1943 Austin K2/Y Royal Navy Ambulance
Believed to have been originally stationed at Portsmouth; sold by the War Department in 1948 and owned by the same family ever since; well known vehicle from various military shows; driven to Normandy for numerous D-Day commemorative events
Thought to have originally been attached to the Royal Navy in Portsmouth, this ‘Katy’ was destined for domestic duties on the docks but after just five years in service it was sold off in a War Department sale and purchased by our vendor's grandfather. The paintwork surely would have left the factory in the standard olive drab, but the Navy chaps would have soon seen to that when they acquired it, changing it to the distinctive shade of blue which has now been reinstated today.
After this, it spent at least the next 40 years being used and cared for on the family farm in East Anglia, being used for transporting kit and workmen around the fields or occasionally being the perfect vehicle for shooting parties. Used out on the roads too, it served as a very handy vehicle, although only covered about 200 miles a year during this period. While being used on the farm it was painted a few times, which disguised its original naval provenance, so for many years, we imagine it was just known as ‘that big slow handy Katy!’
After our vendor's grandfather passed away, the truck spent a lot of time stationary in the shed and although there was talk of selling it on then, the decision was made to keep it, and in 1992 work commenced on trying to return it to its original ambulance guise. The aim being for it to be ready to make the long drive to Normandy for the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings in 1994. Fortunately, our vendor had started a classic car restoration business on the farm by then, so he had the workforce and the know-how to get the job done.
The chassis, suspension, steering and brakes were all checked over initially and brought up to scratch where necessary. The original sides were still on the load area and the roof was replaced, shortly before paintwork commenced again, bringing it back to its distinguishable naval blue with red and white crosses. The original naval ID number also being stencilled to the rear as per under the bonnet - RN/869616/VM.
Inside, period equipment had been found and bought, including the stretchers and first aid kits, appearing as though they have been there since the 1940s. In fact, the owner reports that one or two comfy night sleep have been had in the back between long drives. Unfortunately, the original front seat is long gone and has been replaced with one from a TR7. Considerably more comfortable than the original!
With a top speed of 40mph, you are not going to get anywhere fast, although it has experienced Normandy, not only in 1994, but also in 2014 and 2019 and visited many UK military shows, so there is no reason why it could not be used for more trips, be a pride of a collection or take centre stage in a museum.
Well-preserved, not over-restored and thought to be one of only two Katys left in existence in this Naval colour scheme, you are unlikely to see another one any time soon.
Further information to come - [email protected]
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