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Austin Gipsy.

YOG 285 was an Austin Gipsy that belonged to the plant hire company owned by contributor Keith Belcher's father, in the 1950s. Here the trusty 4x4 is shown on a (then) modern housing estate, perhaps during the estate's construction, complete with a heavy-duty four-wheeled trailer attached to its rear hitch. Upon the trailer is a period dumper truck - maybe someone can identify this example of classic plant? The Birmingham registration puts the Austin at 1959, from a production run that began in 1958 and continued for ten years, ending in 1968 after some 21,000 or so Gipsies had been produced. The inspiration for the Austin's overall design, namely the Land Rover, is very evident in its appearance and specification beneath the skin. It was to be a rival to the Landy, and a replacement for the previous (military) Austin Champs.
(Please click the thumbnail to view the full-size image.)
Austin Gipsy
While the rival Land Rover employed aluminium panels, attached to a steel chassis and bulkhead, the Austin's bodywork was all-steel, ie both body and chassis. And it was to be the steel bodywork that would be the Austin's weakness, as its propensity to rust away during hard use led to few surviving into old age. Landys rot for England also, but usually it was the chassis (which could easily be welded up to maintain its strength), followed in later years by the bulkhead, that would eventually disintegrate. The novel independent suspension used in the Gipsy at its launch, with Flexitor rubber trailing arms, was also less long-lasting than that of its Solihull-built rival, despite being very effective. The engines, either diesel or petrol (based on the Austin A70 unit), were both dependable units capable of decent mileages.
The Gipsy in Keith's photos is an early, G1M10 (1958-1960) series, example, built at Longbridge. External giveaways are the small vent sent into the scuttle beneath the screen, a smaller badge on the front panel compared to later vehicles, and a lack of exterior door handles (a feature introduced by the G2M10 variant in 1960). Production switched to Adderley Park in July 1960, after 6,418 Series 1s had been built.
DVLA shows no sign of YOG 285 having survived into preservation. A few lucky examples did defeat the metal moth and make it into old age, a number of which I've photographed over the years and now reside on pages across OCC. This page for instance, features an Ambulance version of the Gipsy. More conventional is this one, photographed at Goodwood some years ago now, while a rear view of a similar (1965 example) can be found here.

More photos of this Gipsy.

Shortly after publishing this page, Keith got in touch again with news that he'd found three more images of YOG 285, and kindly sent them over.
The first of the "new" photos shows the same Gipsy parked up in a street with industrial buildings in the background. Bar the canvas rear sides being in the rolled-up position, the Austin looks much the same as in the photo above. Note the compact roller parked alongside.
Front view of the parked Gipsy
Next is a side view of the same vehicle, again with a roller albeit one of different design. The scene is classic post-war suburbia, and perhaps the Austin and the roller were posed for a publicity photograph.
Side view, with a road roller
The final picture from Keith's collection is a scan of a colour slide, revealing the Austin's yellow colour scheme. I think the fuel filler cap needs a new seal! Two other interesting old vehicles are also in shot, a Series 1 Land Rover, and a Leyland Comet.
The Austin with Land Rover and Leyland Comet lorry
Return to Page 19 in the photographic archive, or visit the main index here. Thanks for the photos Keith, if anyone else has in-period photos of Austin Gipsies from a family album, it'd be great to see them please.

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