IT WAS bought after an unlikely wartime romance more than six decades ago.

Now an un-restored Beetle, still in immaculate condition, is cementing its place in history as part of a new book.

For current owner John Spong, the treasured car has brought a lifetime of happiness to his family of self-confessed petrol heads.

It was purchased from Humphris in Oxford by his late uncle George in 1956 on the advice of his new son-in-law, a German prisoner of war who had fallen in love with his daughter Marie at a dance in Bury Knowle Park.

Oxford Mail:

Awkwardly for uncle George, he was working for Morris at the time and decided to keep the car hidden, instead choosing to cycle to work from his home in Headington Quarry.

The entire Spong family were evacuated to Oxford from their native east London in 1942 and worked in the city's factories.

Having helped recycle wrecked aeroplanes, George was kept on at Morris at the end of the war.

He passed the ownership of the car to his nephew upon his retirement in 1964 and it was brought back to east London where it has stayed ever since.

Mr Spong, now 80, said: "My uncle was kept on beyond his 65th birthday which was very rare.

"I remember when he retired he told me he intended to sell the car to a dealers and I was devastated.

"I said I would have bought it and we instantly made plans to get it back.

"I'd never even driven one before but it was a spur of the moment thing where I thought I just had to keep it in the family.

"Now my grandson is the only person who drives it as my eyesight has gone so it doesn't see the light of day very often.

"But I love it and if anything happened to it I'd be devastated.

"I'm so lucky to still have it after 53 years, it shows how well it was made."

The Spongs were one of the few families to travel to war-torn Germany after the war when they went back to visit the family of Marie's new husband, also called John.

He had been captured in France and was working on a farm near Islip when the couple met and fell in love.

After seeing them on the trip, George rushed straight home to buy a Beetle.

Mr Spong has won various awards for keeping the car is such a good condition and only once considered selling it when he gave up his driving licence in 2014 but describes there was a 'rebellion' in his family in response.

He is now lining up his grandson to inherit the vehicle and continue the family's relationship with the car.

The story is featured in a book by Adrian Flux Insurance about long term owners which is being unveiled at the Silverstone Classic.