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See Homepage. This page: Unusual coachbuilt ice-cream vans
Classic vans and pickups

Ice cream vans in preservation

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Fordson ice cream van
Within the ranks of preserved vehicles, are a small dedicated band to whom small vans and light commercials appeal most of all. Whereas most preservation fans stick to either vans or pickups, there are some who prefer to hunt down the more oddball vehicles that were once a popular sight on the roads. Fire engines and appliances spring to mind, as do the colourfully liveried ice cream vans of yesteryear.

Preserving an old ice cream sales van takes real dedication, as few have survived, and finding any parts that are unique to these variants can be a real challenge. Many are based around off-the-peg chassis/scuttles from the major manufacturers, then receive eye-catching coachbuilt bodywork from any one of many specialist coachbuilders that could be found years ago. As time passed by, the design of ice cream vans became less and less radical, with those to be seen today looking not too dissimilar from the vans on which they are based.

Mr Whippy Leyland FG
Mr Whippy Leyland FG seen in Sandbach a few years ago
Mr Whippy Leyland FG
Seen from the rear the amazing fins and artwork can clearly be seen on this FG
Fordson van
Photographed in the 1980s was this Fordson E83W van in the Lake District
Anglia van
Photographed at Astle Park in 2001 is this Ford Anglia based Wall's ice cream van
If you want to hunt down an ice cream van to restore, it'll pay to keep your eyes open for one that is as complete as possible. Replacing missing refrigeration equipment will not be easy, and fixing up badly damaged bodywork may not be easy, although those built in fibreglass do lend themselves to repair if you're handy with this material.

Alongside is a great example of a restored icecream van, in this case a Leyland FG, built to sell Super Whippy ices and lollies. The coachwork and livery was designed to catch the eye, and it certainly does this well! The running gear would be based on the standard commercial variant, with bespoke bodywork blended on to the factory front end panelwork.

This example, parked alongside an Anglia-based 'van, was seen at the Sandbach Transport of Festival a few years ago.

The next van featured here, was photographed somewhere in the Lake District in the 1980s. Sitting low on it's springs, this Fordson E83W ice cream van was supplied as a standard chassis and cab, upto the top of the screen and including the factory front doors. The back end coachwork was added by a specialist builder, and the weight of the coachwork seems to be taking its toll on the rear (transverse) spring on this example. Has this Fordson survived? I don't know. I have featured this one on my E83W website, so hopefully one day I'll find out the fate of this one.

A later Ford-based icecream van is seen on the right here, based on the 105E-style Anglia of the early 1960s. This one was at Astle Park Steam Fair in 2001, and is shown here with a correctly dressed ice cream 'vendor'. "Stop me and buy one" was the slogan back then, and probably still is today.

If your taste buds have been wetted to find out more about classic vans such as these, it'll pay to do your homework in advance of shelling out for an example. A new book has come out recently, and features the history of Wall's ice cream vans. Part of the Nostalgia Road series, this one looks at the earliest days of Wall's vehicles, from pedal cycles fitted with cool boxes through to coachbuilt specialist vehicles of the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Most small/medium commercial vehicles of the period have appeared as ice cream vans over the years, and many appear in this book. Vehicles featured include the aforementioned Fordsons, plus others based on the A70 Hampshire, Austin K8, Commer Superpoise, Morris J-Type, Morrison Electricar, Morris LD, Bedford CA & CF, Morris Minor LCV and plenty of others, old and not-so-old. Price is 7.95 ISBN 1 903016 21 5.

I was contacted in November 2005, shortly after publishing this page, from Stuart, at Whitby Morrison of Crewe. The Leyland FG and Anglia shown above form part of their fleet of preserved ice cream vans. The company still produces vans and other sales outlets, kiosks and such like. He goes on to say: "... I've been looking at the above web page within your site and found it very interesting. The Leyland FG 'Super Whippy' and authentic Ford Thames (Anglia) in Walls livery are from our Company Heritage Collection. I guess that you might know of us from the 'Fifty Years of Ice Cream Vehicles' book? Anyway I just thought that you ought to mention that we as a Company do have a collection of forty plus ice cream vans in various stages of restoration. As the world's leading manufacturer of ice cream vans we are keen to preserve our heritage. We also undertake commission restorations and at this time have a 1928 Morris Cowley and a 1955 Bedford CA in progress.". Thanks for getting in touch Stuart!

Photographs of ice cream vans in the 1950s

Added in 2007: 'bootsaler', a contributor within the Morris van section of my site forum, sent over these fantastic photographs, that show vehicles operated by his friend, Mr G LE-Gresley, during the 1950s & 1960s. The photos show Morris and Bedford ice cream vans operating when they were current vehicles. They were in the livery of Tonibell, and Toni's.

(Other classic ice cream vans to feature on the site include this '50s photo of a Morris Cowley ice cream van, in the livery of B. Lewis of Morecambe.)

First up, a rear view showing a fleet of Morris J Type vans in Toni's colours. On offer were cones, wafers, fruities, choc bars, & gateaux. Reg. nos visible are 852 EMG & YMX 770.
8335 PU is a special coachbuilt Morris ice cream van, selling 'Tonibell' dairy ice cream. In the background is a similar vehicle.
A group photo, showing van drivers with their Morris Js - note the vehicle in the background, which look like standard height vans as opposed to high top ice cream vans.
A photo of George, owner of these photographs and smartly dressed, ready to sell ices from his van. He had this fleet in Basildon, Essex - it was first called Toni`s, then later renamed Tonibell.
Seen in a line are Morris vans 8336 & 8335 PU, with standard height J Type 852 EMG in the middle.
A snowy scene, with various vans in attendance. The van on the right looks like a Trojan to me, from the 1950s.
Here Morris 8335 PU is viewed from behind, with a J-Type alongside. To the left is a splitscreen Bedford CA, probably a 'work-o-bus'.
Another snow scene, with a great variety of Morrises and Bedfords in attendance. Nearest is a CA ice cream van registration 371 YMH.
A close view of 8336 PU, showing some of the products on offer. Notice the jolly cow mascots fitted to the roof on these vans.
A great old photograph, showing expectant children queuing up to buy an ice cream.

Thanks again for sending these photos over, brilliant!

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