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Homepage. This page: Classic Thames E83W reg. NCA 129

Ford E83W Pickup.

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This page was first put together in the early 2000s. In 2015 I updated it with more details of the Ford E83W's lucky discovery - while I still remember them myself - and a selection of scanned 35mm prints that recall the three occasions on which I owned this E83W pickup. Its discovery led to a number of E83Ws gracing our driveway(s).

First discovering the half-ton Ford.

In 1989, I was running a Mk1 Austin A40 Farina as a daily-use classic, while also attending to the resurrection of what had been a spectacularly rusty Mk3 Triumph Spitfire. In May of that year, my folks booked the family into a caravan site situated up the Conwy Valley. As I was now of independent transportation, I trundled over separately in the A40, while dad's XJ6 lugged the family's Coachman caravan down the A55, the destination being the Turner's campsite, situated a few miles outside of Conwy itself.
It wasn't long after seeing the arrival of the A40, that the site's co-owner, Bruce, struck up conversation about older British cars. He mentioned that there were several Morris Minors rotting away in his bottom field, and that I was more than welcome to have a crawl over them, in case any parts of their running gear might be of use in keeping the A40 running.
Never needing to be asked twice about viewing an assortment of corroding classics, I promptly headed off in the direction of the mouldering Minors. There were maybe three or four examples of Issigonis' finest, slowly disintegrating into the North Wales landscape, joined by a Mk1 Transit van for company. Clearly none of them would ever see the road again, especially the Traveller that was the worst of the motley bunch.
However, my interest in the Minors was short-lived, because parked a short distance away - as if keen not to attract any more rust than was already present - was this wonderful little pickup truck, which was - like the Transit dumped nearby - a product of Ford's Dagenham plant. At the time I wasn't fully au-fait with Ford's 10cwt offering of the pre- and post-war years, but one glance and I knew that I really wanted to try and rescue this survivor.
The Ford E83W Pickup as found in a field
The E83W photographed in the field where it had sat for many years, 1989.
It turns out that Bruce, before taking on the camping and caravanning site, used to run Windsor Garage in nearby Llandudno, and he'd used the E83W for local deliveries, vehicle collection, and so on. He sold the garage, but decided to hang on to the small Ford, using it about the campsite until such time as the body rot led to its withdrawal from service. It was painted over with a coat of red oxide, in a bid to stave off the metal moth, then parked in a field.
How long it'd had been there, by the time I saw it in 1989, I don't know. It was in a very poor state really. The door bottoms had rotted badly, as had the sills, and lower sections of the front wings. Worst by far though was the all-steel back body, a factory option actually built by Anthony Hoists Ltd. This was in a terrible condition, the sides flexed if pushed, and the bed was now just a mass of corroded metal, that you could fetch out with your hand to reveal the sturdy chassis, lurking beneath.

Purchase No.1, 1989.

At first Bruce wasn't too keen on letting his old, four-wheeled, friend go. A number of local old-vehicle fans had tried their luck, but been un-successful. Perhaps the thought of seeing someone else driving around in his old truck, was too much to contemplate. Anyway, after a series of negotiations, I was granted permission to buy it.
A little while later in the year, we returned, with a hefty four-wheeled trailer hitched to the back of dad's Jaguar. The E83W's location was at the foot of a moderately steep incline that led to the top field gate. It soon became clear that pulling the loaded trailer up the slope, wouldn't do the XJ's automatic gearbox any favours, and traction wasn't brilliant either if I remember correctly. A local friend, who just happened to own a Land Rover, was contacted, and using his 4x4, the trailer was easily dragged to the more level ground alongside the camping area. There, the tow vehicles were swapped over.
Parked on a trailer
The truck and trailer were parked overnight in our road.
The drive home was completed without a problem. As I was still living with my folks, and had the A40 and Spitfire at home already, the E83W was parked in a company's yard near Dukinfield, which wasn't too far away from our home in Cheadle. We'd got to know the company's owner, after an unfortunate incident involving this chap's son, a small air pistol, and my brother's head while at school - but that's another story.
Stored at a yard in Dukinfield
The Ford was stored, still on the trailer, in Dukinfield.
While the storage was useful, getting to actually do any work on the Ford while parked miles away, was proving difficult, so after a while space was made at home, and we brought it to Cheadle. Here, progress was made on getting the old girl running, which led to a few impromptu back & forth tests in the driveway being undertaken. The smoke generated by the 1172cc sidevalve engine was quite impressive, this was in the main due to the oily brews I'd poured into the cylinders to coax the piston rings back to full health. What the neighbours made of it all, I'm not sure.
Testing the Ford's engine
She runs, albeit leaving a slight haze behind her. My old A40 is to the right.
After a while I found a lock-up for rent just a short walk away, so the E83W was moved once again, this time to secure and most importantly dry, storage. This enabled further fettling to take place.
In 1993, I bought another E83W steel-bodied pickup, in better all-round condition (see the CJM 357 page). I switched my attentions to that one, and after a while I admitted defeat with the first, and sold it to a gent that had quite a collection of old cars, up near Blackpool somewhere. I didn't see the Ford again for a few years, until out of the blue in 1999 I heard that he wished to sell it on again, having done some work to it before getting distracted with other things.

Purchase No.2, from Blackpool.

Seeing it again was a mixed blessing. It was good to see the old girl, ten years after first discovering it, but to be honest she wasn't looking at her best. The body had been part-dismantled, and some of it replaced, along with parts of the ash framework in the cab. The rear body had been welded up, to a solid standard but not one that could have been finished off really well. It was also outside, wet through, and left on a pile of mud, old ashes, and general garden detritus, so looked ever worse than it should have done.
The Ford when it was part-restored
Part-restored, but left outside by its new owner.
On 26th January 1999, NCA 129 returned home with me again. By this point in time my now-wife and I had bought our first house, at which we'd installed a large three-car garage. There was room to park NCA alongside the green pickup, and also my A40 which by now was off the road and needing TLC - which it does to this day...!
The pickup truck delivered to its new garage
Delivered to the new garage, at our first home.
I don't recall how long I held on to it this time, but with progress on it lacking somewhat, I sold it again to someone, I think, north of Manchester way. He did some work to it, then passed it on again to another enthusiast, in Stockport.

Purchase No.3, Stockport.

How I came to see it being advertised again memory doesn't relate, possibly in the Auto Trader paper, but I ended up buying it back from this chap - the third time of purchase. I was once more the owner of two, rare, E83W steel pickups.
During 2003 we moved house again, and the E83Ws followed.

Off to a new home - again.

A friend of mine saw the E83W and suggested that he'd like to take on the completion of its restoration. With various other vehicles clogging up my garage, and time to get on with the E83W as-ever in short supply, I agreed to let him prise it from my sticky paws.
NCA was put back together and sufficiently prepared, to enable a return to road use in its new owner's hands. I did get to have a ride in it, which was neat, and as far as I know at this time (2015) he still owns it. It was roadworthy for a year or two, but sadly it's not been seen out for quite a few years, and sits in the corner of a farm building, covered in tarpaulins, where at least she's dry and relatively secure, only a mile or so from where I sit now. Hopefully it'll see light of day again soon.
Back on the road
On the road again, in 2008.
The purchase of the E83W first time around in 1989, was as a result of inheriting a small sum from my gran, so it'll always be a vehicle that I'll look back at with fondness. If the opportunity to ever buy it for the fourth time presents itself, and I can accommodate it, I wouldn't count against it returning to OCC HQ.
Signwriting on the driver's door
Signwriting for Windsor Garage Company Ltd, Llandudno.

Wing wobble.

At about the time of getting the Ford to run for the first time - see photograph #4 further up the page - I made contact with a chap who also had an interest in old cars. From memory he ran a Mk1 Triumph 2000 as his daily driver. Anyway, he was handy at restoring coachwork, and worked nights at a company somewhere in Manchester, that happened to have a fully-equipped workshop in which he worked. Would I be interested in letting him do work on the E83W's badly-rusted body panels? "Why yes, of course" was my reply. So, to start the ball rolling, I removed the nearside front wing and dropped it off with him. This is why it was absent in the photograph shown previously.
Windsor Garage business card
Two or maybe three weeks passed, then I received a hurried phonecall from the very worried Triumph 2000 owner. He'd arrived at work as usual, to find that a colleague had taken it upon himself to tidy up the workshop. He'd chucked all the surplus "scrap" into a skip, that had now been collected. He saw no possible use for the part-repaired wing, and slung that in with the scrap, much to our mutual horror. As anyone who knows about E83Ws will attest to, panels in any condition for these small vans and pickups are near-impossible to find. And my n/s/f wing was now sat in a scrapyard somewhere, assuming it hadn't already been crushed, or at least lost beneath a pile of festering Maxis, Princesses, Sierras and Cavaliers.
Somehow, my contact had discovered which yard in Lancashire the skip had been unloaded at, so he sped up there, found his way to the correct yard, and retrieved the wing before any damage could take place. We were extremely fortunate. He completed the repairs to the wing then passed it back over to me. No more panels headed in his direction, something that I think we were both quite happy about. To this day, the profile of that wing isn't quite as the factory designed it, a reminder of this unusual episode in the Ford's long and varied history.
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