Man quits his job to deal vintage cars he loved on Heartbeat as a boy

Man who fell for vintage police cars as he watched Heartbeat as a boy grows up to make his living buying and selling them

  • Joseph Gabrielli, of Derby, avidly viewed the ITV drama, set in 1960s Yorkshire
  • He fell in love with the Ford Anglia police cars and now collects them for a living
  • Father-of-one gave up his railway engineer job to pursue his car passion full time 

A 26-year-old has ditched his job as a railway engineer to become a full-time vintage car dealer after collecting the police vehicles he fell in love with as a child while watching Heartbeat.

Joseph Gabrielli, of Derby, Derbyshire, avidly viewed the ITV drama, set in 1960s Yorkshire, and was transfixed by the blue and white Ford Anglia police car which often appeared.  

Now, after amassing his own eight-strong vintage collection, Joseph and his wife Faye, who have a 15-month-old daughter, Beatrice, like to dress up in period police uniform and give their vehicles a spin at classic car shows – as well as rent them out to film studios and weddings. 

While he has spent £20,000 on his collection, Joseph believes he can fetch upwards of £25,000 for each of his models due to their rarity.  

The father-of-one bought his first Anglia in 2015, a former Leicestershire Police CID vehicle that had been languishing in a barn for 39 years.

He thought he was getting a standard Ford Anglia but during the restoration found holes for the police plates, radio and aerial.

The paint was sanded away to reveal Royal crowns, and Joseph then got hold of a full car history outlining its previous use.

Then two years ago he acquired and restored a 1960s Ford Anglia panda car which was driven by Lancashire Police.

Joseph Gabrielli, of Derby, Derbyshire, avidly viewed the ITV drama, set in 1960s Yorkshire, and was transfixed by the blue and white Ford Anglia police car which often appeared (Pictured with wife Faye)

Joseph and his wife Faye, who have a 15-month-old daughter, Beatrice, like to dress up in period police uniform (pictured) when giving their vehicles a spin at classic car shows 

Joseph has spent about £20,000 on his collection, but he is now able to keep costs down as he has learnt mechanic skills to do his own restorations.

Joseph believed the restored Anglias would be worth upwards of £25,000 each on the market due to their rarity (pictured in Anglia with wife Faye)

Joseph dressed head to toe in vintage police wear among his Ford Anglia police cars in his garage in Derby

Last year, he added a third to his collection – the last surviving Metropolitan Police Ford Anglia, which had not moved from its London driveway since 1972.

The rusting vehicle, which still had its original tyres, was carefully placed into a trailer and transported to his home.

Joseph has also converted a regular ‘rust-bucket’ Ford Anglia into a replica 1960s deluxe panda police car, which he hires out for film productions and weddings. 

The cars are kept in a new specially-built garage which also contains cabinets filled with Ford Anglia memorabilia.

He said he has spent about £20,000 on his collection, but he is now able to keep costs down as he has learnt mechanic skills to do his own restorations.

Joseph believed the restored Anglias would be worth upwards of £25,000 each on the market due to their rarity.

When he started his collection, he worked as an engineer in the railway industry.

However, his passion has become his job and he is now a classic car dealer who supplies vintage cars for film.

Joseph, who owns eight police cars including models from 2010, said: ‘My interest was sparked as a child watching Heartbeat on a Sunday night.

‘I remember the blue and white police Ford Anglia in the show from the 1960s and I loved it.

‘Six years ago, a friend of mine was doing a barn conversion for a woman in Leicestershire and they found six cars just sitting there, including a Ford Anglia.

‘I contacted the woman and paid £2,900 for it thinking it was a regular Ford Anglia. It had been sitting there for 39 years but was still in ok condition considering.

‘During the restoration, we found holes where the police plates, radio and aerial would have been, and when we sanded the paint down we found Royal crowns.

‘After getting hold of a full history of the car, I found out it was used by Leicester Police CID in the 1960s.

When Joseph started his collection, he worked as an engineer in the railway industry – a job he has since quit (Pictured: Joseph and Faye in their vintage police car)

The cars are kept in a new specially-built garage which also contains cabinets filled with Ford Anglia memorabilia (Pictured behind the couple)

Joseph, who owns eight police cars including models from 2010, said: ‘My interest was sparked as a child watching Heartbeat on a Sunday night.’

The father-of-one bought his first Anglia in 2015, a former Leicestershire Police CID vehicle that had been languishing in a barn for 39 years (Pictured: Ford Anglia in Joseph’s garage)

‘Since then, I’ve restored a Ford Anglia Police Panda which was used in the 1960s by Lancashire Police so officers could cover a larger beat.

‘Then, last year, someone I know said their father in law had an old Metropolitan Police Ford Anglia on his driveway and it had not moved in over 40 years.

‘When we went down there it was in a terrible, rotten state and it took months to plan how to move it because we didn’t want it to fall apart.

‘We got it back here in a trailer and it needs to be restored.

‘I reckon I’ve spent £20,000 on buying and restoring the Ford Anglias, but they could be worth £25,000 each.

‘When I started I knew nothing about restorations but over time I’ve learnt the mechanic skills and can save money doing them myself.

‘My wife gets very involved – she loved Heartbeat too – and we take the cars to shows where they turn heads.

‘I used to work in the railways, which I hated, and now I’m a classic car dealer so it has become my life.’

Heartbeat, set in the fictional village of Aidensfield, North Riding, ran for 18 series from 1992 and 2010, attracting over 13million viewers at its peak.

Joseph runs the Facebook page On-The-Beat Classic car hire. 

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