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The Commercial Motor Archive

  • 25 December 2013
  • By James Clark

The Commercial Motor Archive ( launched in late 2012 following a mammoth effort to scan and index nearly 400,000 pages of the magazine. With articles dating right back to 1905, what has attracted the most interest from the archive’s users?

Most popular year

The most viewed year was 1976. This was a year which saw major changes to the classification of goods vehicles, making it legal to drive a lorry up to 7.5 tonnes GVW on British roads without an HGV licence.

In September of the same year was the Westoning disaster, in which a petrol tanker overturned and exploded in a picturesque Bedfordshire village. Fortunately no one was killed but several firemen were injured and 21 local residents were made homeless when their houses caught fire.

Most searched-for operator

The most searched-for operator was legendary logistics entertainment firm Edwin Shirley Trucking (later called EST). Founder Edwin Shirley died in April.

Another operator to figure highly in the archive’s search results was international haulier Astran (pictured above), with interest perhaps prompted by the appearance of one of its trucks on the front cover of Commercial Motor back in March.

Most searched-for manufacturer

Here Scania takes the crown, followed by vintage British marque Seddon Atkinson. It is not just heritage and vintage content that users have been looking for, though, with the most viewed Scania-related feature being Commercial Motor’s road test of the G440 LA 4×2 MNA from May 2012.

Most viewed article

From the 1970s right into the 1990s, Commercial Motor published a regular series of features called ‘Worshop Ways’, step-by-step guides to maintenance checks for particular makes of truck. All of these have proven popular with the archive’s users, and the most viewed of all is the guide to the Mercedes-Benz 814 7.5-tonner.

The second most popular article over the past year was a 1939 feature examining four different methods for calculating the hill-climbing ability of a vehicle. Nearly 75 years after publication, it is pleasing to think that the formulae in this piece are still proving themselves useful to some.

The Archive – past and present

With the help of Commercial Motor’s readers we tracked down many missing issues of the magazine during the course of the year. The archive is now 99% complete with fewer than 50 issues yet to find – for an up-to-date copy of the ‘missing’ list, please email

In 2014 we will continue to hunt for these issues as well as add more recent content – each new issue of Commercial Motor appears in the archive approximately three months after publication.

October 2013 saw the launch of Big Red Truck, a web shop offering a selection of posters, t-shirts and greetings cards featuring our favourite images from the archive. In 2014 we are hoping to expand the range of products available so do keep an eye on our stock list.

Currently the archive is free to all, although users need to complete a short registration form after viewing their first few articles. This may change in the future, although we guarantee that the archive will always remain free – and freely available – to all Commercial Motor subscribers.


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