British Vans & Pick-ups 1945-65
Rinsey Mills. Published 2013 by Hodder & Stoughton. 184 pages. Reviewer’s own copy. Also available from Octane Books, Auckland $110. A dead simple idea but, like his earlier book on British Lorries, it works well. Mills gives his readers an alphabetical trawl through small commercial vehicles from 13 marques (Austin via Douglas to Trojan), in the 20 years after WW2 (including camper vans – the first vehicle my parents owned was a sort of Dormobile based on a 1950s Ford Thames!). He uses as the basis of the book, very good quality reprinted extracts from brochures and other dealer literature, with his own captions – some of which are quite fun (“Other extras listed were heater and demister, mate’s seat, radio, sun visors and, would you believe it, spare wheel and tyre – the skinflints!”). That was in the early 1960s, when the manufacturers’ offerings were pretty basic stuff.
The range is amazing. There are A35 and Mini pick-ups which wouldn’t have had a large carrying capacity but look so cute. On a slightly larger scale are the ubiquitous Ford Transit, Morris J-type and the Standard Atlas. I like the way that the book shows the special bodies that were available to order, such as the miniature rubbish truck on a Ford Thames chassis and the Morrison electric milk van. Not sure how useful the early three-wheeled creations from Reliant, with their motorcycle front-end, would have been but that’s another example of what’s in this really enjoyable book.