I first met “Katie” at an auction in the autumn of 1978, I have no recollection of where the auction was held, or what else was on sale, but there she was, just waiting for someone to bid on her and take her home. I was not terribly impressed and when came the time for the lot to be sold she failed to reach the reserve price. One of my friends casually mentioned she’d make an excellent towing vehicle for taking my trailer to rallies and something in which I could sleep at night and I began to see her in a new light. I had noted who I thought was the owner in the crowd and before leaving sought him out and took his telephone number; I’d think about it before committing myself.
A week or so later and I was awaiting the arrival of the vehicle. It was an Austin K2, hence “Katie” and was built for wartime use by the National Fire Service. Fitted with a six cylinder petrol engine and a very low ratio gearbox she was quite powerful and would make a good towing vehicle, how thirsty she’d be though, only time would tell. Once off-loaded from the transporter I lost no time in starting her up, I knew she was a runner as I’d heard her at the auction. That engine was smooth and sounded gorgeous although a bit lumpy on one of the cylinders. She had been latterly used as a mobile kennel for a Hunt and so the interior was a little smelly to say the least.
Everything worked, although the lights needed attention, but it would not have been too much work to have put her through the MOT test. I decided, unwisely in retrospect, to strip her down so I could restore her properly and set about removing panels from the body which only found more work needing doing. Really I should have just cleaned her up and made her mechanically roadworthy and just rubbed down the body for repainting without dismantling. By the time I’d taken off all the heavy steel panels from the ash frame, I realised I was going nowhere, it was beyond my capabilities to do a ground-up restoration and reluctantly re-assembled her and slapped a quick coat of paint over the vehicle to make her look a little bit presentable. My idea of a towing vehicle in which I could sleep at rallies was slowly diminishing and when an offer of a 1960s Bedford ambulance came my way I parted with Katie to one of my friends; he never did anything with her either and sold her in the 1980s to an enthusiast in Devon. I’ve never seen her on the rally fields although she is apparently shown as taxed until September 2015 on the gov.uk site.
The top photograph shows Katie just after she arrived at Little West and above left she is seen after I had stripped off all the panels. The final photograph shows her after I had rebuilt her and slapped a quick coat of paint all over to make her more presentable for sale.