Commer and Karrier lorry models for collectors

Posted by Chris Graham on 16th February 2024

Following his overview of Commer and Karrier lorry models made primarily as toys, Mike Neale now looks at those aimed at today’s collectors.

Commer and Karrier lorry

Commer and Karrier lorry: Vanguards’ 1/64 Commer QX box van in Shell-BP livery.

Recently I looked at period toys made of the BLSP-cabbed Commer QX, Karrier Bantam and Gamecock. This time it’s the turn of the newer models of these and the Sankey cab lorries.

In 1962, the Commer CA was launched with new cab with twin headlights, designed and built by Sankey’s of Birmingham. The CA was a 7½-ton and 8-ton payload lorry range, plus 10-/11- and 12-ton tractor units, replacing the equivalent Commer QX models, available with 115in, 141in and 162in wheelbases, many fitted with the TS3 engine, usually identified by a Rootes Diesel badge under the grille. In 1964, this became the CB, with minor detail changes, then the CC in 1965 with a slightly more powerful version of the TS3 engine. A multi-fuel version of the TS3 engine was available on the four-wheel-drive military version, which had a 4½-ton payload and the 162in wheelbase.

Commer and Karrier lorry

Vanguards Commer QX dropside, Carlsberg lager.

From 1963 the Commer VA 4-, 5-, 6- and 7-tonners were added, with the same Sankey cab as the CA but with single headlamps and choice of petrol or Perkins diesel engines (but not the TS3), bringing to an end the remaining QX models. This cab was also then fitted to the Karrier Gamecock. The VA became the VB in 1965, and then the VC.

The Commer Maxiload was launched in 1964, covering 14- and 16-tons gross vehicle weights, again with the Sankey cab and a more powerful TS3 engine. There was even a 24-ton articulated version. After Rootes acquired Dodge in 1965, this cab also appeared wearing Dodge badges. The Sankey cab lasted until 1973, superseded by the Commer Commander in 1974.

Commer and Karrier lorry

Karrier Gamecock Tanker by Vanguards in 1/64 scale.

Lledo Vanguards
As part of Lledo’s 1/64 scale diecast lorries range introduced in the late 1990s, the BLSP cab was produced in both Commer QX and Karrier Gamecock form. Many different four-wheel versions were produced, including flatbed, dropside, box van and tanker lorries, too numerous to go into here. They captured the shape well. Examples include a Commer QX box van in dark green, red and black Shell BP Electrical Oil Service livery, a Commer QX dropside as a green Carlsberg delivery lorry, and a Karrier tanker in green & red Butler Fuels livery.

British Transport Classics
Two very well detailed 1/50 scale resin models of the Commer QX were produced a few years ago by British Transport Classics, which are the best models of a QX that I have seen.  A four-wheel flatbed appeared in blue Knight’s of Old Ltd. livery with a black chassis and red wheels.  The second version was a 4-wheel dropside in red and blue F Compton Coal & Coke livery. 

Commer and Karrier lorry

Commer QX Coal delivery lorry by British Transport Classics.

There were separate chrome strips on the front, a chrome grille, separate door mirrors, photo-etched windscreen wipers, and realistic headlights.  I particularly like the pressed number plates. They occasionally still crop up for sale online for around £75-£100.

Commer and Karrier lorry

British Transport Classics 1/50 scale resin Commer QX, Knight’s of Old.

Promod’s 1/50 scale handbuilt and kit versions of the Sankey cab Commer CA/Maxiload and Karrier Gamecock in white metal and resin are still available.  See 

Commer and Karrier lorry

Yellow Post Office Telephones version of the Promod Karrier Gamecock.

Karrier versions include a 1968 7½ ton box van in mid-bronze green Post Office Telephones livery, a 1969 7½-ton box van in the later yellow Post Office Telephones livery adopted in that year, and the same model again in yellow British Telecom livery. The Karrier box van is also available in ‘blood and custard’ British Railways livery, and in later yellow BR livery.  There is a long wheelbase box van in red British Road Services livery, and in dark blue and white Pickfords livery. 

Promod’s Karrier Gamecock and trailer in BRS livery.

The Karrier Gamecock four-wheel dropside comes with a four-wheel trailer in red British Road Services livery, or on its own in the same BRS livery with a packing case load. A flatbed version is in black National Coal Board livery loaded with coal sacks. A tanker is available in green and black Power livery, or in dark blue and silver Pickfords livery.

Promod’s green Post Office Telephones Karrier Gamecock with the Sankey cab.

The twin headlight Commer models Promod call the Maxiload, but the size of wheels and tyres suggest these might really be the lighter weight Commer CA. Flatbed Commers include a Blue Circle Cement lorry in yellow and blue carrying a load of cement bags, and one in blue Milk livery with a load of milk churns. A short wheelbase coal hopper comes in black National Coal Board livery. 

British Railways Karrier Gamecock by Promod in 1/50 scale.

The tanker is available in dark green Castrol Industrial Oils livery, or in blue Milk Marketing Board livery. There is a 4×2 tractor unit in blue and red, and a tipper in yellow and black Wimpey livery. A box van has been produced in red Slumberland livery.

Promod Commer CA/Maxiload Tanker in Castrol colours.

Bristol Model Trucks
A wide range of white metal and resin lorry models have been made over the years by Bristol Model Trucks. Most are in 1/50 or 1/48 scale, with a few at 1/43 and other scales.  

Bristol Model Trucks modified Promod model to form a Commer Maxiload.

A heavier weight Commer Maxiload variant of the Sankey-cabbed lorries has been built using the Promod cab, but with chunkier wheels and tyres fitted, in dark blue and cream Ripponden & District livery, the real vehicle that it is based upon appearing on the cover of Bill Reid’s book on Commer Vehicles.

Commer QX British Road Services dropside by Bristol Model Trucks, approx. 1/47 scale.

Various versions of the Commer QX have been made, with a new cab casting based upon the old Dinky Karrier Decca Airfield Radar BLSP cab, but adapted with the grille and headlights from the Dinky 955 fire engine to form the Commer version.  A particular favourite of mine is the four-wheel dropside Commer QX in red British Road Services livery.  Others include an articulated BRS platform lorry with the later full-width grille.

Bristol Model Trucks Commer QX with the later full-width grille.

A good selection of these models is usually displayed on their stand at the Classic & Vintage Commercials Show at Gaydon, with some offered for sale there and via their eBay site, but as many of them are one-offs, the models to be found are ever-changing.

This feature comes from the latest issue of Classic & Vintage Commercials, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE


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