Bri­tish Vans & Pick-ups 1945-65

Classic Driver - - HOLMAN -

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.

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