1952 Austin Champ


• Good solid base
• Sympathetically restored 
• Enthusiast owned 
• New brakes

The Background 

The brief was from the Department of War to build a vehicle which was four-wheel drive, capable of carrying a three crew team, have a wheelbase of 75” and a track of no more than 47” and when empty weigh no more than 590 Kg with a payload capacity of 299Kg. Just one manufacturer came up with the goods, this was the American Bantam.
The British Army started World War II with no Jeep’s and so were getting their jeeps from the United States, which, in the early days, were the American Bantam. When the War ended the British Army decided they needed a Jeep but it must be better. 
Designed by Sir Alec Issigonis (the designer of the Austin Mini) in the early 1950’s, the small military vehicle was designed as the replacement for the Jeep, which was to become known as the Austin Champ. British through and through, the Austin Champ was a British design, powered with a Rolls-Royce engine.

The design of the Champ was so impressive it was even capable of going up to six feet under water whilst drawing in air via the folding snorkel. The next unique feature for the 4x4 was it has 5 forward and 5 reverse gears, making it capable of achieving over 50mph in forwards or reverse. 

The History

The vendor has been the owner of this 1952 Champ since the beginning of 2021, a huge fan of military and 4x4 vehicles, and especially the Austin Champ, as these hold a special place with him. Not only does he already own one, but it’s the actual one he learned to drive in which he’s restored to its former glory. So when this one came up for sale, he couldn't resist adding another Champ to his collection.
With another Champ in his collection, the 4x4 has been given the once over for any corrosion. No real issues were found structurally with the vehicle and so the Champ has been given a sympathetic restoration. The mechanics side of things have been all checked over, and parts replaced or rebuilt as necessary. 

The idea was to keep as much of the originality as possible, whilst still being able to use it, which is exactly what the vendor has done over the summer months, using it as his daily commute to work. 
Family and kids come first and sometimes things have to give. Helping his daughter set up a new business venture, which involved losing some garage space, has meant the Champ has to go to a new owner. 

The Paperwork

The V5 is present and shows 4 previous keepers for the Champ. 
History for the Champ is quite thin on the ground. There are 3 previous MOT certificates from the early 1980’s and a letter saying it was purchased from an auction on 19 July 1962, where the original War office registration number was 45 BE 78.  
There are also one or two receipts and a Champ Spares catalogue. 

The Interior

Inside, the Champ is largely in the original condition as it was when new. 

The vinyl seats are believed to be the originals which are in good condition, with just a small tear in the passenger seat approximately 1.5” long. The vehicle has also retained the often removed rear seats which are again in good condition apart from a couple of small holes. 

On either side of the seats the brackets are in place to hold your rifle. The wooden lath floor is in good condition throughout, with just some paint missing on the driver’s side. One other thing to mention on the driver's side is the original fire extinguisher, but please don’t assume this will still work!
Onto the dash and the switchgear is all reported to be working as it should. This is helped by a rewire to part of the vehicle by a previous owner. The instruments are reported to be working and the odometer shows a reading of 19,460.  
The boot area is ply lined, and a drop down tailgate has been fitted at some point for easier loading. The frame for the canvas roof is there and retracted. The roof canvas is included with the vehicle, along with the side panel doors, but the seller says they are really past their best. Also included is a period Jerry can which is date stamped 1950. 

The Exterior

Finished in the Army green colour, the Champ has been repainted at some point and looks to have been done in the original or a very similar colour. This is a used military vehicle and so there are definitely some marks and small dinks, all of which build the character and patina of the Champ. 
The front grille fits and lines up well with the bonnet, the lights are free from any cracks. It has been fitted with indicators and some side lights to the wings at some point, but these don't really look out of place. 

The bonnet catches are both in good condition and hold the bonnet down securely. The two clips on top of the bonnet are there to secure the drop down windscreen.  The windscreen is in good condition with no obvious marks to mention. Corrosion is common on the windscreen frame, and this one just has some light surface rust from what we could see. 
Attached to the driver’s side is the shovel, in case of getting stuck, and there is a pick axe head attached to the passenger side wing. The driver's wing has the inlet for the air to which the snorkel would attach. 

The snorkel is included with the sale but was in storage at the time of the photographs. The 4x4 has retained the ridded sides which are in nice condition with no obvious dents. To the rear arches and, again, pretty much dink free and with no obvious corrosion to be seen, they look to be in good shape. 
Around to the rear and, as briefly mentioned earlier, there has been a drop down tailgate fitted at some point which is much more functional than having a solid back to heave heavy things over. The lights to both sides are free from any cracks. The wheels on the champ are the original split rims with an innertube, there is also a spare included. The tyres do have plenty of tread remaining, but they are quite old.  

The Mechanics

Powered by a Rolls-Royce 2838cc 4-cylinder engine, which produced 80bhp at 3,750 rpm, the engine was as smooth as silk. A fully enclosed engine capable of being submerged underwater (providing the snorkel was used). 
The engine fires up in this 1952 champ beautifully with the first flick. Tickover is nice and smooth with no unwanted noises. The transmission is a work of art, with 5-forward and 5-reverse gears, you can go either way at great pace. 
The seller reports the gear change is nice and smooth and the vehicle pulls well through all the gears. Independent suspension means the champ handles nicely and soaks up any uneven ground just as it was designed to do. 
Two new batteries have recently been fitted and a service has been carried out, along with refurbishing all the brakes, which included new shoes and master cylinder. The exhaust has also been replaced.  

The Appeal 

If you are into your British military vehicles then this is just for you! 
Mechanically, it's been made nice and safe with the brake overhaul, new exhaust and a service. The underside is relatively free from any corrosion that we could see. Sympathetically restored, the Champ has some lovely signs of patina which never look out of place on any military vehicle that has been in service. Yet it still retains all the originality you could ask for. 

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Although every care is taken to ensure this listing is as factual and transparent as possible, all details within the listing are subject to the information provided to us by the seller. Car & Classic does not take responsibility for any information missing from the listing. Please ensure you are satisfied with the vehicle description and all information provided before placing a bid.

As is normal for most auctions, this vehicle is sold as seen, and therefore the Sale of Goods Act 1979 does not apply. All bids are legally binding once placed. Any winning bidder who withdraws from a sale, is subject to our bidders fee charge. Please see our FAQs and T&C's for further information. Viewings of vehicles are encouraged, but entirely at the seller's discretion.

Please see our FAQ's here and our Terms & Conditions here

Please see our FAQs here and our Terms & Conditions here

Vehicle specification
  • Year 1968
  • Make Austin
  • Model Champ
  • Colour Army Green
  • Odometer 19,460 Miles
  • Engine size 2838
Auction Details
  • Seller Type Private
  • Location Staffordshire
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
26 bids
  • jo•••• £10,250 23/08/21
  • Ma•••• £10,000 23/08/21
  • jo•••• £9,900 23/08/21
  • Ma•••• £9,800 23/08/21
  • jo•••• £9,700 23/08/21
  • Ma•••• £9,600 23/08/21
  • jo•••• £9,500 23/08/21
  • Ma•••• £9,400 23/08/21
  • jo•••• £9,300 23/08/21
  • ch•••• £9,200 23/08/21
Message C&C Auction Team

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