The Austin K8 was a van that was produced between 1947 and 1954. The basic price of the van was £535.
Various changes had been made from the prototypes, which included the radiator grille, front bumper, access steps and the wheels. It had a very small wheelbase considering that it had a pay load of 25 cwt, and this made it very nimble. It was powered by the Austin 2199cc OHV petrol engine which had recently been used in the Austin 16. The forward control cab gave good visibility and a partition with a window separates the cab from the steel body, with composite doors and toughened glass.
Although the final assembly of the van was done at Longbridge, the contract for the bodies was give to Carbodies who had their factory in Holyhead Road, Coventry. The body had a timber frame with steel sheets attached, even the doors had a wooden frame. The large front windows gave a good view of the road, the drivers side could be opened. Both the front doors had wind-down windows.
You could order an ambulance conversion on the K8 which was factory built and called the Welfarer K8/AA. This had the track increased by 1 inch and was fitted with low pressure tyres. The suspension was also altered to give a softer ride. Access to the rear accommodation could be through the lef-hand side door, or at the back via normal van doors by using steps that when folded away formed part of the floor.
A roof mounted air intake directed air through a filter and then onto a Clayton air conditioning system that had a radiator feed from the engine cooling system. By means of an interior thermostat the temperature in the back could be set.
You could order various combinations of seats and stretchers to suit your requirements. The cost of the ambulance without the stretchers/seating was £805.
Jensen Motors Ltd brought out a pick-up version based on the chassis/cab in 1949 which was priced at £565 and sold through the Austin dealers. Later that year the basic van price was increased to £645.
This unique vehicle proved to be popular and in 27 months around about 3,500 had been sold. Over the years there were various price increases, but in May 1950 the Government imposed Purchase Tax at 33% on commercial vehicles, the only exception was the ambulance and various municipal and emergency vehicles. This tax increased the basic van to £824 and the pick-up version to £711 (in primer) and £735 (in standard colour).