Car & Classic Verified Dealer

Overland & Highway Ltd

Shrewsbury Shropshire

1954 Austin Champ WN1 Military Vehicle For Sale

Austin Champ WN1

1954 | Ex-MoD | M Registered | Rolls-Royce 2. 8L Petrol | 5 Speed Manual with Selectable 4WD | Deep Bronze Green | Independent Suspension



1954 model, first registered with civilian plates in August 1973. 2, 838cc 4cyl Rolls-Royce B40 petrol engine coupled to a 5spd manual transmission with a separate FWD/ REV gear. 24-volt. Selectable 4wd. Independent suspension. 5 x steel wheels with 7. 50R16 Security crossply tyres. Military-type tow hitch. Drop down hood. Search light and Pioneer tools. Many new or refurbished parts fitted during a full rebuild by enthusiast owner.


After the Second World War, the British Army was eager to develop a multi-purpose light truck to replace their aging fleet of US-built Jeeps. A specification to design a "Car 4×4 5 cwt FV1800-Series" was launched in 1947, and the Nuffield Organisation submitted their prototypes to the Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment including the Nuffield Gutty, and later the Wolseley Mudlark. After many design improvements including suspension work by Sir Alec Issigonis, Austin Motor Company was awarded the contract to build 15, 000 vehicles from a former aircraft factory at Cofton Hackett. Built from 1951 to 1957, the four-wheel-drive quarter-ton truck utilised the military specification 2838cc 4-cylinder Rolls-Royce B40 engine, which shared parts with other ‘Rolls’ B-family engines found in vehicles such as the Daimler Ferret and Humber Pig.

Although a civilian version of the Champ was briefly offered (the WN3), the vast majority were built for the Ministry of Supply (later known as the MoD). ‘Champ’ was actually the civilian name; the official name was ‘Truck, ¼ Ton, 4x4, CT, Austin Mk. I’. Most were used as either basic cargo trucks or wireless vehicles. In service, the Champ demonstrated outstanding capabilities, but in the end, its downfall was its cost and complex engineering – It is said you could almost buy three Land Rovers for the price of one Champ. After about 4000 had been built, the contract with the Army was terminated and the cheaper, simpler and more adaptable Land Rover had completely taken its place by 1968. Their knock-down prices at auction and surplus dealers helped them to win a new fan following from civilians who found them extraordinarily fun and great for leisure activities.

This particular Champ entered service on 31st March 1954 under the military registration 61 BE 21, and was later registered for civilian use in 1973 after being ‘de-mobbed’ in 1965. Since then, it has only had two registered keepers, the last carrying out a comprehensive strip down and rebuild in recent years after obtaining it in a derelict but salvageable state. The body and chassis were shot blasted, primed in red-oxide then painted in the correct Deep Bronze Green. Many other components were restored or renewed, and the vehicle hit the show circuit in the North West. Due to ill-health the Champ came to us after a period of inactivity, and we have recommissioned, serviced and finished off a few things to make it ready to use this coming season.

Climbing into (well, feels more like ‘onto’!) the driver’s seat, the hardy-but-smooth Rolls engine fires up fine from cold, and is very willing on the road with a fantastic exhaust note. It will get up to a cruising speed of about 50mph pretty swiftly, or crawl along with it’s very low first gear making up for a lack of low-range. Interestingly, it’ll do both of these things backwards thanks to a separate reverse gear in the rear axle… if you’re brave enough. Unlike Land Rovers of the time, its all-round independent suspension makes it very smooth to drive and can tackle speed bumps or rough ground at a speed that would normally break your back! We have done nearly 40 miles in it on all sorts of roads, even off-road, and we can say it’s well ahead of it’s time for a vehicle designed in the late 40s!

The body is in good order with no corrosion, only the odd small historical dent and some paint chips here and there from use/ storage. The seats covers, mud flaps and hood were replaced not long ago, and there is a full complement of duck-boards in the footwells ready for those muddy boots… no fancy carpet here to worry about! Underneath, the chassis and suspension are in equally good condition, there is the odd small oil leak here and there as to be expected for this type of vehicle but everything in is in working order. The engine oil and filter has been changed, the rear brakes have been rebuilt and bled through, and other oil levels checked. We have got all the electrical items operational including all road lighting and the search light mounted on the passenger side. The only item not-working is the temperature gauge, this may be the sender so a replacement may need to be sourced by the buyer when one comes up. The wipers are powered by vacuum; however, we have converted the wiper arms and blades to Land Rover Series IIA-type for ease of replacements.

This little vehicle would make a great investment that’s easy to keep, great fun to use, and is something a bit different from the usual Land Rovers and Jeeps on the military and classic car scene. It comes with a couple of large folders containing the workshop and operating manuals plus a box of various odd spare parts including rifle clips, a replacement windscreen glass and a spare starter motor. If you are interested in owning a piece of British Military history, please get in touch!


We have described the vehicle as accurately as we can, but please take your time looking through the photos. Viewing is most welcome, if you have any questions please do not hesitate to contact us. All funds must be cleared before the vehicle can be taken away. We are happy to take deposits to reserve vehicles, however this is non-refundable fee agreed on point of sale, and is valid for 7 days at which point the full balance must be settled and collection or delivery arranged.

Due to the age and nature of this historic vehicle, we are selling it suitable for spares and repairs only with no warranty given or implied.

The vehicle must be collected from our premises near Church Stretton, Shrewsbury. We can also arrange UK delivery by trailer if you so require.

Overland & Highway Ltd.
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