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Homepage. This page: A magnificent pre-war Bedford breakdown lorry, in the livery of Spurling Motors.

Classic Spurling Motors Bedford breakdown lorry.

Thank to Tim for this fantastic photo of his grandfather's pre-war Bedford breakdown/recovery lorry, in the signwritten livery of Spurling Motors, Hendon in London NW9. The Bedford's registration, DXL 294, indicates that it was registered in 1937. What a great looking lorry, finished in a three-tone paint scheme, to which attractive signwriting had been applied. The truck was probably brand new at the time of this photo, the paintwork is gleaming, as are the chrome hubcap and step, plus the tyres have been blacked specially for the photographer. Neither of the disc holders in the window have yet been fitted with a tax disc or commercial vehicle operator's licence disc.
Spurling Motors (Hendon) offered a 24-hour, day and night, recovery service. Note the large Bedford sign painted on the side of the chariot-style rear body. In smaller writing I think the words "Built by Vauxhall" appear. An extra lamp, and a Bedford Drivers' Club badge, are fitted to the front of the lorry.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Classic Bedford breakdown lorry
Tim adds the following:
"I thought you may be interested to see this picture of my late grandfather's breakdown truck. Sadly, I never met him, as he died a few months before I was born in 1961, so I don't know a great deal about him. What I do know, however, is that he became very well known for recovering crashed lorries during the war, apparently taking great care recovering them so that they might be repaired rather than having to be scrapped and to this end, he was often called upon to travel far and wide throughout the country.
I'm told that he was number 1 in the Bedford Drivers' Club! We think that this photo was taken outside the Sloacombe family home of the time. His name was Ernest Sloacombe. For a time in the early twentieth century he lived in Birmingham, where my mother was born, running his own fleet of luxury hire cars. He went bust in the depression and returned to his native London, where he worked for Spurling Motors, as can be seen. Should anyone be able to shed any further light on this, we would be most grateful to hear!"

Spurling Motor Bodies Ltd.

Searching around, I found references to a firm called Spurling Motor Bodies, Rookery Way in Hendon (and also at Edgware Road in London). Spurling Motor Bodies was founded in 1922, and became a public company in 1937. By the early 1960s they were still building vehicle bodies, and in addition airport equipment (steps, aircraft seating etc).
I found a scan of a letter from 1950 on letterheaded Spurlings Motor Bodies Ltd (Vauxhall Bedford) paper. It lists their services, which included (in 1950) body building and spray painting shops, storage, spare parts, and a showroom. Their telephone number was Colindale 7171 (10 lines!), the same number as features in the signwriting on the lorry shown above, thus confirming that Spurling Motors and Spurling Motor Bodies Ltd were one and the same, the Managing Director of which was W. F. Spurling.
Spurling Motors Ltd
Thanks again to Tim for sending over this super old photo.
A photo of a near-identical recovery body, fitted to a slightly later (1939) Bedford can be found in book titled "Bedford GM's British Commercial", published in 1980.
Return to Page 15 in the gallery of vintage cars and vehicles.
A number of classic Bedfords feature in the vintage gallery. These include a 1930's Bedford cattle lorry, and a post-war dropside Bedford tipper.
To see photos of a Ford Model AA breakdown wagon, including a photo of a Ford V8 saloon being recovered by it from a beach in 1948, please visit this page in the gallery.

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