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I guess I have always been a jeep guy. I had an Austin Champ when I was living in England during the sixties, and then by 1968 or 9 I owned a 1943 Ford GPW. Bought it for sixty pounds from a farmer. It had a beautifully made wooden hardtop, with windows and a tailgate, and probably added two hundred pounds to the weight of the jeep. It didn’t stay on for very long, although I did keep it for a winter or two, as I was living in Hemel Hempstead, and working in London, and driving it back and forth during those wintry months. It certainly was handy for English weather.

I joined the All Wheel Drive Club, and think my membership number was around 60. A friend and I would drive south of London once a month to a pub where the club met, and listen to Bart Vanderveen hold forth on all manner of military vehicles.

Often at weekends we’d hit trials that were put on by the club. Sited on a wooded and muddy corner of a farm, or perhaps a quarry with mounds, slopes and rough terrain, the trials would be set out as a series of sections, bounded by canes. The idea was to go from start to finish without stopping or touching the canes. It was a lot of fun, reasonably dangerous, and occasionally rough on the vehicles. Pictured above is the 1943 GPW at Rookery Farm near Basingstoke, Hampshire, probably in 1969. It's registration number was HRO 443, and it is still registered in the UK. I sold it in the early 70s.

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