Rare Austins facing extinction
The Austin 3 Litre Owners’ Club is desperate to help save the last 3 Litre Limousine in existence, plus super-rare hearse and ambulance conversions
The Austin 3 Litre Owners’ Club today put out a desperate plea to save three 3 Litres for restoration. Fewer than 10,000 examples of Austin’s last big car were produced in period – and even fewer wore special limousine, ambulance and hearse bodies like the cars in this collection, brought together by a 3 Litre fan in the Nineties.
All three cars, currently located in Gatwick, will need a great deal of work before they see the road again; the 3 Litre Owners’ Club, which is low on funds, is worried that the cars may end up eventually being banger raced. It can’t take then on – but will offer spares free of charge to anyone who can. Chairman, Neil Kidby, said: ‘We are a free-to-join club and therefore have no funds as such. Anything we spend essentially comes from my personal pocket.
‘As a club, though, I am trying everything I can to find a home for them. The limo had a huge number of parts missing and it will be a massive project.’
The cars came on to the market after 3 Litre Owners’ Club member, Malcolm Stephens, passed away. His widow, Annie, moved them on after he passed.
The limousine is the by far the rarest of the three 3 Litres as Neil believes that no others have survived. The collection deteriorated over the past two decades in the hands of their second-to-last custodian, who bought the hearse as a runner with the ambulance in a poor-but-complete state. These too, like the limousine, are on the endangered list, but their survival rate isn’t quite as dire as their stablemate. Neil said: ‘The limo is the one that really concerns me as it is the last of its type. At least the other two have a sister out there somewhere.’
Vendor, Jerry Ansell, would rather that the cars are preserved than raced; he told
Classic Car Weekly that enquiries have so far been split evenly between restorers and racers. He priced the limousine and hearse at £3500 and the ambulance, the best of the trio, at £4500 in the hope of finding a long-term owner or restorer. He said: ‘If I’d have sold them for £1000 each, they’d have ended up trackside in no time.
‘If it means they stay here for a while waiting for the right buyer to come along, that’s fine by me.’