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40th anniversary of pioneering vehicle recovery service, originally called AA Relay
The AA’s vehicle recovery service, AA Recovery, changed the fortunes of stranded drivers when it was launched as AA Relay 40 years ago (1 October).
“Before AA Relay was introduced, if your car couldn’t be fixed at the roadside, your choices were limited,” recalls AA chief engineer Steve Ives, who was an AA apprentice in 1973.
“It would either be taken to a local garage for repairs or you’d have to continue your journey by other means. It was certainly no way to reach your holiday destination!
“It was a revelation to our members when we launched it. Suddenly, we could recover your car and your family right to your destination. You wouldn’t have to miss any of your holiday at all.”
The pioneering service, which cost £2.20 a year on top of AA membership, was an immediate success with 100,000 members applying for it in three months. Initially, there were 150 recovery vehicles – mostly Bedford J3 transporters – but within two years this figure had doubled.
our modern AA Recovery trucks can seat up to six passengers in air-conditioned comfort and cover hundreds of miles at a time, which makes for a more pleasant journey than in the days of the early transporters
Robert Jones, AA Recovery patrol of the year
Steve Ives says: “The road network wasn’t so good then and there was no M25. ‘Relay’ meant just that; if you broke down in the south and lived in Scotland, it meant a journey of several legs.”
Robert Jones, AA Recovery patrol of the year, says: “Thankfully our modern AA Recovery trucks can seat up to six passengers in air-conditioned comfort and cover hundreds of miles at a time, which makes for a more pleasant journey than in the days of the early transporters.
“When you’re stuck at the side of the road, you just want to get to your destination. That’s what AA Recovery provides.”
As it celebrates its 40th year, Recovery is the most popular AA membership option. Last year, the AA successfully completed 850,000 recoveries, clocking up 18.5 million miles across the length and breadth of the country.
(1 October 2013)