The fantastic classics on display at this year’s AEC Gathering

Posted by Chris Graham on 15th November 2023

David Reed reports on the interesting classic commercials that he spotted at this year’s AEC Gathering, held at Newark Showground.

AEC Gathering

AEC Gathering: 1961 AEC Mammoth Major 8 Mk V AV590 was new to BP/Shell as a tanker. Upgraded to an AV690 it then passed to Moore & Hopkins of Bodmin, Cornwall, and was later with B Cunningham of Rattery, South Devon. It was found by John Vohmann at a sale in 2007 and is an ongoing restoration project. On the back was a Mk V Mandator dating from the early 1960s. With chassis No. 1309, it had been with timber merchants G Mabbutt & Sons and is definitely in need of restoration.

There was a tremendous line-up of vehicles at the two-day 2023 AEC Gathering, that was held at Newark Showground over the late May Bank Holiday weekend. As ever, though, the vehicles on display were not just representing the AEC name; other makes of vehicles were welcome to attend, with line-ups of ERFs, Bedfords, Fodens, Scammells as well as interesting machines from other manufacturers. In all, the organisers estimate that around 300 lorries were on site.

AEC Gathering

1960 AEC Mercury tractor unit with a cab by Lewis Scott of Coventry and coupled to a Carrimore semi-trailer with retractor coupling, both with consecutive plating certificate numbers. The combination was new to Templeborough Rolling Mills and then passed to a potato merchant. Restored for the first AEC Society Rally, it was entered here by John Turner of Huddersfield.

With so many commercials attending, we’re dividing our coverage in two, with this month’s instalment concentrating on the actual AEC attendance. Next month, we’ll look at the best of the rest.

AEC Gathering

1960 AEC Mustang was new to Valley Carriers of Penarth, passing to MJ Parry & Sons in 1966, where it worked until 1972 when it was sold to DL Newton. It was bought back by TJ Parry & Sons in 2008 and restored.


AEC Gathering

1952 AEC Mammoth Major 6 Mk III was used as a fuel bowser at Fleet Air Arm at Yeovilton and registered No. 12 RN 44. On sale by the navy it was bought by Mike Harris and restored before passing into the McGovern fleet.


AEC Gathering

1948 AEC Mammoth Major was with Express Dairies of London, and then Rosser of Pontlliw, South Wales was its last commercial operator. It passed to Andrew Scott of Dundee in 1988 from Miles Fox of Clitheroe and has taken 10 years to restore.


AEC Gathering

Coming down from Scotland were three Ergomatic-cabbed vehicles from the Tom French fleet, with AEC, Albion and Leyland examples being seen.


AEC Gathering

1971 AEC Militant was with the military as a recovery, later being bought by a Dundee company. It passed to Neil Hall of Aberdeen around 2007 and was restored, making its way from Scotland to Newark for the event. Not a cheap journey, we imagine!


AEC Gathering

1948 AEC Regent III was new to Sheffield Corporation as part of an order to renew and boost the bus fleet after WWII. Used regularly on the outer circle route, after 12 years it was converted to a gritter/emergency vehicle and used mostly for winter gritting, a role from which it was withdrawn in 1978.


AEC Gathering

1966 AEC Mammoth Major had been used as a training aid at a North London college, with students building and dismantling the chassis, engine and gearbox several times. It was bought by Tony McGovern in 1994, and restored with a replacement cab and the bulk body being constructed in 1996.


AEC Gathering

1970 AEC Mandator V8 was new to Clayton Dewandre, brake component manufacturers in Lincoln. It subsequently passed to Lincoln Ferrous Metals as an oxygen bottle carrier before being bought in 1995 by Kevin Dennis and returned to a fifth wheel tractor unit. Bought in early 2000 by John Mayle, it later later passed to Chad Evans of Tipton.


AEC Gathering

Not all the vehicles were restored. This ex-military 1942 AEC Matador is thought to have been sent to the Middle East theatre of war in 1943. It seems that it was rebuilt around 1949 and later went into storage at the Central Vehicle Depot at Egginton near Derby and ended up being sold off from Ruddington in 1962.


AEC Gathering

Two Wimpey tippers together. 1979 Leyland Bison YYP 857T was new to Wimpey, going to Ireland in the mid 1980s. Seen with OLD 287, John Vohmann’s newly-restored 1952 AEC Mammoth Major Mk III that had appeared at the 2022 AEC Gathering in an unrestored state.


1970 AEC Mammoth Major is the only surviving semi-automatic AEC eight-wheeler out of ten built. It was originally built for ICI Tanker Division in Wilton on Teesside before passing to John Tweedie of Keighley. Later liveried with McAllister Transport, it subsequently passed to John Murphy of Huddersfield.


Dating from 1960/61, this AEC Mandator remained with AEC for the first ten years of its life, before being road-registered and used on continental work. Later used on steel haulage by Edwards of Lydbrook, it passed eventually to Lloyds of Ludlow.


1970 AEC Mercury. It was supplied by SP Commercials of Grimsby to Hostles who had an abattoir, being used as a skip lorry. They ran it for seven years. It passed to John Ford who ran it for twenty years and converted it to a recovery. It was derelict and was to be either cut up or restored, a new cab was sourced from a tanker.


1972 AEC Marshal was new to Dunlop & Ranken Steel Merchants, passing to a North Wales farmer before being sold at Telford Auctions in 1987. It then went to T Woods Plant Hire of Ironbridge, passing to Ray Banner in scrap condition in 2001, and took two years to put back on the road. It later passed to Geoff Newsome and then to Lewis Weaver.


1968 AEC Mammoth Minor TG6RF was new to Courtaulds Acetate of Derby before being converted into a recovery vehicle. It was bought by Sammy Roy Mallon and was also with Dave Keyworth before passing to Stephen Barber of Buxton where it has been restored as a tractor unit.


1959 AEC Mammoth Major was new to Shell/BP, and used in the London area as a tanker. It passed to Partridges of Belper, shortened and used as a recovery, being bought from them in a poor state by Gary Webb and has been painted in his father’s transport firm’s livery.


1976 AEC Mandator was new to Esso as an aircraft refueller at Jersey airport. It returned to the mainland in 1992 and worked at Plymouth Airport until 2005, when the pumping equipment was removed. It is restored in the livery of R Sinclair of Evesham who were AEC users, and was entered by Raymond Banner.


1974 AEC Mercury was possibly with BRS but not a lot of history is known until it was bought from H Fox & Sons of March, Cambridgeshire around 2006 by Steve Barber of Buxton. It was then parked up for two years before eight years of restoration followed. As is usual, it was seen at Newark with a York Neville Dump trailer.


Rob Smith’s 1954 AEC Militant Mk 1 was originally a Royal Artillery Gun Tractor and after ‘demob’ in 1977 it became a snowplough with Angus County Council until the late 1980s when it passed to Twyford Logistics and was converted to a recovery vehicle. Bought by Rob is 2006, it was restored as a timber tractor, its fourth guise.


1959 AEC Mercury was new to H Dando, of West End Garage, Chipping Sodbury, Bristol, with the last owner in the log book being Jack Brown of Worcester. Later passing to Neil James in rough condition, it passed to Graham Reed of Goole in 2005 and was restored.


1969 AEC Mercury was new to Bees Transport of Hinckley, later standing on a Buxton farm for 30 years. After passing to Kevin Dennis, it was bought by Roger Flavel and restored in original livery.


1958 AEC Mandator was purpose-built as a heavy haulage ballast box tractor for Westfield Transport of Mansfield, Notts. For 14 years it was driven by Stephen Mayle’s grandfather. Westfield Transport were well known for the sizes of loads being carried, especially long knitting machines for the hosiery trade. Bought by Stephen in 1995 for restoration, it has an 11.3-litre engine, 5-speed gearbox, double reduction Herringbone differential and is ballasted at around 12 tons. It was not unusual for this Mandator and trailer to be grossing at over 50 tons.

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



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