Friday, 6 March 2009

The van that's for sale, only you and me know about this...

Welcome to the sale of my Morris JB van, TGC770. It was originally purchased by the General Post Office in early 1958, and put to use in Muswell Hill in north London as a Telephone Linesman's van. I'm told the TGC758-770 batch was the last linesman's vans purchased by the GPO.
After being sold out of service in 1967, TGC was bought by an eccentric engineering lecturer by the name of Lester Stock who lived in Croydon. He used the van all the way up until his death in 2005, but along the way he had undertaken some modifications to make his annual trips to Ireland a bit more speedy and safer. The executor of Lester's will ended up selling TGC to a gentlman from Suffolk who didn't do much to the van other than keep an eye on it for a couple of years, and a chance conversation in 2008 led me to buy it. Before I tell you what I've done to TGC, let me outline what Lester did first, then you'll see just how unique this van is....
I mentioned before that Lester used to regularly drive to Ireland, as well as this being his daily driver. Now for those of you reading this who know these vans, you will realise that speed is not their forte, so you often get clear roads in front of you, but traffic jams behind! Not so for Lester. He wanted a bit more speed and better braking, so he changed the rear axle for Land Rover series 2a, the front axle from an Austin JU250 which is a drop beam affair with larger 10" hubs, and a gearbox from an Austin Cambridge. Unless you look you cannot see any of these, but it does make a tangible difference to it's performance. TGC has a B series 1489cc unit fitted. There are some nods to it's GPO past too, such as rubber wings, opening front windscreen and some fittings. The rear interior was removed by Lester, and is no longer there.
This van has never been restored. TGC has been fettled, maintained and renovated over the course of it's life, so what's there bodywise is pretty original. Lester obviously has dealt with things in his own inimitable way, and the only thing I can see is along each sill there is a bolted on repair along the bottom, but make no mistake, this van has no rust, and underneath is clean and extremely sound. During my ownership, I have replaced the lights and lighting circuit, regularly serviced it with oil changes, the usual plugs and points and have rebuilt the carb (which is an SU). When I got the van, Lester had obviously begun to repaint TGC, so I've completed that job into what would've been it's original colour, mid-bronze green, with a country cream interior. It was brush painted with Tekaloid. Make no mistake, this is not a show winning van, and if you're looking for concours this van ain't it, but what it does represent is an honest old fashioned clean van that is useable and turns heads wherever it goes. And in my opinion, unlike cars, vans were only pristine the day the left the factory, and after that they were merely functional vehicles that were maintained but never loved, hence why so few survive. There are very few of these around, I'm gutted to be selling it, and in truth although I'm selling this due to a change in circumstances, if it doesn't go I'll work around it. The reserve is realistic, but I reserve the right to end this auction early because TGC is for sale elsewhere.
There are some spares with the old boy. Original gearbox, rear axle and some windscreen glass, among other things. Please call Mike on 07590 541311 is you need any further details. The van is in Norfolk, but can be driven to London if necessary.