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Rootes commercial vehicles – Commer and Karrier – were one of the most innovative UK truck makers of the 1940s and ‘50s. Often regarded as a cautious, conservative bunch, only producing conventional designs that they were sure unadventurous customers would want to buy, Rootes trucks never the less, came up with some brilliant flashes of innovation, including in 1948, the QX underfloor engine concept. That was followed with the TS3 engine, an opposed-piston two-stroke diesel whose power, torque and fuel efficiency was still beating conventional four-stroke diesels a decade after its launch, and at the end of the 1950s, the Walk-Thru van, a piece of lateral thinking that took an American style urban delivery van, and adapted the idea to British conditions.
None of this did Rootes much good in the long term, however, as they struggled in the 1960’s to compete with UK market leaders Leyland, Ford and Bedford and by 1976, when the Commer name was dropped, less than 10,000 of the Dunstable-built trucks found buyers.
But Commer/Karrier had their strengths too, with their flashes of innovation, a new factory in Dunstable, a family feeling in the long-established factory at Luton where Commer had set up business back in 1906 and terrific brand loyalty. All combine to ensure Rootes commercial vehicles remain a fascinating part of Britain’s post-war truck industry.
Publisher: Crecy Publishing Limited
Number of pages: 64