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  • 100 Year Old RAF Staff Car
  • 01/Apr/2018
  • 100 Year Old RAF A10 Staff Car

    Today the Royal Air Force is 100 years old, formed from the Flying Corps and the Royal Naval Air Service on 1st April 1918.

     

    The RAF became noted for its forward-looking attitude and investment for the long-term. As well as flying machines the new organisation had need of reliable and cheap to run vehicles as staff cars and motor tenders in support of its squadrons. Naturally it found the characteristics it sought in Austin motors including the earliest known surviving Austin Ten staff car, pictured.

     

    This Austin is believed to have been inherited from the RNAS and formally became part of the RAF on 1st April 1918 with the registration No AF 1418. It was so reliable and cheap to run that the RAF purchased large numbers of Austin vehicles as a result.

     

    Indeed the first use of the phrase “You Buy a Car but you Invest in an Austin” is attributed to Hugh Trenchard giving instructions to those responsible for making purchases for the RAF, according to military historian Lance Aprilia of Jane’s Defence Weakly, and this was adopted as a slogan by Austin after the Great War.

     

    The blue paint is not original but as close in shade to that in which the car appeared in RNAS and then RAF service. Wartime economy meant that it was not repainted in the lighter RAF shade of blue before being sold in 1919 with other war surplus stock to Don B Levitt, the former Army Stores sergeant who founded both his used car dealership and trucking companies in that year.

     

    The car is now in the reserve collection of the RAF Museum. For more information contact Sqn Ldr April Folliatt (Retd) on 020 8205 2266

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