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The Commer Story by Geoff Carverhill

The Commer Story charts the evolution and history of one of Britain's principal commercial vehicle manufacturers. This fascinating book is not just the history of one vehicle marque, but the story of a company that endured several name changes, as it acquired and was acquired by several other companies, whilst creating some of the world's most innovative commercial vehicles over a continuous ninety-year manufacturing period. Truly a history of the company and its people, as well as its products, The Commer Story will be a very long-awaited addition to any enthusiast's bookshelf.

Geoff Carverhill has succeeded in unravelling one of the most complex lineages in the history of British motor manufacturing. The full story of how Commer came to be one of the most respected names in the commercial vehicle world is told from the very beginning in 1903, when the first prototype vehicle was assembled in a workshop in South London, to when the last vehicle rolled off the production line at the Dunstable assembly plant ninety years later.

The Commer Story takes in the acquisition in 1926 by Humber who were, in turn, taken over by Rootes two years later. Rootes subsequently acquired the Huddersfield-based Karrier Motors Ltd, which then became part of the Commer operation at Luton. Under the Rootes banner, Commer made a range of high-quality passenger vehicles and lorries while Karrier produced just about every kind of industrial and municipal vehicle, from refuse collectors to ambulances, as well as lorries, buses and trolleybuses.

Many of the people behind the development of the vehicles are profiled: managers, engineers and designers all tell their story to give a closer understanding of the company and its products. During their heyday in the fifties and sixties, Commer and Karrier produced a diverse range of vehicles at their new assembly plant in Dunstable: the PB and Walk-Thru vans, the Karrier Bantam and trucks featuring the revolutionary TS-3 two-stroke, three-cylinder diesel engine, designed and developed at the Tilling-Stevens factory at Maidstone, which had been acquired by Rootes in 1951. Yes, at long last there is a book that gives some details of what has been affectionately known as the "Commer Knocker". A three cylinder engine with 6 pistons, no valves, and 6 large rocking arms that connect the conrods to the crankshaft.

In 1967 Commer become part of the American Chrysler Corporation and in 1976 the Commer name was dropped, all vehicles then being badged Dodge. But Chrysler could not make money from the venture and sold out to Peugeot-Citroen, who in turn passed the company on to Renault. In March 1993, manufacture of commercial vehicles at Dunstable ceased, bringing ninety years of Commer history to an end.

This, the first full-length history of Commer, at last provides this famous firm with a well-deserved tribute. Well researched and lavishly illustrated, this book is a must for anyone interested in any aspect of British motor vehicle manufacturing.

Code No. 011476, 224 pages, ISBN 9781861264916, $80.00

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