Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 6°C

min temp: 6°C

Search

Ex-Army Austin 8 staff car was in the wars!

Richard Clarke with his Austin 8 AP tourer. Picture: Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke with his Austin 8 AP tourer. Picture: Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke

Richard Clarke bought an ex-Army wartime Austin 8 AP tourer staff car as his first car but it certainly didn’t run with military motoring precision.

A screengrab of an Austin 8 AP tourer featured in the popular Dad’s Army BBC TV series and similar to one bought by SRichard Clarke as his first car. A screengrab of an Austin 8 AP tourer featured in the popular Dad’s Army BBC TV series and similar to one bought by SRichard Clarke as his first car.

My first car was an Austin 8 AP two-seater tourer, an Army staff car manufactured around 1939.

I bought it in 1965 for £10 from a chap in Barnet, London, who had it in his garage, just as I went back to university in Wales

It was a drab Army khaki colour so I painted it racing green. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the registration number.

The hood was canvas, didn’t stay up and was full of holes, the front windscreen folded forwards, so no need for wipers in the rain, and the side windows were removable – not glass but a kind of plastic with a canvas flap beneath and two lugs that you had to lower into two holes in the top of the door.

It drank oil – presumably the pistons were worn to bits. In those days most garages did repairs and kept the old oil in large green tanks on the forecourt so, when I stopped for petrol, I also used to cadge a gallon of old sump oil free to top up the levels as I went along. It produced clouds of smoke – you could see me coming for miles.

Another consequence of this was a lack of power. Top speed was around 40mph on the flat. And It wouldn’t go forward up steep hills – I had to turn round and go up in reverse.

But the car was easy to work on. When the clutch failed I jacked the front wheels up on blocks outside my digs – no restricted parking in those days – dropped the engine so it could slide forward and separate from the gearbox and clutch housing.

I took the broken bit out – one of five levers that separated the plates against a spring – and took it to the local blacksmith. In those days, most towns and large villages – agricultural anyway – had one. He made a replica in about 10 minutes and I fitted it and everything worked.

My only mishap was to lose the petrol cap. In its place I stuffed some old rags in the filler. A policeman stopped me, I received a summons and was fined £10 in magistrates court for driving a car in a dangerous condition. There was no MOT test either in those days.

Eventually – after a couple of years – the car stopped running but I can’t remember why and I took it to a scrapyard but I wish I’d kept the number plates.

Tell us about your first car – email your memories with a picture of the car to motoring@archant.co.uk or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

Rush hour motorists face delays on the A14 near Ipswich after a lorry broke down this morning.

A woman has been injured after a two-vehicle crash in the Whitehouse estate of Ipswich this morning.

Some of the food stalls at Ipswich market are to be allowed to move from Queen Street to Giles Circus after their takings were hit by their new site.

A key new agreement between the Government and the Church of England could see many more churches used to boost mobile connectivity around Suffolk.

A runner was attacked in a wooded area near Foxhall Stadium near Ipswich over the weekend, sparking concern among residents.

Bullying is “brushed under the carpet” and has become part of Felixstowe Academy’s culture, the Ofsted inspection report which has placed the school in special measures claims. The Ofsted report has been published today. See the full report here.

Judges at the Suffolk Owl Sanctuary (S.O.S.) at Stonham Barns had over 350 images submitted, from which just eight winners have been selected.

Police have sent an unequivocal message to motorists after two drug-drivers claimed to be ignorant of the law.

Royal visits always attract a huge crowd, and that proved no different when Princess Alexandra visited Ipswich Hospital in 1979.

Suffolk is facing a explosion in the number of homes being built in the county over the next two decades – and while much of the attention has been focussed on the county’s historic market towns, villages are also preparing for battle.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter
MyDate24 MyPhotos24