Trucks of The Year 2021

It’s been another funny old year and I haven’t actually done many shows sadly. There have been plenty of new trucks about despite the various cancellations and seemingly endless restrictions, and a lot of shows were still able to go ahead as they were outside. My annual trip to a foreign show was once again put on hold, but hopefully next year I can take my own truck abroad for the first time since UJN 509V back in 2009! Anyway I digress. Trucks of Year really comes following the week in trucks idea, which despite contrary belief first came about on TB and not elsewhere. I wanted to point out a few stand out trucks for me this year in the hope you will all share photos of some of your favourites too in the comments below.

I’ll start with Coles & Sons New Old Skool. Coles never disappoint and they really are no show ponies, they spend a lot of time abroad and do a lot of high profile work. For me I found this truck to take Coles back to their roots and back to the family business colours, but at the same time wowing us all as always. Just for info the Coles & Sons page released the first photos and videos of the truck back in January this year and have since had over half a million views, most of which came in the first week.

Next one worth a mention is this Volvo FH V1 restoration my Bert De Mooij and Bert De Mooij. I love the Retro Truck Show in September and for me this truck is 100% what it’s all about. The retro trucking scene is for trucks that have been restored and put into the glory of years gone by, perhaps with a modern twist. If we cast ourselves back to 1993 when Volvo launched the version 1 FH, this truck would have been spot on for a Dutch flower truck. Not over the top by any means, just clever use of paint (of course it’s Dutch!) and a few accessories that are easily accepted as being period. It looks spot on for me, love it.

©️Tim Andrew

Next a couple of personal favourites. The above Actros Edition 2 special Edition with all the boxes ticked is an amazing truck. Once again MB Trucks are pioneering the way with technology, which whether you like it or not is coming now the majority of manufacturers are now copying and offering similar. This Actros is my favourite new truck delivery of the year. Everyone loves new truck day, but perhaps because of how passionate Wilkin & Sons are about Mercs or perhaps because it was the first Edition 2 on the road in the UK, for me my favourite work related truck.

Next up…. The Gr814. My own truck, bought and imported from Germany in February. I love little sleeper cabs, I love mini tractor units and when I bought my first truck in 1997 I couldn’t afford an 814! This has had two owners since 1989 and has done a genuine 260,000km from new. It has nearly all the available factory options from the time, which really just leaves me only to do a little titivating and then hopefully get it painted before 2022’s show season.

Next a proper big hitter and a worthy truck of the year mention. This DAF by Paul Cecil is simply awesome. Even if you’re not a DAF fan, or a fan or green trucks you have to appreciate this Gloucestershire beauty. I don’t know Paul too well but we have the odd chat and I remember a few years back at Assen, Paul saying the truck was in build and was having a few paint issues, but those have all been overcome and the result I’m sure is exactly what Paul and family were after. One thing to remember is that building a show winner takes time and patience people. That said it is a hard working truck, it covers all of Europe on a regular basis and is cleaner than nearly any other truck you’ll see. It is also clearly appreciated by the European show circuit too, picking up trophies at both the Nordic Trophy and the Powertruck Show in its first year. Well done Paul.

Attention to detail.

For me I think this is my truck of the year 2021. A boy hood dream and poster truck for lots of us. I have been doing the Centurion list with Richard Payne and hopeful of getting a publisher for ‘22, but finding out this truck was being restored back to its original glory and then seeing her in September will take some beating. I have spoken to Michael Taylor during the restoration and was also privy to seeing the artwork being done by Matt during the painting process. I have even spoken to John Philips and he is over the moon with it too. The truck is as good as I’d hoped, the attention to detail is everywhere. Note the Keltruck mudflap’s have the 1991 phone number not the current one. I also love the artwork, we all know Matt is a true artist and should be recognised in the art world for his masterpieces. I also like that the artwork is a modern take on the original, as in the images aren’t quite as they were in 1991 but are Matts take on them. A real dream truck for me and once again well done to Michael and all involved, I really look forward to seeing again in 2022. They say you shouldn’t meet your hero’s…… certainly not trucking true in this case.

My son took my picture next to the truck I had on my wall as a boy.

Claudia is Back!

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Briefly! I managed to log back in to a very old email account, that to be honest I thought was somewhat obsolete. I found an old folder full of old picture messages I had emailed myself, while out and about in my truck around the UK and Northern Europe. Long before the days of doing everything on our phones we had to keep things simple and send photos via email rather than download, upload, ping, Tweet, Facebook, MySpace or what ever else you can do these days.

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I think I have seen them before and perhaps I should have been bothered to look through my Flickr photos to see if I have them already as they do look familiar. Not to worry though as these were very happy days and we all love a blast from the past. Even though these were 2004-2007 I can remember where they were all taken as I’m sure we all can, funny how I can remember everywhere I’ve loaded but struggle to remember the neighbours names!

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So starting from the top, photos as follows;

1) Boughey Distribution in Deeside. A full load of detergents. Bloomin heavy but a good tip and would happily tip you early if they could. Shower available.

2) Although I can’t remember the name, this was the big roll place on Trafford park. Loading 5x 1 ton toilet rolls. A great load once it was on although usually had to wait a fair while to get loaded. What’s the name of the place people?!

3) Unloading a full load of scaffold boards at Beaver 84 near Small Heath, Birmingham. I remember loading this myself out at Wurselen, Germany. The Germans weren’t impressed that I wouldn’t load dripping wet timber to the roof at the front of the trailer as it meant leaving 2 packs off.

4) Parked up solo outside my sisters old house, no idea why or what the occasion was though, Claudia had a shine on though.

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The Gr814 – D to GB

How do you solve a problem like Maria getting a truck from Germany to England on a very tight budget?? Call in a load of favours and ask those close colleagues from 25 years in the transport industry what they can do to help. So I have a best mate who was shipping more JCB’s out the country than anyone else for a few years. Said BM was able to negotiate a very decent package for shipping the truck from Bremerhaven back to Harwich, but at the shippers discretion. Meaning when the boat was empty and wasn’t pushed for space. This also meant that it would be down to the shipper to tell me when he wanted it. Not to bad at all other than the truck was still 102 miles away from Bremerhaven.

Time to bite the bullet. As I had half a plan I went back to Tobi (the seller) and put the current plan to him, thinking he might be able to make a suggestion or suggest a company close to him who may be able to move the truck for me. Tobi came back to me straight away and offered to drive the truck himself to Bremerhaven as it would be a nice little “good bye” drive to a truck that had served him very well. Once again a great help from Tobi. The only downside was it meant having to buy some export plates so the truck could driven after Tobi had de-registered it from his name which we had to do so I could arrange customs, don’t forget this was a month after Brexit as well as the Covid effect. You see it really wasn’t the best easiest time to be buying a new toy! About a week after the plan was hatched, the call from the shipper came and they wanted it on the sailing out of Bremerhaven on the 16th February. This gave us a little time for Tobi to do the necessary at his local tax office (such a great and seemingly easy way to do everything vehicle related in a local office rather than dealing with a single national association based in Wales!!) and we opted for 2 week Transit plates just in case. Tobi planned to take the truck up to Bremerhaven on the 15th February so it was there ready and waiting for the boat to arrive the day after.

As you can see from the photos this would have been as easy 102 mile ride apart from the snow came down in Germany and made for some very tricky driving conditions. Being an expert racing driver Tobi had no real issues apart from needing a little help from the Polizei to get over the brow of a hill! Having made it to Bremerhaven Tobi checked in and was asked to drop the truck on the quay for the night so it was ready to load in the morning.

The following day, the 16th February, I heard nothing so I’ve always been a “no news is good news” type of chap and I assumed the truck had made it onto the boat and left Germany for the UK. I was correct and the next call I got was to say the truck was sat on the quay at Navyard in Harwich, 30 minutes from my house. Customs was done and paid for while the truck was enroute and I was therefore free to collect the truck on the Saturday morning and take it home.

Once in Harwich I was greeted with the above. I cannot tell you how nervous I was, from the point of view we hear so many horror stories of vehicle sales where people don’t view the motor first, but I was more than surprised and more than happy. Tobi Marggraf from Racing Team Marggraf had been true to his word and the truck was in great condition. All the paperwork and German registration documents were in the glove box including some original owners paperwork, more than I needed but again proved how honest Tobi had been. I needed all the original copies of the German paperwork to make the UK registration as easy as possible. This just left me to start her up and take a very very enjoyable trip back up the A120 and A12 home. Thanks Tobi you know I will look after her!! One truck purchased and shipped back to the UK for a touch less than what the truck had originally be advertised for. Happy blogger.

The Gr814 – The Deal

I’m sure during lock down all of us spent more time scrolling through Europe’s used truck ads than ever before. I’m sure during lock down all of us spent more time buying things online than ever before. Add these two scenarios together and can you guess what happens??

On the 24th January at 2049hrs (iPhones save the date and time of images!) yet another search on mobile.de threw up the image above. How could anybody resist! I ran through the photos on the ad and the truck looked immaculate and claimed a genuine 260,000km on a truck made in 1989. The truck is an 814S sleeper, which had a factory conversion into a 7 seater, 3 singles in the front row and a 4 person bench seat in the back. Through the nature of my day job, I checked the original build spec and the truck is as it was the day it left the factory, even the paint colours are still the same.

I’m a sucker for a 7.5 tonner and sleeper cabbed one at that, add in the mini artic bit and it’s like Christmas Day all over again. I had to have it!! I WhatsApp’d the seller (Tobi) straight away and he replied with some detail and some more photo’s- the deal had to be done and it was within my very small budget and if the seller was being truthful and the photos weren’t hiding anything then the truck looked pretty straight. The truck has spent its years pulling race trailers around Europe so the mileage would be pretty low bearing in mind all the sitting around between events and also when at events, so the mileage could be genuine. Maybe a few days later and a deal was struck, we were still in lock down here in the UK which meant I couldn’t get out to collect it so a plan had to be worked on to get her back to the UK. Was I nuts? Buying a truck over the internet, from Germany, from a man I had never met or actually spoken to, in lock down….

….who cares, sometimes a risk needs to be taken. The seller Tobi, was very helpful and gave me copies of all the paperwork by email and also sent me a receipt for payment on his race team headed paper with all the official details. Tobi also said the truck could stay with him for as long as it took me to come up with a pick up plan and he was happy to help in anyway he could. So finally I was a truck owner again, with what looked like a genuine mini artic tractor unit and all I had to do was get it from Bad Fallingbostal, Germany which is approximately halfway between Hanover and Hamburg. The only thing I knew at this point was, sadly it wouldn’t be me driving it back due to lockdown restrictions.

Spotted: My Old Atego!!

Spotted this morning getting on the M5 at Taunton, only my old Atego!! I’m so excited. It must have released a load of racing pigeons as it was in a mini convoy of other bird carrying trucks. Jack Rigby was quick enough to get some video coverage and I’ve no doubt it is AV52 KGU, now taxed until April 2022. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE can someone tell me more about who has it, who runs and what the new reg is. It’s probably heading back up the M5 and M6 as we speak back to it’s north west base. Come on truck detectives, tell me more!

Actros Edition 2

Actros Edition 2: limited special model with a “wow” effect

Whereas with the new Actros F, Mercedes-Benz Trucks especially focuses on customers who mainly want the greatest possible functionality from a commercial vehicle with the three-pointed star, the Actros Edition 2, which can be ordered from January 2021, caters to an entirely different target group: innovation-loving professional drivers and self-driving hauliers whose truck is their home and who place great value on individual style and high comfort. Actros Edition 2 drivers have a strong emotional bond with their vehicle, which is more than a working and driving machine to them. With the special model, hauliers enhance their company’s image while also holding a trump card against the current shortage of drivers.

Up to 40 additional options for interior and exterior as well as design elements from Edition 1 give the Actros Edition 2, limited to 400 vehicles, an unmistakeable character. The result: a premium Actros with a “wow” effect and features that highly distinguish it from the series models of the internationally successful model range.

Driving, working and living in a luxurious environment

A whole range of equipment features highlight the Edition 2’s sense of luxury. Among these, the stylish interior boasts a dashboard and door handles covered in nappa leather, several interior parts in a carbon-fibre look as well as a roof hatch with ambient lighting. The new home screen in the Multimedia Cockpit’s primary display as well as the Edition logo out of polished and brushed aluminium on the passenger side are also real eye-catchers. The top bed comes with bedding and has a width of 900 millimetres. An all-around curtain – almond beige on the inside, black on the outside – ensures privacy in a stylish way. This equally applies to the curtain with the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star in front of the bed.

The highlights of its exterior include, among other things, exclusive side wall decals with a star pattern, the “Edition 2” lettering in the lacquered sun visor, the Actros emblem in front, the Actros lettering on the upper side of the cab’s back wall, four additional LED spotlights in the sun visor as well as three LED working lights behind the cab. From the side, the stainless steel entrance steps are especially noticeable. The rear axle caps are also stainless steel, with protective wheel nut caps. Additionally, an illuminated Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star with black aperture and several decorative grille elements in dark chrome also comes as standard, while the headlamp surround is darkened.

The Edition 2 is offered for all two- and three-axle variants of the current Actros generation with GigaSpace and BigSpace cabs as a left-hand or right-hand drive. The cab paint is freely selectable and can be tailored specifically to the customer’s company colours, while the vehicle front is always painted in moonstone grey metallic, which ensures a high recognition value.

The Edition 2’s series equipment contains the following six packages:

  • Safety Package with a number of active driver assistance systems
  • Comfort Package with LED ambient lighting, shaving mirror, refrigerator and many other amenities for comfortable living
  • Driving Package with leather steering wheel, electric sun blind and more
  • Sight Package with, among others, bi-xenon headlights, rain sensor and LED rear lamps
  • Media Package with sound system, notebook holder, additional 12/15 V socket
  • Extra Line with LED position lights in the MirrorCam, LED indicators and Welcome Light

In addition, the Actros Edition 2 also comprises individually configurable service packages such as the new, mileage-based service contract Mercedes-Benz CompleteMile as well as made-to-measure leasing, financing and insurance solutions.

Excellent security features and tailored connectivity

Mercedes Benz Trucks’ goal with the Edition 2 is the same as its goal with the current Actros generation: to contribute to accident-free traffic and advance toward the vision of fully accident-free driving by utilising active safety assistance systems. For this purpose, the Edition 2 is equipped with the emergency braking assistant Active Brake Assist in its fifth generation (ABA 5), the optional Active Drive Assist (ADA) for partially automated driving (SAE level 2), the standard MirrorCam that replaces main and wide-angle mirrors as well as the Sideguard Assist with pedestrian and cyclist detection available ex-works. In conjunction with these assistance systems, the further developed Predictive Powertrain Control (PPC) is also impressive. The system not only saves a lot of fuel, but is also a relief for the driver on rural routes.

The driver is shown the activities and functions of systems such as ABA 5, ADA or PPC in the user-friendly Multimedia Cockpit, with its two colour displays forming the centrepiece of the Human-Machine Interface (HMI). In addition, further HMI innovations such as the display of the next navigation event in the primary display or the total weight of tractor unit and trailer are also included. For PPC, the kilometre display is no longer shown as a bar diagram but in absolute values, and the battery status is also displayed.

If you decide to purchase the interactive Multimedia Cockpit as an upgrade to the standard version, you also receive fast access to the Mercedes-Benz Truck App Portal. This enables haulage companies to harness the new opportunities of connectivity and equip their vehicles with efficiency- and comfort-enhancing apps such as telematics services from Fleetboard or third-party providers. The new logistics application HABBL from Fleetboard Logistics is new here. This software enables you to easily integrate trucks from your own fleet as well as from subcontractors into the dispatching process, provide assignment data and therefore facilitate communication with the drivers: Everyone involved in the transport process – driver, dispatcher and end customer – always receives the required information. This increases process quality while creating a high level of transparency

Dover Mystery Machine

I say mystery machine but we can all agree that the evidence suggests it’s a lovely old SK Mercedes-Benz. That said, would you expect to spot it in a very windy Dover, waiting to ship out on a Tuesday evening?? No not really. Spotted by top #littlebigcabclub member Mr Marsh, this old girl was joining the lines waiting to head off to France last night. A few thing to consider, it’s a day cab, it’s a Luton, it’s got a rear loading well, it’s plain white, it’s not your average continental spec is it. Taking all that on board I think it is a regular on the high seas to Europe. Why? Well it’s an 18 tonner but why is it so low, especially for a Luton body, if it was UK only surely it would be taller??

Anyway a little bit of fun, any ideas who’s it is or what it’s doing?? Have you seen a regular shipper outer who doesn’t fit the shipper outer bill??

The Beast of BeneLux

In the wonderful world of Mercedes-Benz and the family network across the world of Daimler Trucks, we sell a huge variety of different marques and models from Freightliner to Western Star, to Bharat Benz and the vast array of FUSO chassis available, I have to say I still think the best of the lot is the new Actros / Actros 5 / MP5 or how ever you prefer to call it. There is also a loyal following of truck sales staff across the world that we get to meet and talk to via social media these day and I can’t wait to see how my Australian colleagues get on with MirrorCam on their road trains and also how long it will be before Freightliner catch up the Actros on fuel. Anyway I do digress slightly, so back to the top. I have come to know a salesman from Mercedes-Benz BeneLux who by all accounts sells some belters and has already clocked up 30 SLT’s, those are the heavy haulage tractors. So when Geert Groeninckx messaged me and asked if I can keep I secret of course I said yes! Luckily now the secret is out and I can share these photos with you. This is how Mercedes-Benz Trucks roll in Belgium and Luxembourg……..

The press release from Our BeneLux friend reads as follows, this is a direct translation into English and I will follow it up with the words for our European readers too;

Last Thursday, some customers and prospects of Mercedes-Benz BeLux were introduced to the sporty AMG range at the Circuit of Zolder during the Petrolhead Days. During the break, our new show truck also had the opportunity to drive a few laps. 🤩

Thanks to Olivier Dekens “OlliVision” and Ivan Tarantsov Photo for these beautiful pictures!

Afgelopen donderdag maakten enkele klanten en prospecten van Mercedes-Benz BeLux kennis met het sportieve AMG gamma op het Circuit van Zolder tijdens de Petrolhead Days. Tijdens de pauze kreeg onze nieuwe showtruck ook de kans om enkele ronden te rijden. 🤩

Bedankt aan Olivier Dekens “OlliVision” en Ivan Tarantsov Photo voor deze prachtige foto’s!

If you fancy a new Actros in LHD that will give you some of the best MPG or KM/Litre then the truck is still for sale. Remember it doesn’t just look good, it has world leading technology to make this the safest and most advanced truck on the market, as a 4×2 it can be stage 3 autonomous. It’s just this one looks better than most of the rest! What an awesome looking truck, 4×2 tractors still look proper to me especially when being chased by a couple of AMG’s!

Right who’s got the phone number for Silverstone…….

Piggy Back to Burgos

….a bit further to be fair but it was all I could think of! Hello bloggers it’s been a while hasn’t it. Been busy with lockdown, furlough, home schooling, back to work, DIY and what ever else, so apologies for the absence, certainly strange times for all of us.

If we could I’m sure we’d all do a “Graham” and get in the car and bugger off to our own vista in the Spanish countryside away from everything and everyone. I noticed GW shipping out in his trusty Galaxy earlier in the week. Please to say the old boss hadn’t forgotten me on his run to the sun. As it goes I have quite a lot of you thinking about me, well they are your words…..”saw this and thought of you”…… you know how it goes.

Anyway just a quick blog, in times of lock down, nothing like a couple of photos of a truly European set up with this trucksporter. Three new Swedish Scania’s made in French France, on the way to Portuguese Portugal, loaded on a Spanish based German made Mercedes-Benz, with an Italian built body. Any guesses on the nationality of the driver?? Mr Wilson took the photo on Thursday on a quick stop on the A1 near Burgos.

A Nearly New-by LP

The blog gains a few fans every week and more and more are asking if they can write a blog or I ask them if they want too. Either way it means we all get to enjoy a wider variety of trucking stories. This time around I asked my friend, Dominic Newby, of MB Roadstars fame, if he would write a few words about this “as-new” Mercedes-Benz LP 1626. Luckily for us Dom is happy to share his photos and a few words about this Danish beauty. I think it needs a retro frigo trailer behind it though, who agrees??

The LP 1626’s cubic cab is the very model of minimalist design; debuting in September 1963 at the IAA in the heavy duty category it’s huge windscreen, surfaces and right angled lines, the vehicle’s exterior is modern, even by today’s standards. The design allowed the driver to experience a new world: a comfortable entry, space behind the wheel, a magnificent panoramic view and a minimal sized engine tunnel. The LP’s tilting cab was immediately recognisable by doors drawn to the height of the bumper and the slightly raised roof was integrated in 1969.

“I was lucky enough to experience one of these beauties at the recent Stuttgart Retro-Classic. This LP is a dump truckconverted to a fire truck and is now in its third lease of life as a semi-trailer tractor unit, despite these different ‘lives’ it has hardly been used. The gears feel just as they did on day one, the V8 growls at the first rev and the frame and chassis are a million miles away from rust and bearing damage. It could have just rolled off the production line.

“After a lengthy restoration converting the old fire truck the finished article is simply stunning. The theme of the LP is Denmark; there is red and black patterned material on the rear wall and on the mattress, the engine tunnel is upholstered in red man-made leather and there is fur on the seats. The rear wall also contains a lampshade bought from a flea market, all of which lends character to the cab. On the exterior, fire engine red is combined with green along with a ‘Danmark’ illuminated sign on the roof. This LP is truly one of a kind and is exactly the type of lorry I would love to add to my collection – long live the true ‘retro classics’!