In this our first article on preserved, restored or lovingly kept removal vehicles, we have turned to Nigel Shaw from Specialised Movers who has two such vehicles in preservation. This article relates to his Guy Vixen and to his early Ford Fordson – Old Yorkie! Both have been displayed at the Movers & Storers Show at various times along with others from Rainbow Removals and Fox Group (more about those in other issues). We thank Nigel very much for these contributions and ask you to let us know if you too have a vehicle, no matter what condition, that you intend preserving.
Specialised Movers bought this Guy Vixen after many years of longing to own the vehicle.
In the late 90s Carole Shaw and myself had seen a Austin Morris BMC FFG pantechnicon for sale on the east coast of Lincolnshire. Specialised Movers was in its infancy then, and off we went to view the classic.
When we arrived in Saltfleet Lincolnshire, I was amazed to find barns full of every classic commercial you could imagine, and at the back of one of the old barns was a beautiful Guy Vixen, in black with gold writing, in the livery of McCarthys of Leeds. I was in absolute envy of this truck and knew we couldn’t afford it, so with my head down I was taken to look at the Austin I had come to buy which had been stood for many years.
It was originally a 1966 Pickfords’ removals pantechnicon, and had spent its last years as a fairground generator. It was in a sorry state, but I drove it back to Sheffield with the trade plates. What an experience! We spent 2 years re-panelling this van, and it was put at the back of our container store and forgotten about for 5 years.
Then Specialised Movers began to expand and the space was needed, and with this we took the reluctant decision to give the Austin to a good home on the understanding that when it was restored it had to be written in Specialised Movers livery.
The 1957 Ford Thames Fordson E83W was purchased in early 1993 from Kidds of Bridlington by my wife Carole as a surprise 45th birthday present for me.
Apparently the vehicle was found by previous owner Devine’s in a garage under tons of rubble. They carried out the original restoration of “Old Yorkie” from a rotting wreck, and their dedicated team took 3 days with shovels and buckets to salvage the vehicle. This was the first time “Old Yorkie” had seen daylight for 10 years, and during the next 2 years the van was totally rebuilt.
Specialised Movers employ two fitters to service our fleet of vehicles – in their spare time they totally dismantled the E83W and rebuilt it from the last nut and bolt. Finally they re-sprayed the vehicle with 7 coats of paint and all the woodwork was polished and stained. The signwriting was carried out by Kate Rhodes and the NAFWR badge on the back doors is totally freehand. The engine is a 4 cylinder side valve petrol engine, with a 3 speed crash gearbox. Every year the vehicle is sent for test and never fails. Indeed, we constantly use the van to deliver archive boxes in to the heart of Sheffield where it never fails to turn heads!
In 2012 on a cold and wet day 3 days before Christmas, Carole the wife (again) asked me to attend a staff Christmas party, at a restaurant near Barnsley. After chuntering I went to meet the staff and no one was there, but to my utter surprise my dream came true, the McCarthys Guy Vixen I had seen 18 years ago appeared. I couldn’t believe it when Carole said “Merry Christmas”.
We took the Guy Vixen to the “sign shop” and asked if they had a traditional sign writer, and once again to my relief, Paul Bolt (the owner) said they could do it, and what a fantastic job they did, including layered gold leaf.
About the Guy Vixen
It’s a 1938 Guy Vixen believed to be the only pre-war example still running. It has a meadows 4 cylinder petrol engine, an auto vacuum fuel system (and for anyone who knows this system, what a pain if the fuel tap is left on), and a 4 speed Chinese crash gearbox. The engine is 3686cc producing a mere 22.5 HP, it has a hydraulic braking system that just about stops the vehicle, and it runs on 20” crossply tyres.
Following its history (as best I can), it was originally introduced to a company in London and sold to W. Webbs removals in 1968. Then it was sold on to Ramsey’s – Shore Porter Society (not sure of the date), after which it must have been owned by Mick McCarthy (a very good friend of mine now) who let the vehicle go to the place I found it in Saltfleet. From there it went to Sharps Removals in Romford, then in April 2004 Grundy’s Removals took ownership until 2007 when it went back to Mick McCarthy in Leeds.
Our hats go off to Nigel and the many others in the moving industry who are ensuring future generations can enjoy the delights of these old and beautifully restored vehicles.