My Pig – Humber Armoured Personnel Carrier

Many, many years ago I was the proud owner of a 7 ton chunk of armour plate, affectionately known in the British Army as a Pig, or more formally as Humber Armoured Personnel Carrier.

This splendid vehicle boasted a completely waterproofed 4.75 Rolls Royce petrol engine (and by waterproof, I mean the entire engine was encased in a sealed steel box, with the various lines (fuel, air and exhaust) passing out through one way valves.   So when one opened the bonnet, a tricky job in itself as it was made of thick bullet proof steel, one was confronted with a large, rounded pale green steel box, and no engine to be seen…

Pig parked outside my flat in north London
Pig parked outside my flat in north London

Curiously enough, it only had one set of gear ratios, no low gearing as one would expect to find on any vehicle that was designed to go off-road, but the engine was so powerful, and 1st gear so low, and as it was always in 4 wheel drive, it went perfectly happily over mud, small rivers and so on on its enormous “run-flat” tires.

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Inside it was remarkably spartan, no unnecessary comfort for driver or passengers, and of course, being military, no seat belts to be seen.

Anyhow, you can find the specs for this small monster easily enough on line, so I shall stop going on about that side of the thing, and talk about what it was like to own and drive around in such a vehicle.   It was in effect my car, as I had no other vehicle at the time, so I used it to drive to work every day, and to drive around at the weekends too.  As one would in a normal car.

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One of the first things one notices when driving in traffic in such a thing is the way that cars do a sort of kangaroo leap when one pulls up behind them at traffic lights, and the driver of the car in front sees that monstrous radiator grill in his rear-view mirror.  I enjoyed that effect I have to confess.

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The second thing one notices is that no one argues the toss with you if you wish to change lanes, overtake or in any way move along.. everyone, including large trucks is only too happy to give you right of way when you are driving a Pig….   So no need to be an aggressive driver, the vehicle does it all for you.   Even those hardened drivers, London taxi drivers, give way happily.

On the down side, I was frequently stopped by cops, as they couldn’t work out what a hairy, heavily bearded guy was doing driving around in a large military vehicle  of a type that was still in use in the British Army at the time.

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Actually, the fact that the Pig was still in use, and particularly in use in Northern Ireland, which was at the height of its “troubles” at this time (about 1974) also proved to be a problem.   As I had bought it directly out of the British Army, it was still painted in the standard green colour of all British military vehicles of that period, which gave me some problems with the IRA, who objected to my inoffensive Pig as it symbolised the British army to them.

Through my work at the Roundhouse Theatre (I was the Production Manager there at the time) I was warned that the IRA were contemplating petrol bombing me and my poor old Pig one day soon.

This was a serious threat, as the people who handed this information to me I knew to be close to the IRA, and whilst my Pig was bullet proof, it was far from petrol bomb proof, having holes all over its body work.

So I suggested to my contacts that I would paint it a different colour, and asked if that would solve the problem for the IRA.  I was duly told that sure, provided it was obviously not a British Army vehicle in service, I would be OK…

However, while these negotiations were going on, I took to driving to and from work by different routes every day…

So, I simply painted it in Afrika Korps camouflage, as you can see in the photos below…    At that solved that problem to everyone’s satisfaction.

In its Afrika Korps glory.. safe from the IRA
In its Afrika Korps glory.. safe from the IRA

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Note the Afrika Korps Divisional Signs too….

By the way, my pig could out accelerate any other vehicle up to about 60 mph (its top speed). Which was fun to do with Jaguars, Mustangs and similar at traffic lights….  Go through the routine, you know it.. revving my engine, and looking out (and down) from my side opening at the driver of the sports car next to me at the lights, and then.. when the lights went green, taking off like a bat out of hell.  The nose went up, the tail went down (so did the petrol gauge) and I left them way behind me.. up to 60 mph.. after which they of course overtook me.. but that bit was fun.

So, that was my pig….  Loved it.

Share with us:

Have you ever owned anything like that, and used it on a daily basis as your chief mode of transport?   If so, do tell us about it here.

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