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Forward Control


eddyramrod
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I've been thinking about this today, for no apparent reason, over three dog walks and a ride to Morecambe and back.  I've come up with no answers, so I thought I'd turn it over to the AS collective minds.

When I was a kiddie in the early 60s, vans were almost uniformly British.  One might see the occasional VW, but not many.  And with one exception until 1965, they were all a uniform layout.  Here's Ford's offering...

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And from Rootes...

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BMC even offered two sizes:

The J4...

7216285834_e6fd2290ba_b.jpg

...and J2...

Morris-Type-J2-Van-type-1956.jpg

And the sole foreigner:

40413304-e133-11e5-8422-a3e6a25d60bd.jpg

What do they all have in common?  The driver sits over the front wheels, a layout known as Forward Control.  I can only think of one van on the UK market that bucked this trend while competing with those above...

56392-0-medium.jpg?v=63717194937000

Yes, the good ole Bedford CA.  The only mainstream 15cwt van on the UK market at the time that had a snout.  The driver did not sit on top of the engine, the front wheels were not behind his centre line; in fact they were under his feet.

Since 1965 and the advent of the Transit, most new vans have (eventually) had a snout.  I can think of one notable exception: as everyone else followed their lead, Bedford abandoned their CF model in favour of the slightly smaller Midi, a rebadged Isuzu...

Pic15.jpg

Oh look, no snout!  It didn't last, of course.  Vauxhall vans (no longer allowed their illustrious name) became rebadged Renaults, all of which had/have a snout.

It seems now that every mainstream van on the UK market has a snout.  The front wheels are in front of the driver, under his feet.  The engine is most likely ahead of him, no longer under his seat.  The makes listed above have almost all gone, with Ford fighting a brave rearguard action using a Turkish-built snouted Transit; indeed all UK-market Transits have been snouted.

Can you think of a current mainstream-market van that can be bought on the UK market, that's Forward Control?  I can't.

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14 minutes ago, eddyramrod said:

Can you think of a current mainstream-market van that can be bought on the UK market, that's Forward Control?  I can't.

Short of the Nissan Cabstar (NVxxx?) and Isuzu equivalents of the cabover-type 3.5t minitrucks, I can't think of anything.

I expect for 4 main reasons:
1) Crash safety - a cab-forward van is going to be pretty much impossible to get through crash safety regulations, because if you hit something hard enough the fire service will be pressure washing your legs off the floor.
2) Comfort/NVH - having the engine between the driver and passenger reduces cab space, introduces noise and heat into the cabin, and would also (probably) mean you can make less use of parts-bin interior bits from your own car models. 
3) Maintenance - much easier to work on a vehicle that's got the engine hanging out the front, than to be working through an engine-cover inside the cab compartment.
4) Driving - a conventional layout just drives like a big car. A cab-forward is a weird thing to drive, because your steering inputs happen under/behind you. Suspension also can ride a bit funny, as you're hanging off the wrong side of it all.

I had a brand new Transit for a day the other week, and frankly, it was lovely. Can't imagine a forward-control van being anywhere near as pleasant.

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A good few years ago, the owner of the business where I buy appliance spares from used the Mazda forward control vans, always red as he had a fire appliance business he ran alongside. The last one he bought was a lightly used white one he had resprayed in red. He was told they'd stopped selling them new because the engine compartment now had to be separated from the passenger compartment by double metal skins. Next van he bought was a new VW T4, which I believe was a 04 reg, so before then. 

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You could ask a similar question about mainstream rear engine cars or bubble cars or 3 box saloons, 3 door estate cars or plain pick up trucks 

Falling sales, fashion and legislation dictate what is  practical to carry on with and what must be left to die off.

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Slightly tenuous Eddy but the current version  of the Piaggio Porter:

porter-van-02.thumb.png.a27fe87822a0789042f236be560cfa69.png

Is currently obtainable in the UK:

https://piaggiocommercialuk.com/range/porter-range/porter-van/

My employer has one in pickup flavour, though it's left hand drive and I can't actually confirm whether RHD is offered.

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Even the Toyota Hiace has a bonnet now, the Mk6, 2019 - model.

The very forward control Mk5 Hiace was never sold here, but I saw one here, just a few days ago, so grey imports are managing to get registered. They were THE van in Hong Kong when Iwas last there. They are very obviously ideal for that high density urban environment. The space efficiency of a shoebox and a very tight turning circle helped by short wheelbase and rear wheel drive. I’d like one!108942B9-97FD-463A-AE66-001DBD197ABB.thumb.jpeg.969c280e8218e13c0b5f3c09dfc21026.jpeg

What Toyota did sell here until 2015 or so was the Dyna, my kind of Japanese pickup. Very rare on British roads compared to the Nissan Cabstar.AD60EFF3-27B2-4A59-92F5-165FF83F44C4.thumb.jpeg.585c9e6f84340b033d6dcfa8219a7812.jpeg

 

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This low-quality set of crash videos  of ‘80s VW vans is quite interesting. The collision between an LT and an American car is a bit contrived with the chassis of the Yank ( what is it?) being below the floor of the LT and the structure of the trunk being very feeble. When the Mk3 Transporter was new VW made quite a thing of it’s crashworthiness. There was a lot of strong steel between bumper and front axle.

 

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These horrible bags of shit have a snout and the engine under the seats 

there are LDV and Nissan versions both are shit. My Dad has a Jap import Nissan version which I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s auto and 4wd and is still shit 

A16E0CC9-D10C-405C-B33B-FCBE1C8000E9.png

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29 minutes ago, Asimo said:

This low-quality set of crash videos  of ‘80s VW vans is quite interesting. The collision between an LT and an American car is a bit contrived with the chassis of the Yank ( what is it?) being below the floor of the LT and the structure of the trunk being very feeble. When the Mk3 Transporter was new VW made quite a thing of it’s crashworthiness. There was a lot of strong steel between bumper and front axle.

 

GM G body Chevy Monte Carlo,Buick regal etc.

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10 hours ago, Asimo said:

When the Mk3 Transporter was new VW made quite a thing of it’s crashworthiness. There was a lot of strong steel between bumper and front axle.

They didn't include this one for some reason...

(Actually a test of the concrete block, not the vehicle so high speed/ heavily loaded).

Engine access on the LT is pretty good actually, and you can work on it in the rain whilst staying dry! Opening the bonnet is a bit of a faff though; you have to fold the passenger seat out of the way and completely remove the driver's. 

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2 hours ago, FakeConcern said:

Not sure if these are still made or not...

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@High Jetterwill know!

Mine is an '08, some are early 2009. Euro regs were the problem, loads around in Italy last time I was there. DSFK have a poor rep, Piaggio not pushed here, the only dealer I know of is overpriced. They're just bloody useful!

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2 hours ago, Matty said:

Aside from what he said about modern transits being good. They're not. They're shite 😁

I might agree if I was paying to run one... But as a driver's vehicle I was very impressed, in typical Ford fashion. 

Caveat: I have not driven a Transporter, Sprinter, Master/Movano etc so have no frame of reference in the van world. 

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1 hour ago, goosey said:


These horrible bags of shit have a snout and the engine under the seats 

there are LDV and Nissan versions both are shit. My Dad has a Jap import Nissan version which I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s auto and 4wd and is still shit 

A16E0CC9-D10C-405C-B33B-FCBE1C8000E9.png

Incorrect, they are great. 

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1 hour ago, RichardK said:

Fuso/Canter/e-Canter

Didn't know you could still buy those here to be honest! That market segment must be tiny compared to what it once was. I rarely see Cabstars/Isuzus any more, and don't recall ever seeing a new-shape Canter.

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These horrible bags of shit have a snout and the engine under the seats 
there are LDV and Nissan versions both are shit. My Dad has a Jap import Nissan version which I can’t remember what it’s called but it’s auto and 4wd and is still shit 
A16E0CC9-D10C-405C-B33B-FCBE1C8000E9.thumb.png.128a5ab554f6d06a9eeff37051fb9697.png
I had a 1994 nissan serena people carrier which was basically one of these vans. It was a 1.6 petrol and took all types of abuse including towing a giant size elddis crusader superstorm twin axle caravan whilst loaded with me, wife, mother in law and 3 kids. I actually thought it was a great vehicle.

Sent from my SM-T585 using Tapatalk

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43 minutes ago, Split_Pin said:

The BMC/Leyland EA had a snout with the engine on its side under the floor, right underneath the seats.

 

bbb79f3d6a23a2990d7ea3bd07e5dd89.jpg

I can’t believe they still made those on a Y plate, they looked obsolete, by the time they would have been withdrawn in the late 80’s they must have looked like an antique. 

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