NELSON (New Zealand) (AFP) - A Chinese businessman paid what is believed to be a record 2.8 million New Zealand dollars (1.81 million US) for a World War II Spitfire at a collectors' auction here Sunday. Gao Yan Ming said the historic aircraft is to be donated to the China Aviation Museum in Beijing. There are fewer than 50 flyable Spitfires remaining in the world and they rarely appear on the open market. Television Three News said the price paid was an auction world record for a Spitfire. "It's an amazing machine. Very close to being flyable, just needs a bit of work on the engine and propeller and it'll be there, so it's a very rare item indeed," said Robert Glover of auctioneers Bonhams and Goodman. After seeing active service with the Royal Air Force, the 1945 Mark XVI Spitfire was donated to the United States Air Force and displayed at its Colorado Springs Acadamy until sold into private hands in 1997. For the past decade it has been owned by a New Zealand family who restored it to near flying condition. It was included in an auction of collectors' motor cars held at Nelson's Museum of Wearable Art and Classic Cars.