Old truck makers, number 1: Thrifty Bespoke Lorries Ltd. (1921-1924)
Laurie Dealer is always on the look out for the rare and when a funnel turned up in a dredger just of the Dorset coast it reminded Laurie Dealer of an old engineer, who was willing to try and build anything...on the cheap.
Manufacturer: Thrifty Bespoke Lorries Ltd, West Coker, Som.
Vehicles built: 1 (Price new: £2 s.3 d.8; RV: unknown)
By A. Chalker, first published in Western Gazette in 1924.
Cheapskate engineer Eric Shoemaker, founder of Thrifty Bespoke Lorries, built his first wagon by welding together metal table legs, dustbins, an Aga, a steel funnel, and pram wheels.
Weighing 2.3-tonnes and dubbed Nora I, his wife Nora, launched it ship style with a beer bottle. Nora I sped towards Weymouth, a seaside town five miles away, from his hilltop factory at 09.17 on a Monday.
Forgoing any steering mechanism to reduce costs Shoemaker clung in dismay to Nora I as it demolished two houses, bent a signpost, and narrowly missed several bystanders before careering through the docks and into the sea at 10.12.
According to on-lookers Shoemaker made good his escape on the 37 bus, which left Weymouth bound for Yeovil at 10.27. It is not known if he paid his fare.
This remains the only known picture of Nora I.
Real quality is thin on the ground
Truth is, there is enough out there but any trucks or vans (Laurie Dealer is also heading into plant, things are so tight) are not in a very good state. And with prices creeping up quality becomes an issue. No one wants to part with cash for ropy...rope, if you see what Laurie Dealer means.
Nevertheless, news that SMMT figures show the market down again, this time 33.1%, in September for trucks over 6.0-tonnes shows, as an industry, there won't be much coming through in the years to come. This year, the projected figure is just over 25,000 units.
Try carving that among the used market in three, four or five year's time. The UK could, three years down the line, see a rise in importing from mainland Europe and converting them or modifying the chassis. Not encouraging, but values in a sparse market will be driven by the manufacturers...