Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Toilet seat from Concorde makes £1,800 at auction

A toilet seat from a Concorde has sold at auction for £1,800.

The luxury loo fitting was one of hundreds of items from the defunct supersonic jet to go under the hammer in France. See our posting of July 29th.

A machometer that registered the moment the plane broke the sound barrier fetched £17,000, far above the 2,000 pounds auction estimate.

Concorde made its maiden voyage in 1969, but was retired in 2003 amid ballooning costs and sagging ticket sales after a crash in 2000 that killed 113 people.

The plane's landing gear weighting just over a tonne was also sold for £17,000

The auction in Toulouse, France, home to plane maker Airbus and its predecessor company behind the Concorde, has been organised by a group of former engineers and executives.

More than 300 collectors and bargain hunters bid for 835 items - also including cabin seats, trays, cutlery and even a captain's headset - at the three-day sale, which ended on Monday.

French auctioneer Marc Labarbe conducted the auction in Toulouse, southern France.
Cockpit gauges, including air speed indicators and horizontal situation indicators and a cabin oven were also on offer.

"The pieces aren't just mechanical parts, they also have an aesthetic dimension - all while bearing one of the best trademarks: Concord." Said the auctioneer. But one item not on sale was the jet's trademark needle nose cone. Three of them were auctioned in London and Paris in 2003 and 2004 - the first of which went for more than a half-million dollars.

The latest auction was criticised by ecologists for selling Concorde parts that claimed were still radioactive, including cabin smoke detectors which they said contained Americium 241.

Airbus sold all the parts on sale to the non-profit Aerotheque association in 2003. The proceeds will go toward a planned airplane museum and park in Toulouse.

The plane, operated by Air France and British Airways, was once the ultimate symbol of jet-set glamour, whisking celebrities and high-powered executives across the Atlantic. With a cruising speed of 1,350 miles per hour, westbound travellers on board got to New York more than 90 minutes before they left Europe.

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