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You don't envisage a car when you talk of the 70s and Hustler

Published Tue, Oct 13, 2020 8:15 AM

You’ve heard the joke about the wooden car, right? Wooden wheels, wooden seats, wooden engine? It wooden go! Get it? Because wooden sounds like wouldn’t. Anyway…this wooden car definitely goes, because we’ve driven it. 


William Towns is a name that our more “experienced” (read: older) readers will probably be familiar with. He was well known for his distinctive design style, which can be summed up in two short words: straight lines. All the straight lines. And angles. No pesky curves or compound edges here, thank you very much. 

His most famous automotive masterpiece was the Aston Martin Lagonda, which was hailed as a technological masterpiece when it hit the roads in 1974. It was full of the latest electronic goodies, which worked about as well as you’d imagine in a low-volume, British-made car. 
But he was responsible for another automotive creation, and it was about as far from the Lagonda as it's possible to be.


The Hustler was designed for people to build in their shed at home. Or, in this example, out of their shed. Literally. It was originally designed in 1976, at the height of the kit car craze, and was a ridiculously simple idea. The kit was purchased directly from Towns himself, from his home near Moreton-in-Marsh. There were no dealers, and the internet wasn’t a thing then, obviously. When you arrived, you were presented with a veritable smorgasbord of car parts, presumably in some sort of quasi-futuristic crate, including a metal framework for the chassis and passenger cabin, enormous pieces of glass… and not a lot else. 

The running gear is all Mini, and the six-wheeled variants, like this one, simply doubled up on the Mini rear subframes. The whole thing was laughably simple. 
Towards the end of “production”, Towns released the Hustler in Wood (it’s actually called that), for those who fancied even more of a challenge, wanting to quite literally build their own car. You still received the metal parts of the structure, the glass, and some plans on what your measurements should be.  

This particular example was built in 1986, and given the interesting title of “The Black Prince.” I think the owner describes it best: “She’s got a Monocoque structure of marine ply, incorporating side impact members and a rollover bar of box jointed oak.  All the glass was toughened, and she is powered by a 1275cc Mini engine mounted on a sub frame, with a further 2 mini subframes for the rear 4 wheels.  All wheels are braked, and the windscreen frame incorporates a radio aerial.” 

It is, without a doubt, one of the wackiest but most beautifully simplistic vehicles we’ve ever seen. With its tweed dashboard and green velour seats, it's about as eccentric and quintessentially British as you can get.  


Considering only around 500 were made, it's hardly surprising that Hustlers rarely come up for sale. When they do, they’re usually the more common fibreglass version, and whilst demanding more high street attention than a sodden Piers Morgan wandering around in a swan outfit on a night out, there’s nothing quite so out there as what is effectively a conservatory on wheels. 

Prices are difficult to gauge-at present, the only Hustler for sale in the UK is a 4-wheeled fibreglass model, which can be yours for a not unreasonable £11,000. There’s a similar wooden example coming up for auction in the states, estimated between $15-20,000. 


This Hustler forms part of the highly eclectic JHW Classics Collection. Curator Jane bought the car in from its original builder in 2007, as he was selling it to build himself a plane. As you do. It’s available for TV and promotional work, as every car in the collection is, and if you’re interested in finding out more, you can contact Jane on her website www.jhwclassics.com 


Manufacturer: Hustler 
Model: Hustler in Wood 
Powertrain: 1275cc inline-4 
Construction: Mini subframes, wooden chassis & frame 
Power: 54bhp 
Performance: 0-60mph at some point, anything over 40mph is terrifying 
Price: £15k upwards 
Exclusivity: Very, very rare