British Lorries of the 1950s and 1960s
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This guide features nine classic "eight-wheelers" from the great names of the British lorry / truck industry during the heyday.
Foden's long history goes back to 1856 but, until the 1930s, production was mainly confined to steam powered vehicles. In 1931 the company turned its attentions to diesel-powered lorries using the Gardner engine, but later using several different makes of diesel engine. The first purpose built Foden rigid eight was the DG model of 1935. In 1948 Foden introduced the FG/FE range, featuring the stylish S18 cab with a concealed radiator. The classic FG / FE models helped establish Foden as one of the leading manufacturers of eight wheelers during the 1950s.
Atkinson L1586 "Bow-Front"
An early manufacturer of steam lorries, Atkinson failed to survive the economic depression of the late 1920s. The company re-formed in 1933 with production concentrating on diesel lorries and entered the eight wheeler market in 1937 with the L1586, a handsome "assembled" lorry using Gardner, David Brown and Kirkstall running units. An improved model L1586, popularly referred to as the "Bow-Front" was introduced in 1952. It became a classic of the Fifties.
Edwin R Foden broke away from the family Foden concern and started making his own diesel powered lorries in 1933 using some proprietary units such as Jennings cabs and Gardner engines. Growing rapidly to become a leading manufacturer of heavy vehicles, their fist eight wheeler was the C16.8 followed in 1947 by the 6.8, a completely new design with a Jennings V-fronted cab. In 1954 the ultra moden KV range was released with its oval grille and wrap-around windscreen. It became a fifties classic.
In 1935 Leyland Motors added a second steering axle to a Hippo six wheeler and the Octopus was born. It went on to become one of the most famous of all eight wheelers. The first new post-war eight wheeler from Leyland was the 22.0/1, powered by the 9.8-litre 0.600 oil engine. The pre-war Leyland eight wheeler, designated TEW, was replaced after the war by the new 22.0/1 and 22.0/3 (SWB) with modernised cab and completely redesigned chassis. During the mod-1950s a redesigned cab (56/A) was introduced and the increase in the UK legal weight brought the 24.0/4 and 24.0/5 models. The LAD "Power Plus" range appeared in 1960.
Scammell Routeman I
At the 1960 Earls Court Show a new eight wheeler was displayed on the Scammell stand, the Routeman MkI. This had a grp cab with wraparound windscreen, shared with the handyman tractive unit. Engines were either Gardner or Leyland, and most were supplied with 8x2 drive, though there were a few 8x4s and some 6x2s, as Scammell had no other rigid chassis at the time. Less than 100 Routeman Is were built between 1959 and 1962 before the introduction of the Michelotti-cabbed Routeman II.
Guy Warrior Light Eight
Guy Motors Limited had mainly produced four and six wheel lorries up until 1954 when they launched their Invincible range based on the AEC Mammoth Major Mk 3. By 1958 the company were offering the Invincible MkII, using their own chassis with Kirkstall axles and an ultra modern new cab with large wraparound windscreen. The following year a lightweight model was added to the range, powered by an AEC AVU470 engine and called the Warrior Light Eight, it was popular with operators seeking maximum payload capacity. Guy Motors became part of Jaguar Cars in 1961 and in 1964 introduced a new eight-wheeled model, the Big J8.
Seddon Motors of Oldham were late-comers to the eight-wheeled market, surprising the industry with their DD8 and SD8 models in 1958. With a choice of Gardner or Cummins diesel engines, the model was available in long (17ft 9in) or short (14ft 6in) wheelbase form. Within four years of their launch the SD8/DD8s were replaced by re-engineered 24-8-6LX and 24-DD8-6LX models. These featured a restyled cab, now with four headlamps and a new design of fully-articulating two-spring rear bogie.
Scammell Routeman II
In August 1962, the Routeman Mk1 was replaced by the Routeman Mk2 with its distinctive cab designed by Michelotti. This new cab was very striking, although it was non tilting, the Leyland group not having a tilting cab until the introduction of the Ergomatic in 1965. Engines for the Routeman Mk2 were Leyland 0.600 or 0.680, or Gardner 6LW or 6LX. The Routeman models were widely used as tankers, both for fuel and industrial liquids. In 1968 a double drive Routeman III was introduced using Albion Reiver hub reduction axles.
Foden were the first British manufacturer to offer tilt cabs on heavy lorries in 1962, with the introduction of the S24, identifiable by its oblong headlamps, single piece windscreen and the absence of a removable front grille. For 1967, a revised version of the S24 was introduced known as the S34 (tilting cab) or S36 (fixed cab). Both had slant mounted headlamps and a slightly deeper windscreen than the original S24 model. The Albion Sugar Company of Woolwich were well known users of Fodens during the 1960s.