In the bustling world of mechanics and HGV drivers, there are some individuals whose impact goes far beyond their job title. Recently, we bid farewell to one such legend, whose service to the industry is etched in history books, and whose passion for vintage trucks has left us all in awe.
Meet Alan Lusted – a name that echoes through the highways and byways of the industry in this part of the world. His journey began as a DAFaid Breakdown mechanic, out on the road, ensuring that stranded vehicles found their way back to safety. For many years, he was the hero behind the scenes, rescuing countless drivers from their roadside woes.
But that’s not all there is to this extraordinary man. Step into the workshop, and you’d find him there too, donning the mechanic’s overalls with pride. Even in recent times, up until earlier this year, Alan continued to contribute to the team as a part-time HGV driver. His dedication and work ethic were second to none, earning him the respect and admiration of all who crossed paths with him.
What sets Alan apart, though, is his passion beyond the workshop and the road. In his personal time, he embarked on an incredible mission – to restore a vintage 1959 Bedford 375 truck. Piece by piece, he painstakingly brought this rusty relic back to life, turning it into a breathtaking beauty that would steal the hearts of all who laid eyes on it.
Imagine a world where classic trucks reign supreme, where the rumble of engines and the smell of gasoline fill the air, and where a HTC breakdown mechanic and HGV driver turns a rusty relic into a roaring roadworthy beauty. Well, that’s exactly what Alan Lusted did with his vintage 1959 Bedford 37.5 truck, and his story is as exciting as a thrilling action movie!
The saga of this glorious vehicle began in 1959 when it was first bought by Peter Barker of Staines Road Farms at Shepperton. Little did anyone know that this truck was about to embark on an extraordinary journey through time and many owners’ hands. Alan Lusted, the current proud owner, takes us through the truck’s colourful history.
“It was bought for a market garden company in Shepperton,” Alan explains, “and all it used to do was go across the Thames to the Western Market by Heathrow – very low mileage indeed!” From there, it passed through the hands of various owners, each leaving their mark on this sturdy four-ton, long wheelbase lorry. Teesdale Brothers utilised it for transporting large advertising hoardings, and Benhill Motors, in a bid to restore it, accidentally left it outside for a decade without any cover. Yikes! But fear not, our hero Alan was about to breathe new life into this weather-beaten beauty.
When Alan acquired the truck, it was in a sorry state. “Water when it expands can bend a 10mm coach-bolt,” he chuckles, recalling its condition. “It had been left outside for 10 years with no cover on it. I rebuilt all the body on the original 1958 subframe. Every nut and bolt has been done.” With determination and passion for his craft, Alan took on the challenge, embarking on a four-year journey to restore the truck to its former glory.
The Bedford C-Type lorry was not just any ordinary truck – it featured a 3,519cc 21.4 petrol engine and could support four-ton payloads while grossing at an impressive seven-and-a-half tons. Talk about a powerful vintage beauty! Alan’s dedication and craftsmanship were evident throughout the restoration process, with every inch of the truck receiving his loving attention. “The chap who did the coachwork on it, all the painting, did a brilliant job,” beams Alan, giving credit where credit’s due.
The highlight of the restoration journey was Alan’s goal – to take the beloved Bedford on the London to Brighton Rally in 2004. “We were still working on it the night before,” he laughs, “but we did the Rally, and I was very pleased as the truck hadn’t been used for 20 odd years.” What an achievement! And that was just the beginning of its new life. Alan proudly shares, “We show it a lot, every year I am out in it. You have to have a very understanding wife.”
Indeed, Alan’s wife deserves an award for supporting her husband’s passion, and perhaps she even enjoyed some clever truck-related deceptions. “I was fortunate I worked for DAF Trucks, and I did the recovery, so I always had my mobile van with me,” confesses Alan. “My cousin had a farm just up the road from where I live, and I could be up there while the wife thought I was doing breakdowns on the M25 while I was restoring it.” Ah, the sweet secrets of restoration!
But the story doesn’t end with rallies and joy rides. This beloved Bedford has made its way onto the big screen! “We did all three episodes of Rock and Chips, which was writer John Sullivan’s prequel to Only Fools and Horses,” Alan shares proudly. “Then I got a call from a friend of mine who said they want your lorry for the 100th edition of Midsomer Murders, set in a biscuit factory. Actually, it was Amersham old brewery. We did a couple of days filming up there. Obviously, it is nice to see your truck on the telly.”
It’s no surprise that Alan’s family also shares his enthusiasm for the Bedford. “The family thinks it’s wonderful because my family goes back to 1777,” Alan reveals with pride. “My grandfather, that was his colors. We had a fleet of vehicles. I’ve always loved Bedfords because I used to sit with the old man for hours and hours as you do as a boy. Mainly, people seem to restore vehicles that they grew up with from their childhood.”
As for the future, Alan’s passion remains unyielding. “I’d like to find a big enough hole to be buried inside it,” he jokes. “As long as it keeps going, I’ve done everything on it, but there’s always something to do on them because, obviously, being 63 years old, it does require a bit of attention.”
Since 2004, when he first participated in the prestigious London to Brighton Historic Commercial Vehicle Run, Alan’s restored Bedford truck has been a star attraction at various events across the country. The love and care he poured into this vintage gem were evident as it gracefully cruised through time, capturing the imaginations of truck enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
As Alan Lusted enjoys his well-earned retirement, we celebrate the legacy he leaves behind. His commitment to his profession and his unwavering dedication to restoring a piece of automotive history have left an indelible mark on all who had the pleasure of knowing him.
So, here’s to you, Alan Lusted – the man who combined the roles of breakdown saviour and vintage truck restorer with unmatched flair. Your journey has been nothing short of extraordinary, and your passion has inspired us all. As you step into the next chapter of life, may the roads ahead be filled with joy, adventure, and, of course, the occasional vintage truck rally!