Handbuilt History

In the early 1980's, Crispin Reed & Bruce West were making reproduction desks and leather sofas. They restored a vintage 1928 “Austin 12” van to use for local deliveries and became aware that it was great for publicity but it did not prove very reliable.

They stripped a Ford Transit and fitted a unique body shape, which was sign inspired by the 1929 Talbot and Model A Ford vans. The Asquith was born and this unique and reliable vehicle was perfect for their deliveries and achieved so much interest that they decided to develop the idea. The craftsmen who had previously been making reproduction furniture turned their skills to create bespoke driving seats and stylish wooden windows.

During the next 15 years, 'Asquith Motor Carriage Company Ltd' operated from a 25,000 sq.ft. factory on an industrial park at Great Yeldham, Essex, employing 30 craftsmen and producing around 100 vehicles per annum. The vehicles were sold across the UK and exported all over the world, mostly to Germany and Japan.

There were three core vehicles:
  1. 'Shire' - 3.5 ton delivery van and food serving vehicle.
  2. 'Mascot' - 3.5 ton bus with 8 seats.
  3. 'Shetland' - Small delivery vehicle built on a Reliant chassis.

The business continued to grow and in 1996, it floated on the London Stock Exchange (OFEX) which enabled the company to raise money and develop new products, including a vintage style taxi to be used in London.

As the company was expanding, it was hit by the consequences of the UK sterling crisis which caused a dramatic slow down in overseas orders and forced the company into liquidation in 1997.

Fast forward to 2019 and there is a new team developing a new version of the Asquith Shire (3.5 ton vehicle). This is built on a modern 'Iveco Daily' chassis and will be available to a small number of operators who appreciate a product that is useful, unique, beautiful and reliable.

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