Automobiles of Arizona
21 - 22 January 2010
Thursday - The British Are Coming!
1963 BMC Technical Support Vehicle
Sold for $55,000
- Chassis no. 144972
While today’s British motor industry is but a shadow of its former glory, the BMC Competitions Department stormed the racing world during the 1950s and 1960s with a seemingly endless array of “works” Austin-Healeys, MGs and Minis. During this era, BMC also produced a number of unique bus-type vehicles based on the BMC/Morris FFK 140 commercial truck chassis.
While originally conceived to carry a racecar and provide mobile trackside support, these vehicles were also utilized by BMC in the USA for product demonstrations, technical instruction and dealer promotions. In all, these vehicles were built in very limited numbers, with just eight survivors believed remaining in existence. When new, they were strictly reserved for official BMC use and were not publically available until their eventual retirement.
With styling by Pininfarina, these vehicles incorporated a number of unique styling cues that enhanced the utilitarian features of BMC’s regular commercial vehicles. Their bold exteriors featured sculpted side panels and flowing side-window arrangements, while their long, neat tailfins echoed those of BMC’s own passenger cars, including the Austin Oxford. Their alloy bodies also had an aircraft-type inner structure with construction by Marshall’s of Cambridge, a natural choice given their expertise in airframe construction. Marshall’s also enjoyed a long association with BMC, ever since Sir Herbert Austin awarded the firm an Austin distributorship at the end of World War I.
Mechanically, the vehicles utilized a Perkins six-cylinder diesel engine, as well as enhancements including a two-speed rear axle assembly and power steering, providing outstanding over-the-road performance capabilities that belied the vehicles’ bulk and relatively modest horsepower ratings. Other unique features included a sporty banjo-style steering wheel similar to that of contemporary MGs and Austin-Healeys, as well as a pair of racing-style bucket seats in keeping with the competition flavor of the vehicles.
Resplendent in its red, white and blue livery and complete with period “Special Tuning Department” rosettes, this left-hand drive example is one of just two such vehicles originally created for the U.S.-based dealer network of BMC. In period, they were mainly employed for promotional purposes, complete with advertising and educational display materials, much like the Futurliners of GM’s earlier “Parade of Progress” during the 1940s and 1950s. In fact, this vehicle formed part of the MG display stand at the 1964 Chicago Auto Show, among many other high-profile appearances during its early days with BMC.
Fully functional and presented in good condition today, this very interesting and usable vehicle is ready for its next adventure and will certainly be a welcome visitor to shows and vintage racing events everywhere. More recently, it has been retrofitted with a larger and more-powerful engine, and it comes complete with a comprehensive selection of service manuals covering the engine, mechanicals and electrical system.
Another one of the surviving few examples has been faithfully converted to a replica of the BMC Competitions Department transporters, with a ramp door and car-hauling capabilities, and recently won the coveted "Spirit of Goodwood" award. The example presented here still maintains its original configuration and will certainly be even more desirable, as an original artifact of BMC’s own “British Invasion” during the Swinging Sixties.
Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.