They say that time flies, and how true is that sentiment? This month marks the 20th anniversary of the collapse of Europe’s largest truck builder – Leyland DAF. Way back in 1987, the two brands of DAF and Leyland were merged into one following the Conservative Government’s decision to start privatising the State owned-Rover Group.
Leyland Bus was sold to a consortium of bankers and its management (only to sell out to Volvo just 18 months later) whereby Leyland Trucks Ltd and Freight Rover (amid much controversy) was sold to a much smaller truck builder that opened up new markets for all companies.
As many of you will already know, Leyland Trucks Ltd still produces commercials in the Lancashire town its named after. In fact, it’s the only part of the original BL empire that still functions in its original guise. Both DAF and Leyland are now under American ownership – Paccar and remain a dominant force on the European market.
A little while ago we introduced some truck features on the site and on the whole, we are pleased with the reception with some interesting comments from those who were not even aware of the importance of the truck division and well informed readers alike.
A short while ago, I was approached by an automotive publisher and asked what my thoughts would be on writing a publication on the Leyland T45 range. After some initial emotions of both flattery and sheer panic, I picked myself off the floor and accepted the challenge.
The Leyland T45 range first introduced back in 1980, was possibly the most significant and important event within British Leyland’s Commercial division since the creation of BLMC in 1968. A truly epic investment that covered not only a new range but plant and aftersales network really did turn its fortunes around.
The survival of British Leyland, and the development of the car range throughout the whole of the late 1960s and ’70s totally depended on the cash that was syphonned away from the profit that the truck and bus division continued to make against all odds. The T45 ushered in a new era of truck that was not only pleasing on both the eye and the environment, but also made a case for itself on the balance sheets of operators, too. It’s an era that has been largely ignored by other motoring writers, but it’s a story that is interesting, entertaining and amazing considering the parlous state of BL as it entered the 1980s.
Your help is needed with the input. Some of you may have driven, sold, repaired, operated and bought this huge range of innovative trucks that spanned from the lightweight Roadrunner through the premium-weight Roadtrain. No matter how big or small your input, your experience or anecdotes are vital to create a fair and balanced account. The years covered will be 1980-1993 in order to keep my sanity and to keep the book within publishing and wordage constraints.
All parties who contribute and feature their input will gain a credit in the finished book upon its publication. At the moment it is still in the development and research stage and exact date of publication is to be confirmed. Anything could be of use from personal hands on experience through to pictures or spec sheets.
If you can help at this early stage in any way, you can contact me via firstname.lastname@example.org.