Austin Champ 001, 00 BE 01

Austin Champ, No. 1, chassis 001, 00 BE 01

Below is the first reference I have to Austin Champ 001, it was sold at British Car Auctions at Blackbushe in Surrey, UK, in 1994.

Austin Champ 1323 photo 1

In August 2002 I was contacted by the owner and went to see it in Winchester, Hampshire, UK.

Condition of the body. The paint is a matt green and has had some black paint sprayed on in places to give a camouflage effect. The metalwork is generally good and it looks good underneath; there is some rust coming through on the one side where the floor pan joins the side panel but this should be relatively minor to repair - the lower edges of the side panel are good.
The Champ could not be run or got out so the mechanical parts could not be checked - the owner said it did drive well when it was last on-the-road - the engine is not seized.
It has both chassis plates and they look original - the lower plate has either had a hole drilled in it or it could be a bullet hole?
The engine, 1270, is the original one fitted on the production line - a MK2A\4 Rolls Royce built B40 with a cast rocker cover and the tube near the thermostat housing for a record sheet for the engine.
(from John Mastrangelo) 'The chassis plate does not show a base overhaul so the colour, black, of the engine is correct - if it had been overhauled it would have been repainted BS Sky Blue 101 as were the Austin built MK5A engines originally.'
A previous owner has changed some parts to non-original ones - the ignition switch panel, horn switch, wiper motors, the headlights are not FV marked, the side flashers on the wing were put on for Italian civilian law - these and a few other things would not be difficult to put right.
The green vinyl hood is in reasonably good condition. The Jerry can holder, spare wheel and mounting, jack and rear seats are there. The tyres would all need to be replaced. There is some radio equipment with the Champ.

The first question that would probably be asked is, is it actually number 1, the first Champ off the production line?
The following is reproduced with permission from Gus Gowers who wrote the book, The Champ Enigma.
'Champ Production Begins.
Series production nominally commenced on September 01, 1951 with the fitting of Rolls Royce built B.40 No.1 Mk.2A\4 engine number 1270 to FV 1801A vehicle, chassis number WN1 0001. As this vehicle was not accepted into service until May 23, 1952, it seems unlikely that the actual building of this vehicle was completed until well after the nominal date of the commencement of production. Although the date of September 01 may have been the date on which production actually commenced, it would be quite unsafe to simply assume that WN1 0001 was completely built before any other vehicle and it is very likely that a fairly large number of vehicles were completed before the first batch were submitted for acceptance testing. Records indicate that the first FV 1801A CT Cargo Champs to actually enter service were WN1 0005 to WN1 0019 which did so on 28 March 1952.'

2002. The Champ was for sale for £5,000. At the time nobody put any extra value on the Austin Champ because it was chassis No. 1. The mechanical condition could not be checked. At the time I thought its value was around £2,500 - I wonder where it is now?

The photos were taken when the Champ was in a factory and difficult to phtograph, it was later moved to an old tin barn.

Austin Champ 001 photo 1

Austin Champ 001 photo 2

Austin Champ 001 photo 3

Austin Champ 001 photo 4

Austin Champ 001 photo 5

Austin Champ 001 photo 6