Iron Lady's rusty armour-plated bus sold at auction

There are better looking tin cans but they rarely have such a good pedigree as the rusty, armour-plated bus once used by Margaret Thatcher and sold in Britain for nearly £17,000 (20,000 euros, $26,000).

The 28-tonne "battle bus" was apparently built in the 1980s for the former prime minister's tour of Northern Ireland, the British-controlled province which at the time was a hotbed of sectarian violence.

At an auction on Thursday night it sold for £16,940 to a vehicle collector, beating its £10,000 guide price, according to Jonathan Humbert of JP Humbert Auctioneers in Northamptonshire, central England.

"There was immense interest in the bus," he said. "It sold to a spontaneous round of applause in the saleroom."

According to Humbert, the bus was commissioned by the British government and furnished with its own auxiliary generator and air supply, with the perhaps rather optimistic hope that it would be "chemical, biological and nuclear proof".

With room for 35 passengers, it was used for the Iron Lady herself and government ministers before being turned over to the army for troop deployments, although it only clocked up 28,000 kilometres (17,400 miles).