Ten popular vans and pickups
Following on from some good reasons to buy a classic van or pickup elsewhere on the site, which makes/models are popular in preservation today across the UK?
Below are ten leading contenders, all of which have a keen following in the commercial vehicle movement. Of course there are plenty of other interesting light commercials out there, but those picked below are a representative selection of the types of van or pickup you are likely to see at a vintage show. Honourable mentions also go to the HA Bedford van, Standard 10 pickup & van, Morris Marina, Austin A55/A60, Commer Cob, Thames 300E/400E, and the Model T Ford. My favourite, the E83W Ford, gets plenty of mentions elsewhere on the site, so doesn't feature here. The video I've included below features 125 photos of classic pickups, if you're looking for further pickup inspiration.
|Austin 6cwt / Morris Minor van
Probably the most popular small classic van or pickup in the UK, with good, bad, and ugly examples still being used for their original purpose.
Most were badged as Morris vehicles, a few, including the concours example shown here, were badged as Austin and known as the 6cwt van.
This one was viewed during an Autoglym concours competitions at Tatton Park in Cheshire.
|Austin A35 van
As well as the saloons, BMC produced both van and pickup versions of the little A35. Pickup production only added up to less than 500 examples, so survivors are very thin on the ground, although do turn up on display at commercial vehicle shows. Vans, and the similar looking Countryman (side windows and rear seats) can usually be found at a show.
Many vans were Countryman-ised with side windows, so a proper van without such mods is a nice thing to find. This one has aftermarket 'eyelids' on the headlamps, and a nice period roofrack.
|Austin A40 Devon
The Devon vans and pickups are among my own favourite light commercials, their styling I think is great. Early models came with chrome grilles, whereas later production switched to painted metal grilles.
Dating to the 1950s, they were sold alongside the popular Devon saloons, and the rare Countryman version.
Devons are viable restoration projects, aided by a sturdy separate chassis. Some pickups have lost their attractive steel rear bodies, so correct examples like this are always sought after.
|Bedford CA van
Very popular is the CA from Bedford, produced throughout the 1950s and 1960s. Early versions had a two-piece windscreen, as with the rare panel van shown alongside, later versions moving to a one-piece wraparound affair.
Finding a standard van is not that easy now, many vans have had windows fitted into their sides, or have simply been scrapped years ago after a hard life. Most CAs at shows seem to be campers, and the occasional ice cream van, probably because both will have been better looked-after during their lives so having a better chance of survival.
|BMC Austin/Morris J4
The J4 was the mid-sized van offering from BMC in the 1960s. Despite being produced in reasonable number, survivors are very thin on the ground.
This model was eventually replaced by the Sherpa van in the 1970s, sharing some of the rear bodywork I believe.
Most J4s are either restored and owned by enthusiasts, or else in dilapidated state perhaps only now suitable for spares. Examples still in use must be very unusual. Steel pickups like this one are perhaps the rarest variant.
|Ford Transit Mk1
Beloved of bank robbers, the police, and just about every trade up and down the land, the Transit has become something of an institution.
The Transit came out in 1965, replacing the largely-unloved 400E van, and instantly gained a huge following thanks to it's car-like driving experience.
Forgotten about for years, the early Transits are rapidly gaining a following within vehicle preservation.
|Fordson 5cwt van
Unlike my 10cwt E83Ws, the Fordson 5cwt owes much of its design and running gear to the saloons of the day.
Various types of 5cwt were produced from the 1930s through to the 1950s, the example shown here is a '50s E494C.
Many Fordson vans, especially in the States, have been chopped about into hot rods and custom cars, significantly reducing the number of original vans that survive.
|Morris J-Type Van
The J Type is a characterful little van that dates to the late 1940s, early 1950s. Originally powered by a sidevalve Morris (MO saloon) engine, and later propelled by the OHV BMC 1.5 engine (and renamed 'JB'). Rare today is the Austin badged version, known as the 101 and fitted with a revised front grille.
Unusually for a commercial, most survivors are vans, with a few ice cream vans, milk floats, and pickups appearing at shows from time to time.
|Morris Series Z Van
These small Morris vans could be seen on every high street in the 1950s, their running gear being based around the Morris 8 mechanicals.
The Z series, very popular with the Post Office when new, doesn't appear to have been sold in any other variants by the factory. Was a pickup version ever offered by Morris?? perhaps someone can advise.
Its diminutive proportions ruled out camper conversions too.
Popular with classic van fans and surfers alike, the 'splittie' has a huge following not just in the UK but everywhere it seems.
Most survivors are campers, like this one. Very few of the original vans survive, although all-steel pickups do still appear at shows. Many fall into the hands of customisers and hot rod fans, with inevitable results!
After the split-screen came the bay window version, also popular, but arguably with less character than the earlier type.