Tilly (from "Utility") was the name given to a number of British military vehicles produced during World War II from civilian car designs and used by all of the armed forces in most theatres of that conflict.
As an expediency British car manufacturers adapted civilian saloon designs to be fitted with a simple rear loading area to create the Car, Light Utility 4 x 2.
Tens of thousands were built during the war but very few still exist today. Preserved restored examples are on public display in the Czech Republic's tank museum at Lesany near Prague, Yorkshire Air Museum, in France's Regional Air Museum at Angers-Marce and at the Malta Air Museum at Ta Kali, Malta, the Muckleburgh Collection, Norfolk among others
Some of the privately owned Tillys are shown at the annual 'War & Peace Show', Britain's largest military vehicle show.
Owners of the few surviving Tillys today regard them as very special versatile vehicles but which tend to be overlooked by many in the military vehicle preservation scene. The Tilly Register was formed in 1996 to bring Tilly owners together. Its primary aim is to locate and record all surviving vehicles worldwide. All four marques of Tilly – Austin, Hillman, Morris and Standard – are catered for, as well as the Austin 8 Tourer which is a close relative of the Austin Tilly. The Register has members all over Europe and in Australia.
Cars on which the Tilly was based
- Austin 8 HP Series AP
- Austin 10 HP Series G/YG, based on the 1939 Austin 10 GRQ
- Morris 10 HP Series M
- Standard 12 HP Series UV, based on the Standard Flying 14
- Standard 10 HP
- Hillman 10 HP, based on the Hillman Minx
The use of the appellation "Tilly" carried on into the last part of the 20th century in all parts of the UK armed forces, with the Morris Commercial J4 and later the Leyland Sherpa, often in minibus form. The Royal Navy which had no embedded vehicle assets of its own, unlike its soldiers in the Royal Marines and the other services, was reliant on the civil service Principal Supply and Transport Organisation (Navy) PSTON to provide both the vehicles and drivers. The Australian Armed Forces similarly carried on this practice, but opted to use the appellation UTE taken from the first rather than the latter parrt of "Utility".
- Robertson, Bruce (1983) Wheels of the RAF - Vehicles of the Flying Services Through Two World Wars (Patrick Stephens Ltd, Cambridge, ISBN 0-85059-624-6)
- Shackleton, Mike (2010) Tilly Colours
- Vanderveen, Bart (1989) Historic Military Vehicles Directory (Battle of Britain Prints International Ltd, ISBN 0-900913-57-6)