Austin Gipsy: The Forgotten Land Rover Rival

If you are a 4×4 enthusiast, you are likely familiar with the iconic Land Rover. Aimed at both civilian and military markets, the Land Rover was a British truck that was designed to go just about anywhere. But the Land Rover was not without competition. Competitor brand Austin had a rugged 4×4 of its own. The Austin Gipsy, a forgotten British 4×4.

What is the Austin Gipsy?

The Austin Gipsy is an off-road vehicle that saw production from 1958 to 1968. It was designed to replace the Austin Champ at a cheaper cost and saw both civilian and military use. Much like the Land Rover, it was boxy and not focused on refinement. But unlike the Land Rover, it had steel bodywork.

Another benefit of the Gipsy was its independent suspension. By utilizing Flexitor rubber springs, the Gipsy could travel at higher speeds over rough terrain. Later in production, leaf springs could be had on both the front and rear. The Gipsy was assembled in multiple countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, and Columbia. According to Motoring Weekly, it could be had with either a gas engine or a diesel engine. 

At first, the Austin Gipsy was offered a 90-inch, short wheelbase. But when production of the Series II started, a longer wheelbase was optional.

Why did the Austin Gipsy cease production?

In May of 1968, British Motor Holdings Limited merged with Leyland Motor Corporation Limited. Once that happened, both the Gipsy and Land Rover were being produced by the same company. Production of the Gipsy stopped after over 20,000 vehicles had been sold.

Should you restore a vintage Austin Gipsy?

The Austin Gipsy 4x4 SUV, featuring military markings.
Austin Gipsy | Allen Watkin

Like any restoration, bringing an Austin Gipsy back to life can become a difficult undertaking quickly. That said, there is no shortage of British car enthusiasts, especially in the world of 4×4 vehicles.  

With the proper tools, parts, and knowledge, restoring an Austin Gipsy could make for being a rewarding project. And in the end, you will have a unique British truck that would be considered extremely special.

Could Austin ever return?

Around 10 years ago, it was rumored that the Austin brand could be revived. It is now owned by the Shanghai Automotive Industries Corporation, and those rumors seem like just that. The Austin brand disappeared under Rover in 1987, and it seems like it will stay gone barring any major changes.

Why buy a vintage British 4×4?

A group of 4x4 British SUVs in a row.
British 4×4’s | VW Pics via Getty Images

It’s easy to get caught up in old Jeep trucks and Toyota Land Cruisers, but British 4×4’s offer a charm all their own. While reliability may be questionable, with proper care and work, a vintage British SUV can bring miles of joy to owners and passengers alike. 

There are good reasons why vehicles like the Land Rover, Austin Gipsy, and others remain sought-after. They offer a unique throughline to a bygone era. One of adventure and discovery. By owning one, you will have part of that history each time you get behind the wheel. And there is something significant to be said about that.

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