A British Army specification for a light truck was issued in the late 1940s, inspired by the jeep but able to perform in all theatres of operation of the British Army. It was considered important that a British-made vehicle was produced in order to reduce the reliance on US vehicles and the foreign expenditure that entailed.
A project to design a "Car 4x4 5 cwt FV1800-Series" was launched in 1947, and the Nuffield Organisation built three prototype designs known as the "Nuffield Gutty" . Testing of these revealed serious shortcomings and the design was improved by a team at the government Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) under the leadership of Charles William "Rex" Sewell. The suspension system was designed by Alec Issigonis , who went on to design the Morris Minor and the Mini.( Ant )
About 30 prototypes of the improved vehicle were built by the Wolseley Motor Company under the name "Wolseley Mudlark" , and after further refinement the design was formalised as FV1801(a). The first production vehicle was completed on 1 September 1951.
A conventional separate transfer case was not possible due to the cruciform layout of the vehicle chassis which placed the junction of the cruciform where the transfer box would reside on a conventional ladder type chassis. Bendix "Tracta" type constant velocity joints were fitted at all wheel stations. All transmission assemblies were sealed against the ingress of water.
The suspension system was based on longditudinal torsion bars for primary springing and featured fully independent suspension at all four wheels using double wishbones. Each wheel station was also fitted with a rubber cone and cup system to buffer extreme upward suspension travel with energy control exercised by double-acting telescopic hydraulic dampers. This system gave an exceptional cross-country performance. Front and rear axles were constructed into a cradle sub-assembly, which could be rapidly exchanged in the field.
The Gutty was not directly successful but is regarded as the predecessor of the FV1800 Wolseley Mudlark which was in turn the immediate predecessor of the Austin Champ.
Austin Gipsy - Launched in 1958 as an attempt to translate its military 4x4 Austin Champ into wider sales, the Gipsy used some innovative engineering. An important part of the design was Flexitor suspension designed by Alex Moulton. Unlike the Land-Rover, Austin's Gipsy was entirely built of steel and suffered from rust as a consequence. However, it all came to an end in 1967 with the merger of BMC with Leyland to form British Leyland.
The Austin Ant (development code ADO19) is a small four-wheel drive vehicle that was designed by Sir Alec Issigonis for the motor manufacturer Austin.