Back to ERF
Truck & Driver|February 2021
This ERF EC11 Olympic was fully rebuilt from the ground up and has been working hard every night trunking for the last three years, with some low loader work too!
Dougie Rankin

Andrew Thorpe’s family business L.&K.R. Thorpe has a long history with ERF trucks, dating back to the firm being established in 1977. His grandfather Les retired from the police aged 45 on medical grounds. With his son Keith, (Andrew’s dad) who was fresh out of agricultural college, they started out with just one lorry. Les is now 92 years old and is still on the ball when it comes to all that’s going on in the Lincolnshire-based company!

The business developed with ventures into Middle East work. They also did a lot of European work for many years, when you were required to purchase a permit to do so. Germany and Czechoslovakia were popular destinations. Volvo F12s, Scania 111 and 141 and Foden 4000s were used. There UK side saw many big rigid trucks in the fleet, and at one point the fleet was entirely made up of ERF. Thorpe’s were one of few takers of the rare ERF M-series and surprisingly, there’s still one on the fleet today. Andrew completed university obtaining a degree in Genetic Engineering with a specialty in Virology (crikey!) to have something to fall back on, but having grown up around trucks his priority was getting out on the road.

The M-Series was designed to be a super-light truck; 16-tonnes gross with a 10-tonne payload. “The problem was, they cost about 25% more than a normal B-series but ended up weighing only 500kg less, so few hauliers thought the cost was justifiable,” explains Andrew. Aside from the higher cost they were very capable trucks, they retired the last one in 2007 and in 2012 Andrew wanted to find one to restore. As it turned out they ended up buying back one of their old trucks which had been converted to a horsebox, hardly used, and then stripped back to a chassis cab.

A complete restoration took over four months, with a curtain sider body sourced from a breakers and then fully refurbed. The truck was completed in 2012, and Andrew was so pleased with the results that he opted to put the then 33 year old truck back to work full time.

With an 11-litre Gardner 180 engine and David Brown six-speed box, the truck had covered 3 million km when it went back on the road and racked up another 500,000km before it was (mostly) retired again in 2017.

“I could sometimes do 3000km a week in it,” smiles Andrew, “and a lot of nights out. The Gardner is a big engine for a 16-tonner so it would sit at 60mph all day long and would drop to 50 on some of the hills but the old school torque would just slog it out. I could knock half a day off a run to Cornwall with it compared to the newer trucks.” The M-Series was eventually replaced with a Volvo FH500 dual-clutch 26-tonner due to a need for higher payloads, this truck featured in T&D back in 2016.

“It was an amazing time with the M-series, to deliver goods to places I had been as a child on summer holidays with my Dad, in the same truck” he tells us. “There were still times when I’d be working out if maybe I could use it for a day instead of the Volvo if the loads weren’t that heavy. My Dad would shake his head and say ‘you’ve got £120,000 worth of state-of-the art kit there and you’re taking that old ERF.”

Take it EC

Andrew had always fancied an ERF EC, having run an EC14 for a brief period and decided to look for one to restore when a new night trunking job came along. “I reckoned that there wasn’t any point in going for a brand new truck for the job, so I bought an EC that I thought would only need a good service and a quick tidy up. We had a MAN TGX on that job to begin with but it proved troublesome.”

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM TRUCK & DRIVERView All

A little bit tangy

Paul does another European trip, when the UK was still in the EU, but Covid had arrived too

6 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Back to ERF

This ERF EC11 Olympic was fully rebuilt from the ground up and has been working hard every night trunking for the last three years, with some low loader work too!

9 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Orange Blossom Special

Here’s the latest addition to a superb new livestock fleet from Wales, featuring Scania’s new 540 engine

9 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Feeding the nation

They may not be glamourous but they’re one of the biggest and most important sectors of our transport industry. So let’s shine the spotlight on some unsung heroes

6 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Secret Seven

Way down in the south east of Ireland, you’ll find a fleet with a whole lot of horsepower supplied by no less than seven Volvo FH16s!

9 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

TRUE BLUE

Owner-driver Dan Lote’s first new truck is a stunner – but then this all-blue Daf XF 530 had to be something special to replace his much-loved first truck

9 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Swede summer sun!

Stefan Bloeman and his friends took their old school Volvos on a tour of Europe last summer and he wrote to tell us all about it

4 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Staying A float

After a busy 2019 shifting boats all over Europe, Ashley Peden had his world turned upside down when coronavirus struck, but he got going again with a trip to Norway which ended with some wonderful news from home

10+ mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Sitting on the fence

Nick Oates and his family have built several successful businesses in the past decade within their KN Group, and his striking Renault Range T-High Low is the best advert for it – as well as paying tribute to his late wife

7 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021

Hit for Six!

Scania’s new 540hp six-pot is proving the perfect match for AAD Transport, who recently took in some of the first in Scotland. We spoke to boss Alan Davie about them

9 mins read
Truck & Driver
February 2021
RELATED STORIES

58 minutes with … Julia Galef

The tech elite’s favorite pop intellectual.

6 mins read
New York magazine
April 12-25, 2021

YOU: INTERFACE DEEPER INTEGRATION IS COMING, JUST FOR YOU

According to a new study from WhistleOut, the average consumer spends an eye-watering nine years of their lives looking at their smartphones, and that’s without mentioning the use of computers, televisions, and other devices that increasingly control our lives.

7 mins read
AppleMagazine
April 09, 2021

Asian Americans Are Ready for a Hero

After going from “model minority” to invisible minority to hunted minority, the community needs a new generation of cultural and political leaders

9 mins read
Bloomberg Businessweek
April 12, 2021

AUTOMAKERS BMW, VOLVO BACK MORATORIUM ON DEEP SEABED MINING

Automakers BMW and Volvo announced that they support a moratorium on deep seabed mining for minerals used in electric vehicle batteries and other products.

2 mins read
AppleMagazine
AppleMagazine #492

Judge hires all-important offensive line coach

After interviewing a few candidates, Joe Judge hired Rob Sale to coach his offensive line. Sale previously worked with Judge during their time together at Alabama under Nick Saban.

4 mins read
The Giant Insider
April 2021

Here's Why Bill Gates (Still) Prefers Android to iPhone

When it comes to the great iOS-versus-Android debate, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates knows which side he’s on.

1 min read
PC Magazine
April 2021

SHARING IS CARING

Central Florida Health Care Explains the Importance of the Health Information Exchange

3 mins read
Central Florida Health News
April 2021

The City Politic: David Freedlander

Yang vs. Everybody With three months to go, Andrew Yang is still, improbably, looking like New York’s next mayor.

6 mins read
New York magazine
March 29 - April 11, 2021

SINGULAR INSIGHTS

Global marketing powerhouse OneMagnify leverages talent and technology to help their clients prosper. CIO Andy Frey reveals what it takes to deliver marketing’s many promises in the digital age.

4 mins read
The BOSS Magazine
February 2021

CAN EMAIL BE BETTER?

Email is useful but often unmanageable, which is why a new slate of apps are offering to help. We test the buzziest of them: Superhuman.

2 mins read
Entrepreneur
Startups Spring 2021