Lot 71 (Imperial War Museum Duxford, 18th March 2020)
Sold for £17,100
(including buyers premium)
Registration No: RO 1917
Chassis No: 3TT9492
This truly glorious-looking vintage van which originated as a Clifton saloon is believed to have been constructed by mechanics of Harris- Mayes & Co at some time prior to the outbreak of WW11 in 1939 which is evidenced by an email from the son of Mr Harris-Mayes. It was registered in Luton in 1925 as RO1917 which it still carries today and its early history unknown until the 1930s . It was used as a garage hack for the Rover and Land-Rover main dealership in Watford. It changed hands in 1984 when it passed to Frank Lord of the Old Town Clock shop in exchange for a Grandfather clock. Mr Lord sold it to Dick Hall of Dunstable that same year who took on the task of a "total restoration"
The Austin entered the custodianship of Alan Wilkerson of Lewes in 2010 before it was acquired by the vendor in 2014.
At this point, a decision was taken that the rear body was not up to the vendors exacting standards, so a professional body rebuild commenced consisting of a new ash frame and complete covering in aluminium. The roof was recovered, seats and doors cards re-upholstered in leather and new carpets fitted. Complete new oak floor with bespoke underfloor toolboxes fitted in the load bed. New rear lights and a traffic indictor system fitted along with a new exhaust manifold and restored Autovac . Side screens for the front doors in double duck are provided as is a storage bag. The body was built from original patterns from the 1925 van owned by VAR member Jonathan Bye of Brixham.
It is unusual find such attention to detail and correctness in any vehicle as often the unseen items are not attended to. This is not the case with RO1917. Pleasing to note that the springs and steering joints are correctly covered with Wefco type leather gaiters. Similar attention has been given to the wiring in that it has been enclosed in metal armoured conduit. All gauges and fittings where necessary are nickel plated. The door card pockets have the correct Austin markings and the seat backs trimmed in the button-down style of the period. The attention to detail in the load space is remarkable and the work of a true craftsman. The rear doors fit perfectly, and the catches slide with a engineering precision. The bespoke oak toolboxes are a joy for anyone with an appreciation of the traditional craft of woodworking.
There is a comprehensive history file with photographs of various stages of its life including a body off restoration carried out between 1984 and 2010 and in front of Harris and Mayes Rover dealers sometime in the 1960s.
Surely a unique opportunity to acquire a delightful well-sorted Vintage van that could be used for leisure or indeed promotional purposes.
Introduced in late 1921, the Austin 12 (later known as the 'Heavy 12/4') became a legend within its own production lifetime. In many ways a scaled-down version of the existing 20/4 model, it was based around a sturdy ladder-frame chassis equipped with rod-operated drum brakes and all-round semi-elliptic leaf-sprung suspension. Powered by a 1661cc side valve four-cylinder engine allied to four-speed manual transmission, the newcomer could be had with a variety of open or closed body styles and even saw service in the carriage trade. Updated in 1927, the 12 gained a longer-stroke 1861cc powerplant, higher scuttle and wider track.