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The AA launched its Relay service on 1 October 1973, as an add-on to standard AA breakdown cover
The AA launched its Relay service on 1 October 1973, as an add-on to standard AA breakdown cover. It was introduced to counter competition from new rivals, who promised simply to return a broken down car to its owner's home, instead of trying to fix it.
The Relay fleet was initially made up of 150 vehicles, a large number of them being the Bedford J3.
The AA's first batch of J3s was made up from a cancelled export order to Saudi Arabia, perhaps a more appropriate destination for a vehicle with an 11mpg thirst.
The powerplant was an overworked 3.3 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine, which was much happier in top-of-the-range Vauxhall cars of the time.
3.3 litre 6-cylinder petrol engine
AA Relay drivers soon learned that excessive use of the accelerator could send the metal engine cooling fan through the bonnet.
Despite its shortcomings, the J3 gave sterling service, but by the late 1970s it had largely been replaced on the fleet by more powerful flat-bed trucks.
This particular J3 was first registered in November 1974.
It was rescued from the AA's training school at Widmerpool in Nottinghamshire several years ago and was completely restored by North-east patrols Alan Crowley and Paul Bowman.
The Transporter is now looked after by Patrol Colin Sheldon in the Milton Keynes area.
(13 August 2012)