• Well presented
• Rebuilt gearbox
• Enthusiast owned
• New roof
The British Army started World War II with no Jeeps, 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. Along came this design 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 that it was even capable of going up to six feet under water whilst drawing in air via the folding snorkel.
Another unique feature for the 4x4 is that it has 5 forward and 5 reverse gears, making it capable of achieving over 50mph in forwards or reverse.
The vendor has been the owner of this 1955 Austin Champ since June 2017, a huge fan of 4x4 vehicles for many years, using them as daily cars for the family as they were reliable and cheap to maintain.
This Champ was purchased in good order, with just a few jobs needed to make it 100%. The few jobs led the seller into carrying out quite a big restoration on the Champ, not because it needed it, more because he wanted to. It has been an ongoing project which has seen a rebuilt gearbox, a respray, and new hood to name but a few.
Since getting the jeep in 2017, it has never really been used other than for odd local trips. Now it is finished, it has also become difficult to get in and out of, especially with the high sides and no doors, which is the reason for the sale.
The V5 is present and shows 4 previous keepers for the Champ.
There are some receipts for parts purchased by the owner and previous keepers. Included is a Champ parts manual and user handbook, along with a number of previous MOT certificates.
There is a letter from the Defence Export Services Organisation, confirming the car’s date into service was the 6th June 1955, and the MOD registration number was 81BE80.
Inside, the Champ has received a coat of paint, the same as the outside, to freshen it up, whilst still retaining as many original parts as possible, such as the switches and instruments. The dash and the switchgear does have some wear, but are all reported to be working as they should. The instrument binnacle is also reported to be working correctly with the odometer showing a reading of 40,813, which is believed by the seller to be original.
The vinyl seats have had new covers fitted to them just 5 months ago, and are therefore in excellent condition with no damage. The floor has wooden laths which are in good condition.
The rear of the champ is a loading area with no rear seat, as these were often taken out to make more room.
Finished in the Land Rover Deep Bronze Green, the Champ was repainted in 2017. Starting with the front, the grille is nice and straight, with no damage to the mesh, it aligns well with the bonnet. The headlights are free from any chips and for added safety, there have been some LED indicators fitted. The bonnet aligns well with the wings and also holds a spare wheel with a new tyre fitted. The windscreen is free from chips and the frame looks to be in good condition with no signs of corrosion.
Around to the sides of the Champ, and the wings are nice and straight with no dinks to mention. The same can be said for the sides of the vehicle and the rear arches. As you can imagine, since the repaint it has covered virtually no miles, and therefore still very fresh. The canvas roof is new and this also comes with the side windows. The side windows have never been fitted, but they do come with all the necessary fixings. The only thing the seller never got around to purchasing are the door frames. These would need to be purchased separately, but are readily available.
Around to the rear, and again no damage to report, and it is as fresh as the day it was repainted. The lights have been upgraded to LED to match the front indicators. There is a spare wheel with a new tyre matching the 4 road wheel tyres. There is also a Jerry can should you get caught short of fuel. The wheels are the original split rims which have been repainted in the body colour. The tyres are all matching and are new.
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, first time in this 1955 Champ. The tickover is nice and smooth with no unwanted noises from the Rolls-Royce engine. A new exhaust was fitted 4 years ago, so this looks to be in good condition. The transmission in the Champ 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 thanks to the gearbox rebuild which took place in 2020. The vehicle is reported to pull 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. The rear axle was replaced around 4 years ago along with the drive shafts, and at the same time it made sense to also fit new drive shaft boots.
Helping the weighty 4 x 4 come to a halt, the brakes were given a refurbishment last year, these are reported to be working as they should.
A British military classic which has been meticulously restored by an enthusiastic owner. Repainted in Land rover Bronze Green, with a new roof which does include side windows (just need fitting), rebuilt gearbox, brake overhaul and new tyres.
The only thing left to do now is jump in and enjoy the Champ!
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