Lot 1958


1961 Austin Gypsy Fire Engine
Reg. no. 637 CLP
Chassis no. 8152
Engine no. 39-3899
Launched in 1958 as Austin’s riposte to the Land Rover, the Gipsy followed the unsuccessful Champ – which was a military vehicle at heart and had failed to catch on with the public, just 500 being sold. The Gipsy looked, on the surface, very much like its Rover competitor; however, underneath it boasted advanced all-round independent suspension using Flexitor rubber springs. In this respect it was similar to the Champ, but Austin had learnt from their mistakes – the Gipsy offered more protection from the elements, was cheaper, and the Champ’s hugely thirsty 2.8 litre 4-cylinder Rolls-Royce engine – originally designed in the early 1920s – was gone in favour of a low-compression version of the 2.2 litre engine from the A70. All this meant that a Gipsy was at least a match for a Land Rover, but sales were never as strong. When BMC and Rover merged in 1968, the Gipsy was cancelled to avoid internal competition. 21,208 had been produced. Now they are rare, due to their not-particularly-rustproof steel construction, and hard working lives.
This 1961 Gipsy fire engine was first registered to the Bertram Mills Circus, whose livery it still carries; transported around the country by train along with the rest of the circus, it is unlikely to have covered many miles. The attached trailer is also a very interesting item – built on an Austin Seven chassis, it is believed to have been built and used at Longbridge before the Second World War. Both have been restored, the Gipsy from 2007, with bills in the file for this, together with a V5c and an MOT valid until March next year.

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