Foden Trucks U.K.: Foden Trucks was a British truck and bus producing company, which origins in the 1856. In 1856 Edwin Foden 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 when he was 19 years old. Shortly afterwards Edwin Foden became a partner in the company.
In 1887, when George Hancock took retirement then 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.
Sandbach, Cheshire, U.K.
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.
Foden’s wagon was nevertheless regarded by most commentators as a clear winner, 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 under types were also produced, including the unsuccessful E-type and the O-type “Speed-6” and “Speed-12”, which was a much more modern vehicle. In the early 1930s Foden realised that the future was diesel, and changed their production almost immediately.
In 1931, their first diesel vehicle was introduced known as the Foden F1, and regarded as the “first commercially successful type of diesel lorry”. Post-war initially saw the reintroduction of the old models with few improvements. In 1946, Foden entered the bus chassis market. By 1950, they had developed a rear-engined model, predating Leyland’s Atlantean model by 7 years.
In 1948, completely new FE and FG lorry ranges were introduced, along with the new Foden FD6 two-stroke diesel engine. That 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.
Also, in 1958, the glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) was introduced and was 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 but was more popular by the “Mickey Mouse” nickname. Also, in 1956, the more traditional metal-and-wood S20 cab was introduced. The aforementioned GRP tilt cab, introduced in 1962, was designated S24. 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.
Collapse and Takeover
In the early 1970s, a massive new production facility was developed on a greenfield site, adjacent to the Foden works. The expenditure and the economic downturn of the period saw Foden run into financial difficulty in December 1974. It was given support by Harold Wilson’s Labour government. In 1980, after the period in receivership the company was acquired by the American firm PACCAR and is now a division of that company.
Foden specialised in highly customisable trucks, offering any paint, any drivetrain available, and even a split windscreen. In 1998, when PACCAR takes over the Leyland Trucks independent Foden production ceased, and was replaced by models of DAF Trucks rebadged as Fodens. These vehicles have had the option of either CAT, Detroit Diesel, or Cummins ISMe engines.
In 2005, PACCAR announced that the Foden production was likely to cease in 2006. So, 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. In July 2006. So, the Foden was produced, putting an end to 150 years of Foden truck manufacturing. Also, 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.