Offbeat Video

By Joe Pagnelli and James Speakman


An Only Fools and Horses fan has spent £4000 to convert his narrowboat into Del Boy’s iconic van from the hit sitcom.

Tony Vaughan was inspired to transform his 53ft boat into a canal-going Reliant Regal after a pal’s suggestion at the pub last September – and four pints of Guinness.

Retired engineer Tony, 61, snapped up the canary yellow vehicle shell for £200 and spent six hours a day for a month converting the boat into a vehicle the wheeler dealer himself would be proud of.

Tony from Stockport, Greater Manchester, said: “Making this Only Fools boat has been a laugh for me, I’ve absolutely loved it.

“I love seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they see my boat come through.

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“If you watch one episode of the show and then watch it a couple weeks after you see something you’ve missed.

“So there’s always something new to discover – the one liners are so smartly written and I just love it.

“Trigger is quite amusing because wherever he comes on he says ‘alright Dave?’ I always laugh at that.

“The show just makes me laugh. If somebody doesn’t laugh at Only Fools and Horses there’s something seriously wrong with them.”

Dad-of-four Tony bought the boat for £30,000 eight years ago and has splashed out a further £30,000 modernising it.

Tony said: “When I bought the boat it was already called ‘Trotters Independent’ and we had so many comments when we were in Derbyshire that I decided to keep the boat’s name.

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“When my mate suggested putting a car on it after I’d had four pints of Guinness I thought it wasn’t a terrible idea.

“Two months later I’d started looking for a car to put on the back of my boat.”

Grandad-of-four Tony tracked down a seller from Haywood, Staffordshire, flogging the shell of a yellow Reliant Robin who wanted to keep the engine.

Tony said: “I struggled to find a car because some people didn’t like what I was going to do with the car.

“I came across a car for sale where this chap wanted the engine and I just wanted the body, so we came to an arrangement and I ended up with the body of the car.”

Tony had help at the weekends from boat builder stepson Richard Pemberton, 36, who joined him for eight hours a day helping to renovate the boat.

It involved measuring the boat and assessing which elements of the car would fit in relation to the boat.

Tony said: “All the work was quite technical, which is why I had to get Richard involved as he knows how to build boats.

“There was a lot of work to do between cutting things, welding and working with fibreglass.

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“It still had to look like the car, so the bonnet at the front is on the same plane as the back.

“It’s just exactly the way it was when it was a car – just a bit longer and with a boat in between.

“The most exhausting and difficult thing was to work in between the weather because you’re on the canal, so you really feel its effects.

“The wind and rain can be scary. I nearly fell into the canal a few times barely holding on to parts of the boat, but falling into the canal would have been worth it to get this done.

“I was determined to get it done and the boat kept getting better and better, so it wasn’t difficult to motivate myself to keep working.

“The more I work on it the more ideas pop into my head as well.

“I’ve just installed a new tiller system, which makes it easier to steer, but I won’t be adding any more Only Fools and horses additions. I think it’s all sorted now.”

Tony bought the narrowboat eight years ago and moved into it permanently a year later.

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Partner of 18 years Pamela Allen, 62, joins him at the weekends but doesn’t live on the boat with him.

Tony said: “I live on the boat and have been living on it for the past seven years. I love it because I get my peace and quiet, and thankfully I never get sea sick.

“I’ve got everything in my boat that you’d have in a house.

“My home essentials include my fire, central heating, cooker oven, microwaves, fridge, and obviously Guinness.

“I moved into the boat because I got fed up of living in a house. I’ve wanted to do this for about 20 years, and I thought ‘I’m not getting any younger and if I don’t do it now I never will’.

“I’m glad I did, it’s been one of the best decisions of my life.

“I think I feel the happiest when I’m on the boat. It’s relaxing, and you can lose yourself in your thoughts.”

Tony, who’s seen the hit sitcom from beginning to end numerous times, said stepson Richard was doubtful that his plan would turn out as well as it has, but has been pleasantly surprised.

Tony said: “Richard was a bit sceptical at first about how it would work but the further we got into it then he was able to see my vision. He got quite into it himself.

“He’s definitely happy with how the boat turned out.

“DIY projects are a pet passion of mine, and there’s the added bonus that they also keep me away from mischief.

“If I’m working I can’t drink too much Guinness, although I will treat myself to a few after.

“People’s reactions bring a smile to the face, and people are always stopping by to take pictures.

“Making this Only Fools boat has been great, I’ve loved every minute.”