ERF Trucks

ERF (truck manufacturer)

Sandbach, Cheshire, England 1933 – 2007

Industry Automotive
Fate Bought/Closed
Successor MAN AG
Founded 1933
Founder Edwin Richard Foden
Defunct 2007
Headquarters Sandbach, Cheshire, England
Products Trucks
Parent MAN AG

Edwin Richard Foden was a British truck manufacturer. Established in 1933 by Dennis Foden, 1932 Edwin Richard Foden retired from Foden.

1933 The new company used the same Jennings cabs and Gardner engines as Fodens had done.

1933 The first ERF vehicle was a 6 ton type C14 which remained in production until 1946.

WWII Production of military lorries, mostly for the Royal Army Service Corps, with some vehicles for essential civilian users.

1950 Edwin died

1951 Used steel cabs by Willenhall Motor Radiator Co

1952 The oval radiator grill was introduced

1961 The LV cab was introduced. The company employed 315 persons.

1961 Manufacturers of commercial motor vehicles. 315 employees.

1967 Fire appliances were produced, a situation which continued for ten years until taken over by Jennings

1970 Changes to the A range

1973 Developed the SP cab for vehicles up to 42ton gvw

1974 The B range introduced

1996 Company bought by Western Star of Canada

After a period of recuperation he returned to the development of a diesel lorry on his own account. With the collaboration of his son Dennis, William’s son Ted, and several key figures dismissed by Fodens, Edwin went on to establish a rival concern, which became ERF Ltdits factory in Sandbach, Cheshire was closed in 2002, and it was discontinued as a marque by owner MAN AG in 2007.


In 1881 the first Foden traction engine was built in Sandbach, Cheshire. Then in 1898 Edwin Richard Foden influenced future truck design by designing the first steam wagon running on steel tyre wheels which had been successful until 1913 when vulcanised solid rubber tyre development had advanced to the stage of allowing their fitment on heavy vehicles. Edwin introduced the first pneumatic-tyred Foden steam wagon, but as steam transport appeared to be going out of favour, Edwin turned his attention to the development of a 6-8 ton chassis fitted with new Gardner LW (Light Weight) high speed oil-engine.

At the beginning of the 1930s, Britain’s industry was struggling to survive the worst recession in living memory and unemployment exceeded two million. At this time insurers were becoming increasingly reluctant to underwrite steam boilers. As a result, Edwin believed the future of the lorry building industry lay in Diesel engine power. The Foden boardroom did not agree, and consequently he resigned along with his son Dennis.

With the help of his son Dennis and two former colleagues, including Ernest Sherratt who became Chief Engineer, Edwin worked to build the first ERF diesel lorry in 1933 and gave the first chassis the number 63 which was Edwin’s age. Fromm the beginning the company only bought in the best components available, including engines from Gardner, gearboxes from David Brown and axles from Kirkstall Forge, rather than making everything in house. This concept would serve ERF well throughout its existence. A new and striking cab was styled by Sandbach coachbuilder John Henry Jennings, who also provided initial factory space to assemble the new lorry. Based in Sandbach, Cheshire, the company made their own chassis and cabs, originally with engines from Gardner, but later also Cummins, Perkins, Detroit Diesel and Caterpillar Inc..

ERFs used to be marketed under the Western Star badge in some countries such as Australia. It also built a specialist fire engine chassis, with a body built on by in-house company JH Jennings, later Cheshire Fire Engineering. However, when recession came in the early 1980s and production fell from a total output of 4,000 chassis per annum, CFE was sold to management to eventually become Saxon Sanbec.

ERF was never a major manufacturer; as an example their domestic sales total only reached 1,083 trucks in 1981. The company was bought by Canadian truck maker Western Star in 1996. However, after PACCAR‘s purchase of Foden, DAF Trucks and Leyland Trucks increased competitive pressure, and Western Star was approached by Freightliner Trucks corporation, the decision was made to sell ERF.

Purchase by MAN

In 2000, ERF became part of MAN AG. Freightliner tried to sue Western Star and ERF’s former auditors, but failed on the grounds of corporate negligence.

Final model range

ERF’s final model range consisted of the ECT, ECM and ECL built on MAN’s production line in Munich (for heavy trucks), and a plant in Sandbach for light trucks – positioned to win a contract from the Ministry of Defence for 8,000 new British Armed Forces trucks.

All the ERF trucks were based on MAN’s existing products, the only difference being that the ERF model came with the option of specifying use of Cummins ISMe power plant as an alternate to MAN’s own D20 common rail power-plant. The Sandbach factory was closed by MAN in 2002, with production of the ECT moved to Munich, Germany, ECM and ECL units moved to Steyr, Austria where they are built on the same facilities as their identical MAN counterparts.

In the light of Cummins’ intransigence on upgrading the ISMe engine to comply with the Euro4 emission regulations, MAN initially decided to replace it completely with the new series of MAN D20 engines. With ERF badging only used for the British market, MAN decided to cease the supply of ERF badged trucks from July 2007.

In popular culture

  • On the BBC motoring programme Top Gear, the presenters are challenged to buy lorries and presenter Richard Hammond buys an ERF from Walker Movements Limited in Leicester. He pronounces the name phonetically. In response to a quip about its diminutive size, Hammond responds by calling it ‘the Caterham of lorries’ as it has an engine that could match Jeremy Clarkson‘s 12 litres (732.3 cu in) Renault Magnum, but as light and as small as James May‘s Scania P94D. It was also the fastest among the three; it has a top speed that exceeds 90 miles per hour (145 km/h).



  • Dai Davies, ERF: The Inside Story, 2009, 160p. 300 col. & b/w ill. h/b.
  • Peter Foden, 60 Years On: The Story of ERF, A British Commercial Vehicle Manufacturer, 1995, ISBN 0952213605, ISBN 978-0952213604, 96 pages

List of Models

1933-erf-c14-mj-2711-no-1-of-1933 1933-erf-ci4-1 1933-erf-ci4-1 1936-erf-ci4-1936-erf-with-a-gardner-4lw-engineC14 (1933- )erf-v-type erf-model-v-01-1 erf-v-type-44g-north-british-rubber-rha165

1949-03cv-erfModel V (1948- )1960-erf-kv546-reg-no-999-nvt 1957-erf-kv-ballast-tractor-reg-no-yyc-430 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437-side 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437-front 1956-erf-kv-reg-no-kjt-437 erf-kv-was-taken-in-the-yard-at-welwyn erf-kv-templemore-1991-youngs-in-templemore-co-tipperary-h erf-kv-54g-851ahr-a-nice-little-kv-unit-we-rescued-from erf-kv-this-kv-has-had-work-done-on-the-cab-but-i-dont-th 1992-erf-kv-merv-wines-sale-1992-bison-2 erf-kv-ici-buxton-limeworks-z erf-kv-coates-cider-ketton-cement-ahb 1963-erf-68g-kv-a-great-restoration-of-an-early-1960s-24-ton-g 1968-erf-68g-older-kv-cabbed-model-i-last-saw-it-at-oulton-par 1960-erf-64g-kv-a-gardner-6lw-120-bhp-engine-powers-this-erf erf-5-4-a-rare-type-with-a-kv4-cab 1968-erf-68g-kv-_-this-erf-was-about-to-go-out-of-service-with-th 1965-erf-56gts-kv-_-an-early-lv-cabbed-erf 1962-erf-kv-64gx-edward-beck-son-ltd-z-w 1959-erf-kv-66tsg-g-plant-macclesfield-253pma 1962-erf-64gx-kv-richard-read-transport-ltd-1737df erf-66r-kv-dan-taylor-benningfield-ltd-durban-sa erf-kv-ici-buxton-limeworks erf-66r-kv-bell-bros-pty-ltd-ubb601 erf-kv-66gsf-sabrina-park-gate-iron-rotherham-4874wu erf-kv-88r-thomas-hedley-co-ltd-newcastle-tanker-3136wy-by-e-r-f 1944-erf-kv-removal-van-registered-hgc-695 1961-erf-kv-54-g 1960-erf-kv-8-wheeler-flat 1957-erf-kv-ballast-tractor-8-6 1956-erf-kv-tractor-unit-100hp 1964-erf-kv-jss-246b-rj-strang 1962-erf-kv

ERF KV 6LX 1966 - grille
ERF KV 6LX 1966 – grille

KV range (1954- )1971-erf-lv-reg-no-abw-896j 1971-erf-lv-tractor-reg-no-wjg-948j 1964-erf-lv-8-wheeler-reg-no-bom-948c erf-vgv337k-erf-lv-series-unit-2x1-ojh-smith-sons-lt jfl26d-chassie-no-12415-erf-lv-recabbed-with-a-b erf-66g-lv-probably-the-oldest-shomans-lorry-at-kirkcaldy erf-lv-swj886l-taken-at-cellar-clough-mills erf-lv-recovery-seen-at-an-essex-steam-rally-many-years-ag erf-lv-heavy-duty-well-thats-what-the-drivers-thought erf-lv-6x4-units-south-african-built erf-lv-6x4-articulated-bus-yes-bus-south-african 1968-erf-68g-lv-the-twin-of-the-previous-erf 1967-erf-68g-lv-a-very-tidy-showmans-van 1968-erf-68g-lv-cab-with-an-a-series-front-at-oulton-park-in-1 1966-erf-66g-lv-in-later-times-sported-a-1960s-square-style-me 1968-erf-54g-lv-and-g-rhodes-foden-fleetmaster-5419ru-and-rov 1967-erf-54g-lv-seen-in-its-last-days-having-been-put-off-the 1960-erf-54g-lv-on-the-fairs-about-25-years-ago-and-now-set-as 1962-erf-54g-lv-a-farm-lorry-that-was-still-working-in-the-late erf-54g-lv-a-fairly-rudimentary-recovery-wagon-with-a-gard erf-44lkg-not-many-of-the-small-56-ton-erfs-had-the-lv-ca erf-broken-lv-cummins-200 1965-erf-lv-66gx-scottish-newcasle-breweries-ebb217c 1965-erf-lv-64gx-whiteways-cider-duo547c 1965-erf-lv-64gx-r-goodall-duo546c 1965-erf-56gts-kv-_-an-early-lv-cabbed-erf 1964-erf-lv-long-door-ljl-cab-on-the-woolwich-ferry 1964-erf-lv-long-door-lv-jl-cab-on-the-woolwich-ferry 1964-erf-lv-66gx-6x4-heavy-haulage-tractor-unit 1963-erf-lv-44g-coates-cider-592xyb 1963-erf-lv-j-woolley-transport-ltd-230djw 1963-erf-64gx-lv-boalloy-long-door-edward-beck-son lvpygk8mpfsd2ml0a1h5 1963-erf-64gx-lv-boalloy-long-door-edward-beck-son-l 1963-erf-54g-lv-long-door-230djw-this-is-a-very-early 1963-1964-erf-lv-64gx-tractor-units-edward-beck-son 1963-erf-lv-66p-boalloy-long-door-sisk-ireland-nze524 1963-erf-54g-lv-jh-jennings-long-door-goodwin-kirk-sons-ltd-5081tu 1975-erf-lv8-livestock-transporter-engine-10450cc-gardner-diesel-registered-hcd 1972-erf-lv-flat-bed-180bhp 1972-erf-lv-flat-bed-180hp 1969-erf-lv 1963-erf-lv


LV range (1962- )1975-erf-a-series-reg-no-glg-139n 1974-erf-a-series-reg-no-gao-399n 1973-erf-a-series-reg-no-jjn-226l 1972-erf-a-series-reg-no-gbt-309l 1972-erf-a-series-reg-no-wtl-160k 1968-erf-a-series-reg-no-mdc-255g-a 1968-erf-a-series-reg-no-mdc-255g erf-64g-a-well-known-scottish-preserved-lorry erf-m16-a-lightweight-16-tonner-in-the-erf-range-in-the-ea erf-a-series-up-from-weston-super-mare-for-the-2011-ayrshi 1969-erf-a-series-more-usual-artic-version-of-the-a-series-wit 1968-erf-68g-lv-cab-with-an-a-series-front-at-oulton-park-in-1 1971-erf-a-series-dju-874kA Series (1972- )1979-erf-b-series-reg-no-cbu-915t 1979-erf-b-series-reg-no-gjf-530v 1975-erf-b-series-reg-no-kyb-926n 1996-erf-b-series-first-registered-in-1996 1978-erf-b-series-a-versatile-lorry-than-can-also-be-used-as-a 1980-erf-b-series-eagle-diesel


B Series (1974- )

1980-erf-c-series-streched-tractor-unit-cummins-250 1982-erf-c-series-not-as-erf-had-intended-i-think-note-the-li 1986-erf-c-series-gardner-230-turboC Series1982-erf-d-series-reg-no-xnw-290xD Series1996-e-series-reg-no-p680-ytt

1988-e-series-reg-no-f521-mbl 1987-e-series-reg-no-e733-scl-front 1987-e-series-reg-no-d111-cvt 1987-e-series-10-litre-reg-no-e733-scl j-barretts-erf-e-series-e414uhs-pennine-eagleE Series

See Also

Buses and more FODEN Sandbach, Cheshire, England Part I till 1950

FODEN Trucks and Buses Sandbach, Cheshire, England Part I till 1950

Edwin Foden, Sons & Co.


Foden logo

002 Edwin_Foden_1841-1911

Edwin Foden (1841-1911) who lends his name to Foden’s Motor Works Band too

Foden Trucks was a British truck and bus manufacturing company which has its origins in Sandbach, Cheshire in 1856. PACCAR acquired the company in 1980, and ceased to use the marque name in 2006.


003 Foden_5_ton_steam_lorry_registration_WX_2682

1930 Foden steam lorry

004 Foden_1959_S20_dropside_lorry_reg_LSU_891

1959 Foden S20 dropside

005 Foden_heavy_truck_unit_with_Gardner_150_engine

Foden S21 tractor unit – DAX6/32 6×2 Twin Steer Tractive Unit, JDN 672E

006 Foden_S36_flatbed_(1967)_reg_LTO_766E

1967 Foden S36 flatbed

In 1856 Edwin Foden (1841–1911) became apprenticed to the agricultural equipment manufacturing company of Plant & Hancock. He left the company for an apprenticeship at Crewe Railway Works but returned to Plant & Hancock at the age of 19. Shortly afterwards he became a partner in the company. On the retirement of George Hancock in 1887 the company was renamed Edwin Foden Sons & Co. Ltd. The company produced massive industrial engines, as well as small stationary steam engines and, from 1880, agricultural traction engines.

Experimental steam lorries were first produced shortly after the turn of the 20th century. In 1878, the legislation affecting agricultural use was eased and as a result, Foden produced a successful range of agricultural traction engines. The perfecting of the compound traction engine in 1887 gave a significant marketing advantage and later proved invaluable to the development of the steam lorry.

In 1896 the restrictions affecting road transport were eased, which permitted vehicles under 3 tons to travel at up to 12 mph (19 km/h) without a red flag. The time was right and Foden produced a series of four prototype wagons. The experience gained from this, enabled Foden to build a 3 ton wagon for the War Office 1901 self-propelled lorry trial.

This design was consistently faster and more economical over the arduous road trials but was placed second overall as it was claimed that the Thornycroft entry had better off-road performance. Foden’s wagon was nevertheless regarded by most commentators as a clear winner (the result was questioned in Parliament by Crewe’s MP. This model was the basis for a highly successful line of vehicles which were produced over the next 30 years. The great majority of Foden steam lorries were overtype, but undertypes were also produced, including the unsuccessful E-type and the O-type “Speed-6″ and “Speed-12″, which was a much more modern vehicle.

By 1930 Edwin’s son, Edwin Richard, (1870–1950) (known to everyone as simply E.R.) could see the future lay in diesel power. In late 1932 he resigned from the Board of Directors, following several years of bitter wranglings, and subsequently retired; he was 62 and ready for retirement, having spent his entire working life at Foden’s. His son Dennis could not afford to resign, but was not prepared to let things ride; however, with financial input from across the immediate family a new company was set up to design and produce diesel lorries. George Faulkener, related to Dennis by marriage, became Works Manager and Ernest Sherratt, both ex-Foden employees, helped to design a new diesel wagon. Edwin Richard Foden was persuaded to come out of retirement and head the new company which became known as ERF.

In 1932, however, Foden finally realised that the future was diesel, and changed their production almost immediately,  though the production of steam vehicles continued in diminishing numbers until 1934.

Post-war initially saw the re-introduction of the old models with few improvements, though Foden entered the bus chassis market in 1946 (a number of prototypes, including a double-decker had been built in the 1930s) by 1950 they had developed a rear-engined model, predating Leyland’s Atlantean model by 7 years. Although the Foden PVR was a high-framed single decker, the cruciform chassis bracing Foden used made an underfloor engine location as in the competitive AEC Regal IV, Leyland Royal Tiger or Daimler Freeline a non-starter. The completely new FE and FG lorry ranges were introduced in 1948, along with the new Foden FD6 two-stroke diesel engine, which became the standard engine for certain Foden heavy lorry models, such as the S18 FE6/15 Rigid Eight-Wheeler – the optional Gardner 6LW-engined version was the S18 FG6/15. (The S18 designation refers to the new cab that was produced for the new range.) The FD6 two-stroke engine, along with Gardner engines, was also fitted in Foden motorcoaches and buses. Only one Foden PVD double decker had the Foden Engine but it was popular in the PVS and PVR single-deckers, especially in coaching applications because it was a much higher revving than the Gardner 5LW or 6LW. Bus and coach production ceased in 1956 but the last chassis only left the works in 1959 when it was registered 367CKA and received an early Plaxton Panorama body.

1958 saw the introduction of lightweight glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) used in cab production and this led to the manufacture of the first British-built, mass-produced tilting cab in 1962. The first Foden GRP cab was the distinctively-styled S21 model. The S21 was initially nicknamed both “Spaceship” and “Sputnik” by the commercial vehicle press, although it was briefly known as the “Sabrina” in the early 1960s, while other people gave it the “Mickey Mouse” nickname. The more traditional metal-and-wood S20 cab, introduced in 1956, was still fitted to many Foden lorries until at least 1963, after which it was just fitted to special vehicles until 1968. The aforementioned GRP tilt cab, introduced in 1962, was designated S24 – the Sabrina nickname returned, because the S24 and the later versions S34, S36 and S39 are all collectively known as “Sabrina”, and this time the name has stuck:-

S21 Cab production continued until 1969.

007 Foden-familyFamily Foden

The Foden Family, outside the Elworth factory, c.1961. From L to R. (1) James Edwin Foden, son of William Foden. (2) William Foden, son of the founder Edwin Foden. (3) Reginal Gordon Foden, son of William Foden. (4) David Colville Foden, son of James Edwin Foden. (5) Hugh Foden, son of David Colville Foden. The vehicle is the “Pride of Edwin” a 5 ton Compound engined that now held by the The Science Museum intheir Wroughton store.

In 1964, a change in the Construction & Use Regulations favoured articulated vehicles over the older rigid designs and a new model was introduced to compete in the 32 ton market. More than 75% of heavy chassis sold in Britain in the following years were tractor units.

A massive new production facility was developed in the early 1970s on a green field site, adjacent to the Foden works. A combination of this expenditure and the economic downturn of the period saw Foden’s run into financial difficulty in December 1974. It was given support by Harold Wilson’s Labour government. Foden’s struggled as its home market continued to be depressed. It was 1977–78 before Foden returned to reasonable profitability. Large MOD contracts to supply military vehicles helped with this recovery.

After a period in receivership in 1980 the company was acquired by the American firm PACCAR, and is now a division of that company. After the takeover of Leyland Trucks by PACCAR in 1998, independent Foden production ceased, and was replaced by models of DAF Trucks rebadged as Fodens (DAF Trucks having been acquired by PACCAR in 1996). These vehicles have had the option of either CATDetroit Diesel, or Cummins ISMe engines.

Marque retirement

008 Foden_Alpha_3000_2004

2004 Foden Alpha 3000

In 2005, it was announced by PACCAR that Foden production was likely to cease in 2006. The reason given was that Foden production would be terminated to release manufacturing capacity at Leyland Trucks to allow for increased volume of DAF brand trucks.

The last Foden was produced in July 2006, putting an end to 150 years of Foden truck manufacturing. The final vehicle to roll off the production line at the factory in Leyland was an 8×4 rigid, which was delivered to the nearby British Commercial Vehicle Museum.


1917 foden-6-nhp-9-ton


1914 foden-wagon-4-nhp-5-ton


1918 FODEN 1


1918 FODEN


1918 Foden 5t steam dump truck


1918 foden-7-nhp-10-ton


1918 foden-steam-bus-4-nhp-4-ton




1919 foden-7-nhp-10-ton


1921 foden-wagon-5-ton


1926 foden-6-nhp-9-ton


1926 foden-wagon-5-ton


1926 foden-wagon-4-nhp-5-ton


1927 Foden Steam Lorry


1927 foden-wagon-5-ton


1928 Foden Steam Car


1928 Foden’s Steamtruck

Foden 4nhp 6-ton C-type Wagon

1929 foden-tractor-4-nhp-6-ton


1929 foden-wagon-5-ton


1929 foden-wagon-5-ton


1930 Foden A20 Steam truck Australië


1931 Foden’s Steamtrucks


1931 foden-tractor-4-nhp-6-ton




1934 Foden DG Dropside Recovery Truck Engine Gardner Diesel Registration 773 BRE


1938 Foden DGS-7 Flatbed Engine Gardner Diesel Registration CED 198


1941 Foden DG6-12, 6×6


1944 Foden Jan


1944 Foden


1945 FODEN


1945 foden-dg


1946 Foden DG Granit Truck


1946 FODEN DG © Dave Strickland


1946 foden mobile crane


1946 Foden Removal truck


1946 Foden Timber Tractor Powered by a Gardner Diesel Registration HGP 730


1946 foden-dg


1946 foden-dg


1946 foden-dg

1946 Foden DG6/S20 Recovery Truck

1946 foden-dg


1946 foden-dg




1946 foden-dg


1946 foden-dg


1946 foden-f1-diesel-flat-bed

Foden F1 diesel lorry, 1931

1946 foden-f1-diesel-flat-bed


1946 Foden’s


1946 foden-stg


1946 foden-s-type


1947 foden-morgan Len Rogers Collection


1947 foden-s-type Ian Hardy


1949 Foden


1950 Trucks


Till here the Trucks from Foden till 1950


Time for the Buses


1918 Foden Steam bus 1


1918 FODEN


1918 Foden-steam-bus


1918 foden-steam-bus-4-nhp-4-ton


1922 foden-steam-bus-4-nhp-4-ton


1930 Foden Buses COBHAM


1934 Foden Wheildons Uttoxeter


1946 Foden PSVs


1946 foden-pvsc


1947 Foden bus advert


1947 Foden bus advert


1947 Foden bus MTU296


1947 Foden Bus


1948 Foden


1948 Foden PVD6 Claire Pendrous


1948 FODEN


1949 burlingham foden coach AWG590


1949 burlingham foden coach cooke’s MPL499


1949 Foden Coach LMA284


1949 Foden dd OED217


1949 Foden PSV LMA284


1949 Foden Coach Hotel


1949 Foden coach, Lytham Hall, 160


1949 Foden Philips fdm724 bus


1949 Foden Sandbach MTU296


1949 Ledgard Foden MUA866


1950 Foden coach with Wadham Bros. coachwork, registration number KMB 95


The end off part I

Filed Under: AECBurlinghamCATCumminsDAFDetroit DieselEnglandERFFODEN,LeylandPACCARThornycroftWadham Bros

Buses ERF England

Buses ERF England


founded bij FODEN

First they made Trucks and Buses were never their first business.

Erf doesn’t exist anymore. In 1996 Western Star bought them, and MAN followed in 2000.

Now they make only trucks with MAN & Cummins Motors.

1977 Erf or Foden mt17825 george sh827

1977 Erf or Foden

1984 sats Erf mt70040 mlmsbury sl

1984 sats Erf 2004 Erf sd dbn cd

2004 Erf

African ERF 20

African ERF 20

African ERF 23

African ERF 23

Bussen ERF E10 Trailblazer ACY 981. Chassis No.75903

Bussen ERF E10 Trailblazer ACY 981. Chassis

Bussen ERF E10 Trailblazer ACY-985. Chassis No. 81190

Bussen ERF E10 Trailblazer. LCY-948. Chassis

Bussen ERF Trailblazer the fuel fighter

ERF Trailblazer the fuel fighter

erf 3074

Erf 3074



ERF images

ERF images

ERF plp198t

ERF plp198t



That was it already. Nothing Beautiful or Old available.

Filed Under: BUSESCumminsEnglandERFFODENMANUKWestern Star