CC Kids: Bryce Learns To Drive in an Austin Gypsy

Kids Bryce

After pondering what to do with their car-mad son, the parents sent me off with the neighbour on his power meter-reading job during school holiday. Ostensibly I was the gate opener to access farms and ranches to read meters at cowsheds and pumps hidden on the back of farming properties. But we would swap seats at the gate, and I would nervously–at first–pilot the truck along farm tracks, up and down steep paddocks thru swampy ground etc..

The truck in question is a 1966 Austin Gypsy SWB hardtop, 4WD hi-lo transfer case powered by the same 2.2 motor as the Austin 16 I wrote about. It had an all steel body with fibreglass top. This was Austin’s reply to the Landrover.

This particular Austin was replaced with a new Landrover in 1973 just prior to me gaining my license at age 15, so I have quite extensive experience with both. The Gypsy was much heavier and sat on the road better, bearing in mind these were the gravel back roads of my home counties. The slightly longer wheelbase made for greater stability over the Land Rover on loose shingle, and it actually drove reasonably well with no need to stop to disengage 4WD. I preferred it to the newer vehicle.

As an aside this job was initially done in an ex-WW2 Jeep, but it proved incapable (war weary?-ED) so it was replaced with a Chevy pickup until 1954 when a Landrover was used.  Then came this Austin, the other LR, and finally a Subaru ute before my driving instructor retired.