Auto Review AR105 Vehicles of the AA By Ian Barnard
Product Code: AR105
In 1997 we published 'Vehicles of the RAC' in the Auto Review series, with the intention of following it up with a similar publication devoted to vehicles of the AA. It took 17 years for us to persuade Ian Barnard to take on the enormous task, but no-one is better qualified to describe the vehicles used by the Automobile Association, as can clearly be seen when you read his biography: Ian Barnard was educated at Chiswick County Grammar School, then he qualified as a toolmaker, working on turbochargers for VC10 aero engines. He moved to a smaller engineering firm, but he found the work dull, and the tolerances too broad. He started as an AA Patrol in September 1970 in West London, driving an Austin 8cwt van. After just over six years, in 1977 he was made Sergeant, helping to run Patrol teams in North London. Ian was then given the job of running the 15 Patrols that covered the M1 from the North Circular Road up to J14 at Newport Pagnall. In 1983 he was promoted to Inspector with responsibility for two Sergeants and 38 Patrols covering central, south and south-west London. In 1989 Ian came out of uniform and moved into management as Head of Training for the south eastern counties, responsible for training around 800 Patrols, and for two operations centres in Maidstone and Thatcham. Two years later Ian moved to the Road Services Team in the headquarters at Basingstoke, managing a wide range of projects and developments. Not all projects went into service, but his job was to test good ideas and cost them against benefits. A new business had been started within the AA at Halesowen in the West Midlands, which Ian helped to get up and running. The new business began to pick up rapidly, and he was offered the job of head of its admin unit, which necessitated moving the family up to Worcester. After five good years the business was sold, as it was not considered sufficiently profitable to retain, whilst the AA was preparing itself to be sold, for the first time in its history. In 1999 Centrica bought the AA and Ian took the opportunity to move back into managing a team of Patrols. He spent seven happy years with the Worcester Patrols, and a year with the Gloucester Patrols. Then Centrica decided to sell the AA, which was bought by two private equity companies, CVC and Permira. As they had done in previous acquisitions, the first thing they did was to slim down the existing management team. In 2005 Ian accepted a very reasonable offer of redundancy, leaving the AA after 35 years service. But, as is so often the way of things, Ian became bored with sitting at home, so in 2007 he re-applied for a position as an AA Recovery Patrol. Seven years later in 2014, when this book was published, Ian was still driving a Renault Midlum 12-tonne slide-bed truck for the AA. Ian always had a deep interest in the Automobile Association and its history.