By Rod Ward
In this publication we cover commercial vehicles made by companies which were incorporated in the Rootes Group; Commer and Karrier, Tilling-Stevens, Vulcan and Beadle, as well as a little on Dodge UK and other firms. Other commercial vehicles made by Humber, Hillman, Singer, Sunbeam and Talbot are described in the Auto Review books dedicated to those marques.
Commer was a well-respected maker of quality trucks which was taken over by Humber in 1926. Thus, when the Rootes brothers acquired Hillman and Humber in the following year, they became the owners of Commer as well. Karrier carved out a niche for themselves producing unusual commercial vehicles. This included rugged but manoeuvrable trucks suitable for the hills around Huddersfield where they were built, then trolleybuses, three-wheeler mechanical horses and specialist municipal
vehicles. In 1934 Rootes added Karrier to their portfolio, then moved the Yorkshire firm in with Commer to share the premises in Luton. Tilling-Stevens (and Vulcan, which T-S took over in the 1930s) were acquired by Rootes in 1949. Both names had a noble heritage in the motor industry, but they could not compete in the second half of the 20th century. In the process of taking over Tilling-Stevens Rootes acquired the design of the new TS3 engine, which powered Commer trucks for 15 years.
Beadle was an old-established coachbuilding firm which had a long association with Rootes before it became part of the Group in 1953. The financial problems which beset the Rootes Group in the early 1960s were not caused by the Commer-Karrier operation, but when Chrysler took over the Group, the Dodge name was eventually applied to most of the ex-Rootes commercial vehicles in the interest of Chrysler international product standardisation. The Dunstable factory, to which Commer and Karrier had transferred, became part of a Peugeot-Renault joint truck venture after 1978, and in the 1990s it evolved into a Renault Industrial Vehicles plant.