A British Army specification for a light truck was issued in the late 1940’s, inspired by the Jeep but able to perform in all theatres of operation of the British Army. It was considered important that a British-made vehicle was produced in order to reduce the reliance on US vehicles and the foreign expenditure that entailed.
The first production vehicle was completed on 1 September 1951. The Rolls-Royce-designed B40 four-cylinder engine of 2,838cc was fitted, the smallest of the standardised B-Range engines. Approximately half of the contract were to be basic vehicles known as Cargo trucks and the remainder were to be fitted with high-output generators and additional batteries in order to power radio equipment. A few were fitted with additional equipment for use as field ambulances, telephone line-laying vehicles or equipped with armour and a .303in Vickers medium machine gun or .303 Bren light machine gun utilising the built-in pintle mount forward of the windscreen, but the majority served as cargo/personnel carriers or were fitted with radios. As the Champ entered service it became apparent that although it had an outstanding cross-country performance, it was too expensive (£1,200 at 1951 prices), too complex and had limited use outside of the narrow field combat role for which it had been designed. Consequently, the contract with Austin was amended and finally prematurely terminated some 4,000 vehicles short of the 15,000 originally contracted.
This beautifully restored example, now in very good condition throughout represents a fantastic piece of British history.
Offered at No Reserve on 18th May 2019 at Chiswick House.