Race Support Transporter: 1960 Austin FFK140

Old race transporters are quite possibly the best reason to buy a humongous, non-running vehicle and park it on your lawn. I can’t abide by most things that fall into this category, but transporters for racing teams are just too damn cool. And, I know a certain Barn Finds editor – I’m looking at you, Jamie – who has a LeMons team just dying for a truck like this. This is an exceedingly rare Austin FFK140, otherwise known as a BMC Training Unit, effectively built as a mobile classroom for training aspiring automotive technicians.  Two of them were believed to have been used for trackside support, and given some of the details inside, it seems likely this example listed here on eBay may be one of them. It’s offered up for £16,995.

This concept of a mobile training unit is not as strange as one might think, and while I can’t put my finger on it at the moment, I know we have featured an American version of this same concept, perhaps even used in concert with the likes of NASA or some other government agency. Regardless, mobile classrooms have been considered a future-looking concept for quite some time, but it clearly never took off given most instruction still takes place in a traditional setting, or have shot right past that and is now entirely virtual. Regardless, race day transport and the need for a mobile hotel in the paddock will never be virtual, so long-wheelbase transporters like this one will always find a purpose.

The seller doesn’t explicitly say that this was one of the two rigs used for competition events, but he is clearly inferring there’s a good chance this is one of them. The cool, period livery shown in the top photo has obviously been stripped away, but I’m truthfully more excited by the Range Rover in that photo with the killer roof rack! Back to the Austin, the seller notes that these rigs were constructed to withstand years of use thanks to an aircraft-grade aluminum paneled exterior, which covered an aluminum framework of a similar grade of quality and strength. Therefore, there’s no wood rot to deal with, and hopefully no roof leaks, either.

Here’s a pretty solid clue that this was one of the race team vehicles: those old-school and oh-so-cool stickers from other in-period providers of race-related equipment or services, the kind of emblems that could only come from one period and are near impossible to re-create with the patina seen here – that only comes from being adhered to the space above the driver’s head sometime in the ’70s and remaining there ever since. Given the location of these stickers, it’s a good thing these Austin transporters aren’t prone to leaking – which is likely more than you can say for the 5.7L vertical diesel that powers this wicked hauler. How would you use it if you decided to drag it home as a winter project? Thanks to Barn Finds reader Kyle K. for the find.

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Those look like Cortina MKI wagon taillights,but since
    it’s a BL truck,probably not.
    I can only imagine the expense of getting this to the US.
    Cool find,regardless.

    Like 2
    • s2dbob

      Tail lights are same as Austin 1100/1300 and Austin America (I own one) as well as 2nd series FX4 taxi, all from late 60’s and early 70’s, Since the body doesn’t look modified, probably the vehicle is later than 1960,EBAY listing says reg date 1968-01-01

      Like 1
  2. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    I’d take a pass on the van, and opt for a Dolly Sprint instead!! What a Woulda-shoulda car.

    Like 6
  3. Rick

    Love the wipers on the rear window! All I can see with this thing is a cool camper conversion with an updated powertrain. Initial cost and shipping is the deal breaker.

    Like 2
  4. JamieDC

    Those taillights look similar to Austin America/Morris ADO16 lights. But if this is really a 1960 transporter, the time period is a bit off.

    Like 1
  5. 8banger David Mika Member

    Cool, but what’s that little wedge-shaped hot hatch in the back?

    • Rick

      Looks like a Lancia to me

    • Jasper

      Actually it’s not a hatchback or very hot. It’s a British Leyland Princess, looks like a plain Jane Wolsely or an Austin version. Should’ve been a hatchback but apparently management vetoed it due to worries of stealing sales from their other hatchbacks. Too bad, it could’ve been more as hatchbacks were the craze at the time. The dressed up ones are really good looking in a futuristic, 70s British way.

      Like 1
      • 8banger David Mika Member

        I read their history. If BL ever made a car that didn’t rot within a few seasons, someone please let me know.
        Thanks!

    • Graham Clayton

      Austin Princess

  6. angliagt angliagt Member

    Looks like an Austin Allegro to me.

    Like 3
  7. JohnfromSC

    I believe Wayne Carini owned one of these a while back and featured it on his show.

    Like 1
    • Bullethead

      That was a training van that was owned by a West Coast Britcar guy, IIRC Carini bought it in 2011 at Sotheby’s Arizona sale for $55K. Funny because it had been offered for awhile at something like $25,000. It was a little different but like this example, wasn’t a hauler, has bigger taillights, fins, etc. With sales ranging from $25-100,000 this looks like it could be a pretty good buy.

  8. Helier Lucas

    Holy Shimoley, in the group photo (outside the British Leyland Special Tuning Dep’t, Abington-on-Thames) grouped around that early workhorse Range Rover, are four of the Mechanics (no need for fancy titles in those days) who made the BMC Competitions Dep’t infamous until closed down by BL around 1970/1971. When Comps closed the guys who moved to ST (others went across to MG production on the same site, some moved on) found themselves in a modern characterless building lacking in history and just as chilly as the old building 200 yards down the compound and not so exposed, but they soldiered on. Around 50 years ago I had the pleasure of working, as an apprentice, with those fine men pictured around the RR; from left to right, apologies but the name of that first lovely guy escapes me, second in is Brian Moylan who, following retirement, curated the MG Museum and worked tirelessly for the MG Car Club until his sad demise a year or two back, next is Eddie Burnell, finally – if my memory serves me well – with the ‘70s trendy long hair is John West, another of those master engineers just called ‘Mechanics’ back in the day. These guys covered the most famous of events, from the British RAC Rally to Monte Carlo, Targa Florio, Liege-Sofia-Liege to Sebring and World Records on the Salt Flats.
    Excuse me the digression, that first photo just took me back to happy times half a century ago, amongst which were months when I worked under the supervision of a hero who had been the Riding Mechanic to Nuvolari – Respect!
    The Transporters! I remember them well, BMC Competions Dep’t had at least a couple of similar vehicles as service barges, don’t remember too many details, just the little red pull switch on the gear lever for the two speed axle, that was a first for me! Travelled many miles in one of these, never missed a beat. This truck would make an awesome period-correct service barge/transporter for 1960/1970s race/rally vehicles from Big Healeys/Sebring Sprites & those very rare MGCs to Minis or anything else that came out through the Abingdon gates. A similar ex-Comps truck was successfully extended to carry Chevron / Lola World Series Sports Cars around the European circuits in the ‘70s with the bare necessities of accommodation while ‘on the road’. Solid, steady and reliable – and for me many happy memories!!

    Like 8
  9. mark mitchell Member

    I owned 2 of these. I sold the better example at RM in Phoenix to Wayne Carini, and I appear briefly on an episode of Chasing Classic Cars. I sold the second one on ebay and it was shipped to a buyer in London (no easy feat, as these are way too large to fit into a container!).

    Like 2
  10. mark mitchell Member

    A friend in Norway owns one of these and has compiled the most comprehensive history and set of photos for these rare beasts. Here are 3 pages of photos which include the two units that I owned: https://www.flickr.com/photos/brimen/page1

    Like 3
    • local_sheriff

      That’s a great compilation of vintage pics. I observe there are 3 different tail light setups – and they were made in 50 examples…?

  11. Dave Mathers

    ‘a winter project’? How about a LOT of winters!! LOL

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