The Carchive: The Morris FG 4-Ton Truck

FG1
So far this series has barely placed a foot in the exciting arena of commercial vehicles. This has been a major oversight on my part, as there is often as many wild claims within the brochure text for your average beast of burden, as there is for that of even the most swoonworthy piece of auto-exotica.
The only lorry we’ve seen so far has been the Ford Cargo, which went on to appear all over the globe under a variety of brands and guises. Today we wind the clock back a further twenty-two years to a time before Beatlemania and from when “E-Mail” was what an exciteable Yorkshireman might exclaim on recieving a letter.
It’s the ’59 Morris FG.

FG2
“Angle planned for easy access and safety”
The Morris FG and its differently badged S200 Austin sister shared this interesting design concept so everything said here applies equally to that vehicle; but since this brochure is exclusively Morris in content, we’ll give that marque all the glory.
“The angled doors make access simplest, swiftest ever, saving the driver’s energy, slicing time off each call”
They were hinged at the rear so they only projected two inches beyond the width of the load platform, thus taking up less loading space and causing no obstruction to passing traffic or pedestrians. This was a boon, of course, but did make for a rather narrow opening into the cab.
That said, they were of great benefit in hot weather, where you could drive around all day long with the doors open.  There are drivers out there who would tell you that this was pretty much essential; the engines were front mounted and lived in a metal box right in the cab and there was only a few microns of enamelled steel between driver and diesel. This arrangement made for a pronounced build up of cabin heat, but did ensure that ones left leg never got chilly. At least those angled doors offered some heat extraction when the vehicle was moving at whatever speed it could gather.
FG3
“In addition there is a wrap-around windscreen, wide corner lights, a full width rear window- and “corneramic” close-up windows to still further the driver’s frontal view in tight space manoeuvring”
“Corneramic!” There’s a made-up word good enough to rival any of the wonderful American portmanteaus you find in Detroit car-brochures, even though I’ve established that the FG could really have used a dose of SelectAire or at the very least some Silent-Flo ventilation. But, creative nomenclature aside, the cab design genuinely was forward-looking both conceptually and physically. This was probably instrumental in the FG remaining in build until deep into the ’70s.
FG4
The extra kerb-spotting visibility afforded to the driver was particularly bounteous especially if the truck spent much of its time in an urban setting, which many FGs did. A lot were operated by public utilities companies and a good many were run by bakery companies for bap ‘n bloomer distribution duties door to door.
Yeah, it was functional to a fault, and never, ever luxurious or even comfortable. It was noted for its particularly narrow seats; lateral accommodation being sacrificed for speed of access and egress. This arrangement was especially loathed by the wide-of-arse. Not a truck for fatties.
Of course, this is a 1959 brochure, one of the very oldest to be found in the R.A-S.H archive, and the specification backs that up. The four-litre, pushrod four cylinder petrol engine, for example. That put out 90hp, and did so at 1000rpm! That’s the same speed at which peak torque of 203ft/ibs was delivered. A thousand revs? That sounds wrong. I suppose the compression ratio was only 6.4 to 1, but it still seems low. That said, I don’t have anything to compare it to. Your thoughts, dear readers?
FG5
Anyway, now we’ve discussed the truck, it’s time we moved onto the brochure itself because it’s an absolute work of art.
Born in a post-war era where Britain was doing everything it could to advance itself on the world stage; to create bigger, faster aircraft which covered longer distances in less time than ever before, the British automotive industry sought to be seen as at the very sharpest point of the cutting edge in terms if design and technology. As a result, the pages of this brochure are sprinkled with images of draftsmen with T-Squares and glasses, in meetings with chief engineers and clients.
It’s all so deliciously quaint by today’s standards. There are no photographs, just exquisite sketches in airbrush and artists gouache.  The artistry, the words and the sentiment are so wonderfully of-their-time that it makes me proud simply to have this document in my possession
The trucks, naturally, are virtually all gone. Those left are either treasured, pampered and allowed a quiet life, or spend their lives gathering dust in museums. This made the example I posted earlier this year after seeing it at the Glastonbury festival all the more remarkable.
FG6
(Disclaimer:- All images are of original manufacturer publicity material, photographed by me. All copyright is still held by the British Motor Corporation, as it were.)

About RoadworkUK

RoadworkUK is the online persona of Gianni Hirsch, a tall, awkward gentleman with a home office full of gently decomposing paper and a garage full of worthless scrap metal. He lives in the village of Moistly, which is a safe distance from London and is surrounded by enough water and scenery to be interesting. In another life, he has designed, sold, worked on and written about cars in exchange for small quantities of money.

13 Comments

  1. It's a rare man who can pull off a suit that is the exact same color scheme as a cantaloupe, but the guy on the cover is almost making it seem like a good idea.

  2. Those pistons are crazy, with all that material above the wrist, er, sorry, gudgeon pin. Seeing all that reciprocating mass, it's a wonder they could manage much more than 1000rpm.

    1. Looks like they have an extra set of rings on them compared to normal.
      I know GM sells/sold a 427 truck engine up until recently that was built that way: extra tall deck and extra rings for longer service life.

  3. Crap. Another vehicle on the bucket list. Dang, it's getting a bit long, id'nit?

  4. When very much younger, I had an after school job as a milk delivery boy and we had one of these as a milk truck. A brilliant design for urban use with still unmatched visibility. Yes it was 1000 rpm – and no syncro on first gear.

  5. 50s & 60s Fords and Chevys are handsome trucks. This is not, nor can I think of a good looking euro truck from that period.

  6. Up until a few years ago there used to be a company, if I remember correctly, called Blue Sky Removals in North London who had one of these. Was lovely!

  7. This is really an awesome design and I would recommend this kind of vehicle for the companies those involve in the removal of heavy luggage and to transport the heavy assets.

  8. Hi,
    Do any guys know where I could find spare parts for an austin s200 truck?
    Any reponses welcome it would help me out a great deal

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