Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Different sort of Retriever is star draw on Crufts Day 2

By Matthew Cooper, Press Association

More than 22,000 dogs are competing at this year's Crufts show in Birmingham

A 1950s delivery van rebuilt with bodywork retrieved from a Stoke-on-Trent salvage yard has gone on show at Crufts - after its owner ignored calls to scrap it.

The Morris Commercial J-Type was unveiled at the NEC by Lincolnshire-based Laughing Dog farm bakery after a 1,750-hour restoration overseen by William Grant, the grandson of the firm's founder.

Mr Grant, aged 27, says the pre-motorway vehicle could be used for local deliveries but admits its 40mph top speed - slower than some greyhounds - would make journeys further afield problematic.

The recently-completed restoration at Laughing Dog's site in Old Leake, near Boston, went ahead despite the front of the 1.5-litre J-Type - bought in 2013 - being badly rust-ridden.

Although the original chassis has been maintained, the poor condition of the van's bodywork forced Mr Grant to source a rear section from a scrapyard and reproduce other panels using more than 20 sheets of mild steel.

The new panels were shaped by hand to produce parts indistinguishable from factory-made equivalents fashioned in 1951.

Laughing Dog - which makes grain-free and wheat-free dog food - has named the van after the late Ted Grant OBE, who set up the company.

His grandson told the Press Association: "The main thing that interested me about the project was building the body because everybody had said it should be written off.

"I've obviously picked up a whole lot of new skills along the way - and I'd like to thank everyone who has helped me.

"When you're doing something like this, you come across people who help you and it's truly remarkable what they can do."

Asked how the van performs when driven, Mr Grant added: "It's very, very noisy. It's got a very high back axle ratio, so it accelerates quickly but has a top speed of about 40mph.

"Because of its low top speed it's almost dangerously slow now and it will be owned by the factory and used as a promotional vehicle.

"We would have liked to have used the original body but it's quite hard to explain just how bad it was - the whole thing was perforated so badly you couldn't repair anything."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.


From Belfast Telegraph