By Rod Ward
The Sherpa van was a mainstay of commerce on the roads of Britain for decades, and many are still in service into the 21st century. The saga of the closure of the LDV factory, where the Sherpa was built, was followed closely by press and public. Everyone knows the iconic Sherpa van, but few know the background story, as told here. It starts with the Morris Commercial J type (with its JB and Austin 101 descendants), then goes on to the J2, J4 and 250JU, leading to the Freight Rover Sherpa under all its denominations and owners including Leyland-DAF. The Sherpa was later updated as the LDV Convoy and Pilot. The LDV story also includes the Cub and the Maxus, leading to a period under ownership by the Russian GAZ firm and then factory closure in Christmas 2008. In October 2009 Eco Concept Ltd bought the LDV assets from the administrators, with the intention of producing and assembling low volume specialist light commercial vehicles. The doors of the Birmingham factory where Morris Commercial vans and Sherpas were made have now closed for good, and a new chapter has opened in the Sherpa story. The first half of this book describes the predecessors of the Sherpa, then the Sherpa and its successors are covered.