Historic Truck Brands
Foster & Seddon reconditioned vehicles and ran a bus service in Lancashire. The company also held an agency for Morris Motors vehicles. In 1937 Robert Seddon spotted a gap in the commercial vehicle market for low-tare diesel-engined lorries and designed a suitable vehicle that would use proprietary components.
The initial machine was a six-ton GVM, COE truck, with a six-cylinder Perkins, indirect-injection, diesel engine and was first shown at the Scottish Motor Show in 1938. Since it weighed under 2.5 tons unladen, the ‘Seddon’ was allowed to travel at 30mph (48 km/h), unlike most other trucks that could carry a comparable payload.
Like Maudslay and ERF, Seddon was allowed to continue producing commercial vehicle chassis for sale during World War Two, when more-established makers had all of their productive capacity diverted to the War effort.
In 1948, Seddon Motors Ltd moved to a new factory in Oldham and expanded production from one or two a week to10 or more.
Seddon’s first passenger chassis was the Mark IV. Seddon also built its own coachwork for these models, mainly for export.
Roman numbers were adopted when the firm became Seddon Diesel Vehicles Ltd in 1950 and the Mark 7P short-wheelbase bus chassis, with four-cylinder Perkins engine, fitted up to 28 seats within a 21ft overall length.
At the 1952 Commercial Motor Show Seddon Marks 10 and 11 featured vertical Perkins 80hp or 107hp) engines mounted underfloor, while competing underfloor-engined buses used horizontally-oriented engines. These Seddons were not successful.
The mid 1950s Mark 16 was a 21ft bus with a Perkins four in the front overhang and the Mark 17 had a six-cylinder-engine.
The Mark 18 of the late 1950s sold mainly in Australia and New Zealand, with local coachwork. It had a vertically-mounted Perkins P6 80hp engine in the rear overhang.
From 1966, with Mark numbers climbing into the high twenties, Seddon decided to simplify its nomenclature, so trucks were identified as, for example, ’16–4’, where the first number was GVM and the second the number of wheels. Bus chassis were then known as Seddon Pennine Mark (x).
Seddon UK bus business slumped from the middle 1950s, but the 1967 Pennine Mark 4 became a strong seller worldwide. In 1969, a more concerted effort at the UK bus market resulted in the launch of the Pennine RU.
In 1970, Seddon took over Atkinson Lorries to form Seddon Atkinson and both companies continued to produce their own truck models in their own factories.
Then in 1974, US-based International Harvester bought Seddon Atkinson.
In 1975, a new unified range was presented with steel tilt cabs designed by Ogle and Motor Panels. The first trucks were the 400 Series, followed by the Seddon-based 200 Series in 1976 and then the three-axle rigid 300 Series.
The Atkinson works manufactured the heavier 400 Series and Seddon’s Oldham plant built all three lines.
The 200 had a lower profile and narrower cab than do the other two and the cabin of the 400 was mounted higher up than on the 300, necessitating a bigger front bumper with integrated headlights and different wheel wells.
The 200 became the first ‘Truck of the Year’, in 1977.
The 200 and 300 used International diesel engines, with the 200 powered by a 135hp (101kW) International engine and the 300 having a 7.64-litre (466 cu in) in line six with 194hp (145kW). The larger 400 was available with a choice of diesels from Cummins, Gardner and Rolls-Royce, with power outputs up to 320hp (239kW).
The last trucks with the Seddon Atkinson name were built in Oldham in 2004. Bus and coach production having ceased in 1983 when the last Pennine 7 models were delivered.
In 1981 the Seddon-Atkinson range was updated and became 201, 301 and 401.
The 401 received an improved interior, a changed grille, and a much improved gear linkage. The Motor Panels trucks had severe rust problems, forcing the introduction of a new anti-corrosion package in the mid-eighties.
The 1980s recession finished off many of Seddon Atkinson’s truck customers and, in 1984, International Harvester sold Seddon Atkinson to Enasa of Spain. Sales of Seddon Atkinsons dwindled through the 1980s, with the 400 and 401 Series being the subject of serious cab-rusting complaints.
In 1985 Seddon Atkinson held only about five percent of the British truck market.
In the summer of 1986 the lineup received yet another overhaul, starting with the 16-ton GVM 201 that became the 2-11. A 3-11 followed in October 1986 and there was also a short lived 4-11, identifiable by deflectors on the front corners.
New engines and various other improvements under the shell were matched by updated, more aerodynamic designs by Ogle. These trucks were intended to have a more premium feel, with more powerful engines, in line with market trends.
In 1988 the Strato range was launched, replacing the 401, using Seddon-Atkinson’s chassis under a more modern DAF 95-based Pegaso cab from parent company Enasa.
In 1991 Iveco took over Enasa and acquired Seddon Atkinson as part of the deal. The Strato 2 subsequently used the Iveco Eurotech cabin.
In 2005 production was moved to Iveco’s Spanish facilities, but sales were low and in late 2006 it was announced that production of Seddon-Atkinsons would end. In December 2009, it was all over for the Seddon Atkinson brand.