Peter Simpson pays a return visit to Jamie Newton, this time spotlighting his beautifully-maintained, classic Leyland lorry trio.
Back in the April issue, Classic & Vintage Commercials called in on Jamie Newton, a Norfolk-based enthusiast who has, over the past decade, assembled a rather remarkable collection of preserved lorries. In that issue, we looked at Jamie’s Fords and his solitary AEC. This time we’re moving on to consider the three Leylands.
To recap briefly, Jamie is now in his early fifties, comes from a farming background and his initial preservation-based interest was vintage tractors; plus a 7½ tonner for ‘tractor transport’. He has, though, “always liked lorries”, and in the past decade he has finally found himself in a position to put that enthusiasm into practice.
But once he did start, he found it rather hard to stop and, over the past decade, he’s assembled a collection of some 19 lorries.
Jamie has chosen to take a slightly different approach from some enthusiasts in that almost all his lorries have been acquired in good order, and just one (the AEC Marshal we looked at in the April issue) has needed a full restoration. Everything else has been bought in conditions ranging from running-for-improvement to fully-restored.
Some might think of this as an easy way into the hobby. I say it’s not; even keeping a single preserved lorry in good order takes time and effort. Then multiply that by 19 and… Well it’s certainly not simply a case of hopping into a lorry and driving it to shows!
And while buying ready-restored lorries is usually cheaper in the long run than restoring one, multiply the maintenance costs by 19 and you’re looking at some pretty big figures!
Take tyres for example. All Jamie’s lorries have new ones all round for safety and because, in his words, “they look right.” Even with trade and bulk-buy discounts, you’re looking at £250 apiece and each lorry needs at least six – so £1,500 per lorry. Then multiply that by 19. Then throw into the mix all the other routine maintenance such as oil changes and… Well, you do the maths! In this context, it’s important to note that unlike most collections of this size, Jamie’s isn’t backed or supported by a multi-million haulage business; he finances the whole lot himself!
Fortunately, Jamie has two things that help him. One is lots of space with a large building which allows the whole collection to be stored under cover. The other is practical assistance from long-term friend Scott Usher, who helps with the maintenance and repair side of things as well as driving the lorries to shows. Jamie also has strong support in his passion for old lorries from his wife, Louise, and increasingly, from his 15-year-old son, Marshall.
Anyway, so that’s the background. Now let’s take a look at the three Leylands that form part of this rather special collection.
1974 Leyland Clydesdale
SHK 198M was actually the first lorry that Jamie bought – it arrived in Norfolk about 10 years ago from a previous owner in Essex who’d carried out a fairly light restoration, and also converted it from a four-wheel tipper to a drawbar tractor unit – for use with a large showman’s living van. It’s thought to have travelled extensively during that period, including attending the Great Dorset Steam Fair on more than one occasion.
By contrast, the Clydesdale’s working life seems to have been a pretty easy one. It’s thought to have been a farmyard lorry from new, and may well have worked only seasonally, as it still has just 59,000 miles on the clock, which Jamie suspects from the lorry’s overall condition is probably correct.
In fact, apart from the chassis having been shortened, the lorry seems amazingly original all round; yes it’s been restored, but it doesn’t really seem to have needed that much. For example the cab – which would usually need pretty extensive metalwork on a Leyland of this age – doesn’t appear to have had any welding anywhere! The cab interior, too, seems totally original but very, very good, with just a little bit of patina-type wear to confirm that it’s the original 1974 material rather than more recent replacement.
When Jamie bought the lorry it had been standing out of use for a while, and a certain amount of recommissioning and general catch-up servicing was required. Jamie also repainted the lorry and had his sign-writing applied.
Apart from one hub seal that needed renewing and a new set of tyres all round, the Cyldesdale hasn’t, however, needed any mechanical attention; the Leyland 504 engine and five-speed gearbox have performed perfectly throughout Jamie’s ownership.
It was, though, in Jamie’s own words “a bit of a bone-shaker” on the road; with no load on the back it was a bit tail-happy and generally bouncy. To counter this, he’s fitted the ballast box seen in the photographs here, and this has improved matters significantly. Like the previous owner, Jamie tows a caravan with the Clydesdale.
He doesn’t do the type of long journeys that the previous owner undertook, but the Clydesdale does get out and about regularly, and further appearances are planned for 2023.
1985 Leyland Cruiser
Jamie’s Cruiser, C87 NAL, might well be familiar, as it has graced the pages of CVC before; it was formerly owned by Kevin Dennis, sold by him as part of the 2020 clearance auction; as we’ll see in a moment, Jamie knew Kevin prior to the auction, having bought from him in the past. He also bought some other vehicles here, as we’ll see in the next feature.
Anyway, the Cruiser, like the Clydesdale, is a remarkably original lorry, and another that has been given only a light restoration. It came, apparently, from a training college in the Nottingham area where it clearly didn’t do many miles – it still has just 67,000 on the clock – but one imagines that the TL11 engine and other mechanical components were taken apart and put back together a fair few times! In Kevin’s ownership it was put back into good mechanical order and painted in Kevin’s house livery.
Sold by Kevin in good order throughout, the Cruiser has had its chassis and wheels painted in Jamie’s ownership plus, of course, Jamie’s sign-writing has been added. The only other work it’s needed has been a new roof lining. For this, Jamie sourced a suitable material online, then made and fitted the new lining himself.
1988 Leyland Roadtrain
Like the Cruiser, Jamie’s Rolls-Royce Eagle-engined Roadtrain (F719 ANT) is, as the livery suggests, an ex-Kevin Dennis vehicle. This one, however, was bought privately in 2019, a year before the clearance auction.
This one, though, was acquired by Kevin as a total wreck and fully restored in his ownership. Other than that “it came off a farm”, Jamie knows nothing of the working history of this particular lorry. When acquired by Kevin it was fitted with the remains of a sleeper cab. This has been replaced by one of Kevin’s well-known stock of ex-military cabs; this required a certain amount of civilianisation work. The lorry was also fully gone-through mechanically.
In Jamie’s ownership the Roadtrain has been fully repainted – but still in Kevin Dennis livery – and treated, expensively, to a new set of tyres all round. Of the Leyland trio, the Roadtrain is probably Jamie’s favourite to drive as it has “plenty of pull” and, although never really designed for use without a semi-trailer, it’s a bit more stable than the other two.
So there we are – three fine lorries that are being well cared for and kept in good order. There’s still much more to come here though, and next month we’ll take a look at Jamie’s two Fodens. Which, in stark contrast to this trio, have between them, covered more than over two million miles!
This feature comes from a recent issue of Classic & Vintage Commercials, and you can get a money-saving subscription to this magazine simply by clicking HERE