Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 14°C

min temp: 10°C


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 or post it to Andy Russell, Archant motoring editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE.

Ipswich Town fans will be given a chance to pay their respects to club legend Kevin Beattie as his funeral procession drives past Portman Road on Friday, October 26.

Suffolk superstar Ed Sheeran is playing four huge concerts in Ipswich’s Chantry Park next year – and over 100,000 die hard fans are due to descend on Suffolk to see him perform.

NHS staff from EU countries account for up to a sixth of the workforce in some of the region’s key hospital roles, figures show.

Scores of Suffolk schools have signed up for a fresh project to boost attainment – but education chiefs have confirmed no extra cash has been pumped into it.

Train services on the mainline through Suffolk and Essex are returning to normal following cancellations and disruption brought by a track safety inspection.

A man from Suffolk died while attempting to climb the tallest mountain in Europe, an inquest heard.

An Ipswich school is opening its doors to boarders shortly after accepting boys for the first time.

A Royal Mail employee is thrilled to have his favourite superhero on his prosthetic leg thanks to an Ipswich garage.

Admirers of a picturesque Suffolk high street vying for the title of Britain’s best are being urged to back a final push for votes.

Police investigating reports of a stabbing in Ipswich have released a man in connection with the incident as enquiries into what happened continue.

Most read

Show Job Lists

Topic pages

Newsletter Sign Up

Ipswich Star daily newsletter
Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

MyDate24 MyPhotos24