simple beast and consequently not much should go wrong with a well-maintained one, though rust-proofing on the mid-1980s cars seems to have been hit-and-miss. Although it might be tempting to go for the more fuel-efficient 1600 engine, most of these will have been thrashed. Perhaps the best compromise is the 2-litre variant, though the 2.8-injection and 3.0 units will prove far more rewarding and surely worth the additional expense! How to choose between the big units? Well it probably makes sense to go for the 2.8 as it is a more modern design that is lighter on juice and for which spares are readily available. However many fans claim the 3-litre unit is more hard-wearing and prefer its wonderful "growl". Of course, a true Professionals fan wouldn't been seen in anything else!

Fans of the car may be interested in a book recommended by fan Paul Beresford, which can be ordered from Amazon: Essential Ford Capri. Paul also mentioned and Capri: Biography of the Mark 3, available exclusively through the Capri Club International.

Additional note: the US-designed Probe, launched in 1994, was marketed as a "Capri for the nineties" but its American styling, cramped interior, price and very name resulted in disappointing sales in many countries. After just three years it was dropped (at least in the UK perhaps other countries continue to market it?). Ford UK now have the far more agreeable Cougar, which is essentially a sports coupe version of the hugely popular Mondeo family hatchback. It's unlikely that they will launch an all-new sports design in the near future.



Car: Ford Capri Mk II 3.0 Ghia Automatic
Colour: Arizona Gold - see comments
Licence Plate: PNO 580R (Genuine)
Main Driver: Bodie
Episodes: 'Close Quarters', 'Everest was Also Conquered', 'When the Heat Cools Off', 'Look After Annie', 'Klansmen'
Last DVLA notification: November 1987
Comments

The post-Professionals history of this car is a bit of a mystery. Its ownership immediately after the 1977 season is unknown and it is thought that the car was taken off the road - indeed, possibly scrapped - in 1985 as it was no longer registered with the Drivers Vehicle and Licensing Authority (DVLA). However recently it reappeared on the DVLA's records, (re-)registered by a person living just a few miles away from yours truly. We assumed that the car had simply been in storage for fifteen years, undergoing restoration. With the car now apparently back on the road, I am keeping an eye open for it! Incidentally the colour identification given above is correct, even though the car is closer to a bronze shade!



Car: Ford Escort Mark II RS2000
Colour: Diamond White
License Plate: PNO 641T (False) / PNO 672R (Genuine)
Main Driver: Doyle
Episodes: 1978 and 1979 episodes
Comments:

Even today this particular model of Escort remains a cult classic and commands four figure values - the ordinary ones are worth less than a few hundred quid!

Despite the post-July 1978 registration, Doyle's car was actually of 1976 vintage: the FORD lettering on the rear (rather than the blue oval badge) being the biggest give-away, plus a few other subtle decal designs such as the wide waistline stripes. The car's genuine number was PNO 672R.

Jason Mitchell, a member of the RS Owners club, and John O'Connell tell me there were rumours that the Doylemobile was stolen (!) just prior to commencement of shooting on the 1980 episodes, which led to the production team supplying both lads with Capris. However it's far more likely that the car was simply returned to Ford after shooting the 1979 episodes, particularly as LWT were on the brink of axing the series anyway. When the show was reprieved in March 1980, the official line is that as Ford were about to launch a radical new version of the Escort range, they were concerned that Martin Shaw would be seen driving an "old" model and so supplied Mark 1 with another Capri (it would be some time before they would launch a sports version of the Mark III Escort).

The tilt-slide sunroof appears to be a unique factory-fit add-on but if you take a careful look at 'Rogue' - the first ep to be actually filmed for the second season - you'll see the car doesn't have this highly desirable extra at that point. However by the time the next segment was filmed, 'Hunter/Hunted', it has been fitted. If you consider that the car is not seen until towards the end of this ep, I'm guessing that it was away having the sunroof fitted while Doyle chased about in the Jag. The reason for adding the sunroof was that the dark interior of the car made filming from inside it problematic. (Thanks to Ash George and Classic Ford magazine.)

Of all the famous vehicles seen in the show, the RS has proved the most sought-after and elusive. Frustratingly neither Mark 1 nor LWT retained useful documentation on the series which would have revealed the car's true identity. But the sunroof should have made it easy to track down were it still around. Efforts by fans proved fruitless and many of us suspected it had been scrapped many years ago. Yet from 1979 to 1995 the car actually passed through the hands of many people - most of them oblivious to its history...

Why did the car disappear for all these years? What appears to have happened is that specialist RS dealer called Chris Blyth acquired the car once it left the show in late 1979 and put it on his forecourt in Norwich. Advertising it as "The Professionals" car it was sold to a private buyer for almost the same amount of money as a brand new model, despite it being three years old by this time! (Another fan, Tim Humphreys-Jones, almost bought it but then remembered what a thrashing the car received on-screen!) A few years later the car was sold on again and this is where it slipped into obscurity. The new owner, although aware of the car's history, does not appear to have mentioned this when he sold it on himself in the mid-1980s. For this reason the string of owners over the next ten years were oblivious to its Professionals connection - not too surprising given that no Professionals fans knew the car's genuine registration number.

Over the years the car naturally deteriorated and was taken off the road in 1995, the owner at that time intending to restore it. For whatever reason this didn't happen and the chap decided to sell the car "as is" in Novemebr 2003...

A local newspaper carried a "for sale" advert for an RS2000 of 1976 vintage. Not too unusual, except that the then-owner happened to mention the sunroof. By happy accident a Professionals fan - who subsequently became the new owner - discovered that the car was indeed the very same one used in the show...

Close inspection revealed that the sunroof appears to be unique, being an extra-large custom-made job (not, as previously thought, the same design used on Granadas of the time). Most surprisingly it is electrically powered. The other giveaway was the loudspeaker mounted in its sun-visor - still there today!

At the time of this update (July 2004), the car is undergoing extensive restoration work. I hope to be able to publish news and pictures of the project in progress!

The entire Escort range was replaced in 1980 with the useful Mark III hatchbacks but a slide into mediocrity and questionable quality for the UK-built car which Ford have only just started to turn round. After numerous revamps and relaunches, the Escort name was abandoned in 1998 and replaced with the Focus: a car whose startling appearance and improved build quality is helping to re-establish Ford's mid-range credibility.



Car: Ford Capri Mark III 3.0S
Colour: Strato Silver
Licence Plate: UOO 303T (False - see notes below)
Main Driver: Bodie
Episodes: 1978 and 1979 episodes
Comments:

The silver Capri seen in the 1978 and 1979 episodes is actually two different cars. The first one bore a registration plate of VHK 495S. This was sadly written off in a traffic accident in 1988 but lives on to this day, albeit with a replacement body shell...

The genuine number for the 1979 car is COO 251T, which is actually briefly seen in 'The Madness of Mickey Hamilton', the first ep to be filmed for that season. The crew obviously forgot to change the plates! COO 251T is still running today...


The 1978 (second season) car, restored during 2014. Thanks to its new owner, Ian from London.


The 1979 (third season) car, pictured in 1999.


Ford dropped the 3-litre engines in July 1981 by the faster, leaner 2.8-injection units.

NB: The UOO303T plate was issued as a genuine number by the DVLA in 2003 and is currently sported by a blue Alfa Romeo in the Norwich area. (Thanks to Tracey Lusher-Chamberlain)



Car: Ford Granada Mark II 2.8 Ghia Automatic *
Colour: Jupiter Red
Licence Plate: YHJ 766T (False) - see notes
Main Driver: Cowley
Episodes: 1978 and 1979 episodes
Last DVLA notification: December 1992
Comments:

Two identical cars were used here in the 1978 and '79 episodes respectively. The true identities were VHK 518S and FEV 24T. The latter car - whose genuine plate was accidentally left on the vehicle in a brief scene in 'A Hiding to Nothing') - was supplied just prior to the third filming block. The present whereabouts of both cars is unknown. (Thanks to Bob Rocca)

*The 1979 car had the fuel-injected variety of engine - note the "2.8i" rear badging.



Car: Ford Granada Mark II 2.8i Ghia Automatic
Colour: Midnight Blue - see comments
Licence Plate: OWC 822W (False)
Main Driver: Cowley
Episodes: 1980 episodes
Last DVLA notification: December 1993
Comments

It looks black on-screen but it apparently it was actually dark blue. Genuine license plate was OWC 822V



Car: Ford Capri Mark III 3.0S
Colour: Solar Gold
Licence Plate: OAR 576W (False)
Main Driver: Doyle
Episodes: 1980 episodes
Comments:

The genuine license plate is OAR 576V. Recently restored, it is pictured here in 2005 (Many thanks to the current owner for the pics!).



Car: Ford Capri Mark III 3.0S
Colour: Strato Silver
Licence Plate: OWC 827W (False)
Main Driver: Bodie
Episodes: 1980 episodes
Comments:

The genuine license plate is OWC 827V. Fortunately the car survives to this day, although little is left of its original body and parts, having undergone extensive restoration to bring it back to concourse condition.



Car: Ford Capri Mark III 3.0S
Colour: Tibetan Gold
Licence Plate: VHK 11W (Genuine)
Main Driver: Doyle
Episodes: 1981 episodes
Comments:

This particular car was rediscovered by Alan Jarvis in 1994, having been resprayed white. (Thanks to Mark Osborne, Mark Gibbon and Bob Rocca)


Pictured in 1999



Car: Ford Capri Mark III 3.0S
Colour: Strato Silver
Licence Plate: VHK 12W (Genuine)
Main Driver: Bodie
Episodes: 1981 episodes
Comments:

Similarly it is rumoured that this car is a re-registration of OWC 827V but, again, this is denied by others. Alan Jarvis found the car in 1994 under a pile of old tyres with most of the roof paint missing due to a leaky battery being dumped on top of it!


The restored car at the 1999 Ford Fair.



Car: Ford Granada Mark II 2.8i Ghia Automatic
Colour: Midnight Blue
Licence Plate: UJN 696W (Genuine)
Main Driver: Cowley
Episodes: 1981 episodes
Comments:

This car was recently hunted down by fan Kevin Wilcock who tragically discovered it just three days AFTER it had been put through the crusher (Thanks to Kevin, Ash George and Sue Curtis for info.)