The Austin Gipsy was a rival to the Land-Rover four wheel drive in the late 1950s and the 1960s. It was more sophisticated than the Land-Rover in the suspension department in particular. The Gipsy's suspension was independent all round by trailing arms with `Flexitor' rubber springs: the rubber was contained in a large diameter tube attached to the chassis and was tortured as the trailing arms moved; some trailers and caravans use a similar system today. You can see the front tube and the driver's side front trailing arm just behind the bumper bar in the picture of the fire engine. The differentials were chassis mounted. Power was by the 2.2L ohv Austin A70 engine, tuned for torque.
Most Gipsies were made as soft-tops. (The hard-top pictured is a conversion.) They came in both long (111") and short (90") wheel-base forms.
Independent suspension leads to less ground clearance when heavily laden and had an image of lacking ruggedness - at that date. Later models of the Austin Gipsy had live axles in response. They also used the 2.9L A90 engine.
The greatest weakness of the Austin Gipsy, as compared to a Land-Rover,
was its steel bodywork which soon gained a reputation for rust
(this was something that Land-Rover was keen to point out).
For this reason good examples are rare and a nice one might make a good
restoration prospect for someone in search of an unusual
four wheel drive.
My Austin Gipsy (left)
- James Dunsdon
'Dead Jeep Gulch', England [4/'00].
Austin Gipsy fire engine, Transport Museum, Howth, Co. Dublin.
Fire engine photo courtesy of Tony Luckwill, Ireland.
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