NICK Smith’s favoured mode of transport does just three miles to the gallon but is capable of stopping traffic in its tracks.
Many motorists using the A21 cannot have failed to notice the conspicuous armoured vehicle parked there.
Far from being abandoned or part of a covert military operation, the vehicle is fully taxed, insured and road-worthy and has earned it’s owner the epithet Nick the Tank.
The vehicle is in fact an FV432 armoured personnel carrier and was snapped up by military vehicle enthusiast Nick for a bargain £2,000.
Since the 1960’s the FV432, or variants, has been the most common vehicle used by the British Army to transport troops on the battlefield.
But there is nothing common about it when seen trundling down the A21.
Nick, aged 43, says: “It has been driven to Hastings and has even been to the drive-through McDonalds. People do stop and stare and you feel a little like the Pied Piper going down the road with 100 cars behind you.”
The FV432 Series was being phased out of service in favour of newer vehicles, such as the Warrior, but some have been upgraded and have seen action in Iraq. It’s flexibility has seen it being used as a military ambulance, a cargo transporter and a communications vehicle.
Nick clubbed together with a friend to buy the surplus vehicle. He said: “There were quite a few of them around at one time but now they are getting rare and the price is rising.”
Nick is keen on exhibiting at military shows such as the one at Capel, in Kent, and next year the FV432 could be one of the stars of the show at the big War and Peace event at Folkestone.
Nick said: “There is a whole community of military vehicle enthusiasts who are all very friendly and keen to offer help and assistance with things like getting parts or transportation. My son is very keen on it too.
“I have my work life and this is the fun side of my life.”
Nick confesses that he has had the police around to his Whatlington home a few times to inquire about the vehicle. He said: “One officer was really interested and wanted to chat as he used to drive one when stationed in Germany with the Army.”