In my last update, I mentioned how my T45 book was now confirmed and in the pipeline – things have certainly moved on considerably since then.
After putting one or two cries for help and input out into the ether, some key names have come forward and offered a colossal amount of facts, figures and personal insight from a genuine ‘coalface’ perspective – all adding that certain priceless value to a book. Ex-Leyland design engineers, chassis development engineers and even the former head of marketing and promotions seem to be on side to share their collective thoughts about one of the biggest projects ever undertaken during the era of BL that was first started back in 1976.
Even former drivers, who recall their early experiences driving pre-production ‘evaluation’ trucks, fitters who worked on them and dealer salesmen who sold them have put their hand up to be counted – some of the information coming through is never-seen-in-print-before gold. But, reverting to a car-based scene, possibly the most interesting of the key players to offer their services and tell their stories is one of the most legendary designers of the 20th Century who counts such truly iconic products as the Reliant Scimitar, Bond Bug and Raleigh Chopper amongst his creations.
Dr Tom Karen is the former Chief Designer and Managing Director of OGLE Design Limited and it was his company which won the contract to design and style the interior and exterior shape of what became the Leyland T45 range of trucks. Today, he lives in very pleasant surroundings enjoying his retirement in Cambridgeshire and I was lucky enough to get in touch with him. We recently enjoyed two very informative meetings and anecdotal trips down memory lane as a result of which he has contributed some astounding artwork and personal insight into the biggest task his company had ever undertaken.
Tom has graciously agreed to write a foreword for the title and it’s matters like this and, of course, details from readers of this site, who also have had tangible first-hand experience of Leyland Trucks, that make it work. This makes me feel proud to write about a piece of history which in the past has, at best, only been skimmed over in print. Another personal thank you goes to Andrew Goundry, who got in touch through this site. Andy was a development engineer with Leyland and his exposure to the firm includes working at Longbridge and subsequent other key positions in the commercial world.
Finally, I have my late father to thank. It was his lengthy period working in the British Army R.E.M.E regiment keeping various truck and transporters moving sometimes in conditions of conflict and his later period working with Leyland DAF that maybe installed my passion for propelled vehicles. The project is still being fleshed out but a good number of words and images are already locked into the database so to all those who have contacted me – thank you very much indeed, it’s much appreciated.
The book now has a working title called ‘Leyland T45 – The Complete Story’ and I ask if any of you have previously had exposure or first-hand experience of T45, good or bad, to get in touch and, wherever it may fit in, you can play your part or tell your story should you wish to!