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Lot 043: Austin Gipsy Fire Engine

Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles, Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers (27 November 2013)

The Austin Motor Company enjoyed a modicum of success with the Military spec Champ. It was complex and expensive to build, so its commercial suitability was limited, especially as it did 8mpg on a good day, but the Army ordered plenty of them and it gave the company a great deal of experience with off-road vehicles. The company decided to take Land Rover on 'head to head' with something a bit more straightforward. The ability to design from scratch lead to some innovative design features for the new car which was named the 'Gipsy' (spelt with an 'i' and not a 'y'). The suspension was fully independent and used Alex Moulton designed 'Flexitor' rubber springing coupled to trailing arms. These were discovered on a military trailer which was under test at MIRA, the system requiring no lubrication and being particularly suited to repeated bumps. The chassis was a simple ladder affair, made from oval section rather than square, with an all steel body adding to the rigidity of the whole structure, making the car particularly tough and strong. It was initially available with a 90 wheelbase, a longer 111 being introduced in 1962. Powered by a rugged 2.1-litre 4-cylinder Austin Hereford engine, it could also be ordered with a similarly sized diesel unit, both coupled to a 4-speed gearbox with transfer box to lower the ratios and add the front wheels into the equation. Far more comfortable than the cart sprung Land Rover, the Flexitor springs gave it a reputation for rather vague steering, eventually making way for more conventional semi elliptic springs later in its production run. In total 21,208 Gipsys left the works, the model being dropped only because of the British Leyland merger which brought the hugely successful Land Rover under the same roof. One of the criticisms levelled at the Gipsy was that there was always a limited list of specialist options, the company responding in 1961 with a range of factory built models which included a small fire tender. This prime example is one such model and in common with many such service vehicles has barely been used. The vendor advises us that the mileage indicated is only 3,800 miles, the condition of the vehicle certainly substantiating the odometer reading. It's every boy's dream to drive a shiny red fire engine. This modestly sized, modestly priced example in super condition looks like an excellent way to fulfil that ambition without getting too much grief from the better half!

Lot Details
Auction Classic Vintage Cars & Motorcycles
Brightwells Auctioneers and Valuers, Herefordshire
Lot Number043
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price£10500
Hammer Price (inc premium)-
Condition rating2
Registration numberNFL 538
Chassis number5944
Engine number5944
Engine capacity (cc)2200
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2