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DER Vans

There was a large television rental organisation named Domestic Electric Rentals Ltd which was part of the Thorn Group, that traded from Apex House, Twickenham Road, Feltham, Middlesex. Besides the fleet of vans the company ran for the delivery of larger rental items such as washing machines, there was also a fleet of estate cars that were supplied by Ford, Vauxhall, and BMC in the shape of the Escort, Viva, and 1300 respectively.

During the week, an employee would use the "van" as his office, however the "vans" were slightly more up market than your normal van. The estates were fitted with DER signs at the front and rear at the car, and lettered paneling over the side windows by the load carrying section of the vehicles. Clips and other fastenings were used to hold all motifs to the vehicle, and at weekends the employee could remove these and use the "van" as a family car. Most DER 1300 estate cars were supplied in Tartan Red, while cars assigned to Thorn Group were painted white and the roof was painted black.

Besides the clever marketing setup, security was a top priority given that colour television sets were still not common place at this time. Heavy duty doors locks were fitted, along with a number of anti-theft devices.

So why did DER choose the 1300 Estate? At the time the group were looking to purchase vehicles, there was a strike at Ford. This meant that the supply of vehicles needed to be diversified to enable to company to meet consumer demand. Many have argued that the 1300 was an ideal candidate because the rear doorway was wide enough to easily fit colour television sets still packed in their cardboard containers, this wasn't possible on the Vauxhall Viva models because of the clearance between the high sill and the top of the doorway.

Although the estate cars cost considerably more to buy than vans, on the whole the re-sale value remained higher, cars were more practical for employees and some suggested that the engines were better when comparing with a van.

Whilst reviewing this article, I began to consider that this "revolutionary" idea is now common place. A number of large companies, still use this setup now. Vans are used, for example, in the initial installation phase of say an alarm system. Service calls are made by personnel equipped with an estate car, carrying just the basic tools to enable them to effectively service the alarm.


By Michael Turner



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This page was last modified on Saturday, 01st March, 2014 @ 22:56:31 CET