Thursday September 20, 2018
Suppose you need a stylish yet practical wagon for your latest haul from an autojumble – then this quintet of fine vehicles perfectly fit the bill -
Once upon a time, these were not so much ubiquitous as part of the fabric of everyday life: Royal Mail, Post Office Telephones and other public utilities, County Constabularies and, for those moments when your car failed to proceed, the AA and the RAC -
When production commenced in 1960, the Mini was the first ever FWD light commercial ever driven by countless Britons. When it was replaced by the Metro Van 23 years later, it had transformed the motoring landscape of the UK.
Morris Half-Ton Series III
No wonder the gentleman attending to his hedge has just decapitated a topiary chicken in sheer amazement – the Morris Half Ton is just too dashing for words. From 1956 to 1962, it was a perfect van for the owner of a small business who required more space and power than a Minor could offer. Rack and pinion steering was also an advantage and, as the brochure promised, there was that ‘extra-ordinary Morris value’.
The Imp was a car that deserved far more success regarding £sd than it achieved during its lifetime, and the same applies to the van. It was launched in late 1965 as a Commer, and the Rootes Group eschewed the easy option of converting the saloon by creating purpose-built coachwork. The new bodywork was famously tall enough to carry an upright milk churn with a load bay of 70 cubic feet.
There was also a low-compression engine, which did not prevent the Imp from being tremendous fun to drive. But sales remained comparatively low and not even a facelift (and the application of the Hillman badge) could boost its presence in the goods vehicle sector of the market. Today, there are few more charming vans on the classic scene.
Hillman Husky Mk. I/Commer Cob
The illustration shows a dashing David Niven/Stewart Granger style chap about to take his family on holiday somewhere thrilling – although the terms ‘Hillman Husky’ and ‘thrilling’ were mutually exclusive. It was launched in 1954 as a shortened two-door version of the Minx fitted with a bare minimum of standard equipment (Husky) or as a delivery van (Cob); the sales copy was reduced to boasting of the ‘Opticurve front screen’.
The top speed from the 1,265cc side valve engine was 65 mph, but this was more than sufficient for the majority of her customers. These were utterly dependable machines. - and that is precisely what their customers needed.
Ford Thames/Anglia 307E/309E
AKA ‘The Anglia Van’. The 105E-based commercial debuted in 1961 as the replacement for the Thames 300E range. This was an event that Dagenham naturally celebrated with style, even if the link between the new commercial and Billy Smart’s Circus is not entirely clear -
The 1962 309E was powered by the 1.2 litre Anglia Super engine and the “Thames” badge was dropped in 1965 in favour of the “Ford Anglia Van”. In their heyday, these were a staple of many delivery fleets, and any surviving example is guaranteed to attract almost as much attention as a Lotus Elan.