ERF 44G Restored
Classic & Vintage Commercials|March 2017

Peter Simpson tells the story of a 1954 ERF which, though preserved in the early 1980s, then fell on hard times. Now though, it’s back in fine fettle thanks to an extremely impressive home restoration.

People often assume that once a vehicle is owned ‘in preservation’ and has perhaps appeared at a few rallies, its long-term future is secure. That, though, is by no means guaranteed – preservation is an ongoing process – and Andrew Moulding’s 1954 ERF 44G dropside is a classic example of a lorry which, though once ‘preserved’ subsequently fell on hard times and was very nearly lost as a consequence.

Andrew bought the lorry in 2007. At this point it was rough – very rough in fact – having been out of use and stored in the open for many years. More significantly, it was incomplete mechanically. However, the ERF’s cab contained rather unexpected evidence of a ‘past life in preservation’ in the form of several rally plaques from the mid-1980s. Inspired by this, Andrew entered the registration number online, and this bought up a photo of the lorry on display at a show in Essex in 1983. It looked pretty good then, too. The caption suggests that it was in commercial use until 1981 and passed straight to preservation from that.

It was far from good, though, 24 years after that appearance at North Weald. Specifically, the cab’s wooden frame was rotted out in several places – though thanks to the combination of glass-fibre lower panels and roof and aluminium panels in between it actually looked marginally better than it was. The dropside body had all-but vanished, with only the metal frame base and side sections plus a few bits of rotten wood remaining. On the mechanical side the engine was missing its entire top end – the cylinder heads and associated gear were all missing.

The lorry was in the yard of a good friend of Andrew’s, John Gowler – whose collection of older restored lorries (some in the colours of Turves Turf, the family business) are a familiar sight at events in East Anglia and further afield. In Andrew’s words “the Moulding and Gowler families have been friends for many years” and though Andrew has never himself worked in haulage, his late father Richard did drive at one time; he drove an Atkinson from Cambridgeshire to the London produce markets.

Andrew has a passion for old vehicles of all kinds, and it was therefore natural that through his friendship with the family, he would become one of the ‘nominated drivers’ of the Gowler lorries. He also readily acknowledges and appreciates the help he has had from John and his son Jamie – both at a practical level and with advice. Andrew is, by profession a carpenter – a skill which, as we’ll see in a moment, was to come in very handy indeed on this project.

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