Historic Truck Brands


Edwin Foden Sons & Co  was formed in 1887, building on an established stationary steam engine business that had entered the stream traction market in 1880. By 1900 Foden had plenty of experience in producing steam traction engines, incorporating the compound design and so moved into three-ton steam lorry manufacture.


In a trial arranged by the War Office the Foden steam lorry proved its worth and began a series of trucks with over- and under-layout steam engines.

By 1930, Edwin Foden’s son, also Edwin, could see the advantages of internal combustion engines and, when he failed to convince the Foden Board, left to form ERF (his initials).

It didn’t take Foden & Sons to realise that E R Foden had been correct in his assessment of the future truck market and so the Foden brand adorned the front of the company’s first non-steam truck, in 1931. By 1934, Foden steam truck production ceased.

The 1935 Foden range consisted mainly of Gardner-powered 10- and 12-ton six-wheel trucks. In the following two years came a 15-ton eight-wheeler and a twin-steer six-wheeler.

The pre-War DG series served with the British Army after 1939.

After hostilities ceased Foden upgraded the DG to FG and produced single- and double-deck bus chassis. Foden also entered the off-road business, with a 12-ton, two-axle dumper.

In 1948 Foden introduced its own engine: a two-stroke, scavenge-supercharged 4.1-litre diesel that developed 126hp. This engine was available in trucks and buses.

The 1950s saw heavier-rated dumpers released and Gardner 8LW-powered heavy duty prime movers with up to 80 tons GCM ratings. Massive chassis and tandem drives made them great favourites of Northern Australian road-train operators, because although slow, they kept going, while more powerful ex-military American trucks just couldn’t handle the train weights.

Foden’s bus production ceased in 1956.

In 1958 Foden produced a prototype fibreglass (FRP) cab that went into production as the tilting S24, in 1962.

In the late-1960s transport regulations in the UK changed and the most favourable configuration became the 4×2 prime mover, hailing a semi-trailer. The Foden S60 steel cab and S70 FRP cab were introduced in 1970.

Incidentally, Foden must hold the record for the number of cab variations it produced during its 150-year production life. There were around 48 different cabs in the 1932-2006 period and even diehard Foden lovers are sometimes stumped in identifying cabs!

Foden’s early-1970s new plant was designed to produce 6000 trucks per annum and a 1973 NATO contract for two-, three- and four-axle Army trucks promised good revenue, but there were problems, including the need for a purpose-built FRP-over-steel cab. 

By 1974 Foden need help from the UK Government.

New models were announced in 1977: the 32-ton Haulmaster and Fleetmaster prime movers. The 38-ton-GCM Fleetmaster was aimed at export markets, with a choice of Cummins and Rolls Royce diesels.

Profitability improved briefly, but after a period in receivership, Foden was acquired by Paccar, in 1980.

Paccar used Foden’s undoubted abilities in customising to produce specialist vehicles, including some Kenworth C500 off-road trucks.

When Paccar acquired DAF in 1996 the writing was on the factory wall for Foden cab production and, after Paccar picked up Leyland-DAF in 1998, Foden trucks became rebadged DAFs, albeit with a choice of Caterpillar, Cummins or Detroit Diesel engines.

The last of these Foden-DAFs rolled off the production line in 2006.

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