The firm said repossessed vans tended to be the dirtiest, “either because they have been taken suddenly from the operator or, in the case of voluntary terminations, some are simply used as skips”.

The most unusual items Manheim has found in vans include a full-size male mannequin, live ammunition, what Manheim describes as “a vibrating poker” (not the type found in a plant hire catalogue), hypodermic needles, top shelf magazines, a washing machine, a sword, asbestos, underwear and a three piece suite.

Manheim pointed out that buyers tend to avoid vans with dirty load areas and cabs that have not been cleared of rubbish prior to sale and added that the knock on effect is that the vendors of such vehicles will find customers shun their stock altogether.

But it is not just rubbish vendors leave in vans. Manheim said it has also come across valuable IT equipment, personal effects and sensitive documents that could prove damaging to businesses or individuals.

The auction firm has launched a Pre-sale Preparation best practice guide outlining key factors that can influence sales and values including sign writing removal, valeting and re-conditioning.