At the age of 16, Martyn Hillyard took on the restoration of a used, abused and battered Welbike. John Blackman has the story
If you ever have cause to wonder from where the next generation of military-vehicle enthusiasts will come, this should be a heartening tale. I first came across Martin Hillyard and his Welbike at the Bunker Bash event in May 2012, and was interested to learn that the bike was genuine – as opposed to being one of the excellent copies that are around – and that Martyn, 16 years old at the time, had himself sourced and restored it.
The other interesting thing was that whereas in many cases an interest in things military gets passed down from father to son, in the case of the Hillyards it was virtually the other way around… it is Martyn’s enthusiasm that has drawn his father, John, into the MV scene.
Gerald Beckett’s Snow Trac restoration proved a bit of a challenge. John Blackman has the story
If ever there was a perfect vehicle for a winter feature this is it, Gerald Beckett’s reconstruction of a WOMBAT-carrying Aktiv Fischer Snow Trac as used by the Royal Marines in Norway in the seventies. He came by the Snow Trac some five years ago, and we’d better say straight away that the vehicle didn’t serve with the military, it was a hard-top civilian model used by the Northern Constabulary in the Inverness area. We’d also better say straight away that Gerald didn’t actually know he’d bought it, as he explains.
‘One Saturday I was at work when I got a call from friend and vehicle collector, Brian Mack, saying that he was at an auction in Cambridge where there was a Snow Trac ST4. He wondered whether it would be any good as a project. I only remember asking him what the tracks were like, but the next thing I heard was that Brian had bought it for me and it was waiting at his farm!
The appearance of the tank on the battlefield was immediately followed by the need for a vehicle to recover it. In the first of a two-part feature, David Fletcher traces the evolution of what was termed the ARV Mk I
Many years ago, on one of my infrequent visits to the legendary Harry Pound’s scrapyard in Portsmouth harbour, I saw a Churchill armoured recovery vehicle Mk I – or at least I saw part of one. The rest was buried beneath a small mountain of other material and the only reason I recognised it as an ARV Mk I was one leg of a portable jib attached to the side of the suspension. I have no idea what became of it; I reported what I had seen but it was not easy to generate interest. In those days interest was limited to fighting tanks and the intrinsic significance of support vehicles hardly existed. It may have been saved, but it could have been scrapped. Still, at least I can say that I saw it so, if it is no longer around, then that must be sufficient justification for this article.
We’ll be following Paul Hazell’s latest restoration, a Land Rover ACRT, from beginning to end, but first he explains what motivates him to embark on such projects and we look at some of his existing collection
Welcome to the first in a new series of articles following the restoration of a Land Rover ACRT or ‘Aircraft Crash Rescue, Truck’. A Land Rover lends itself to a series of this type as it’s a popular choice for many collectors due to its relative affordability, good parts availability (for all but the earliest examples) and the huge diversity of roles for which it’s been employed. The ACRT however, though once common on all RAF airfields in the sixties, is now a rarity with only a handful surviving and none (as far as I’m aware) restored to original specification. So even though there are many ex-military Land Rovers out there to choose from, the ACRT is a particularly rare type.
As most enthusiasts will know, there have been many books and articles on restoring old Land Rovers. Therefore this series will take a different approach that I hope may be usefully applied to the restoration of many types of military vehicle – not just Land Rovers. My particular ACRT is in generally good mechanical shape (after work completed by a previous owner) so I will not be going into great detail regarding its specific mechanical restoration; much of this type of information is readily available elsewhere.
You’ve a prize-winning GPA which is, frankly, too good to get wet. On the other hand, you hanker after some amphibious fun… so what do you do? Well, for Mark Manning the answer was easy; build a use-and-abuse amphibian from scratch. John Blackman has the story
When it comes to military vehicles, Mark Manning is one of those enthusiasts that look upon themselves as being the custodians of something historically significant. For them, ownership is accompanied by a responsibility to preserve the vehicle for future generations – use it but don’t abuse it, in other words.
Having said that, Mark’s interest in MVs stems from a time when the phrase ‘historically significant’ meant nothing whatsoever… surplus military vehicles were being sold off left, right and centre and were simply seen as cheap workhorses.
‘My father was a demolition contractor,’ Mark recalls, ‘and he used to buy surplus military vehicles for his business… £30 for a Jeep, I remember. Once he turned down a Dodge ambulance at £45 because the back axle was whining. Can you imagine that? Back in the sixties when he was demolishing houses, Diamond Ts would be used to pull roofs off, medium-sized trucks served as vans, and Jeeps were used as site runabouts.