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.

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.