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Back in the 1970/80s when you went down the high street there where many TV rental shops . The Thorn group Der/ Radio rentals /multi broadcast . plus Rediffusion /Granada /Visionhire/Telefusion.  Just to name a few.  Looking for Vehicles in OO the only one i can find is a MK1 transit by Trackside in DER  livery.  Most TV rental companies had Ford Escort Vans or Escort estates and Bedford HA vans. There must be a call for these models. 

Edited by crompton 33
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Matchbox Toys did a Commer BF van in Radio Rentals and Rentaset liveries back in the 1960s, although it was slightly underscale for 1/76. However, RTI do a 1/76 resin kit of the BF van, and transfers are available from Steve Flowers Model Supplies and from Black Square decals. The transfers could be applied to other vehicles, of course.

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When I worked at Currys 1973-78 we had Austin J4 vans, there were some Morris Minor vans being decommissioned. The shop I worked in became a brown goods only (TVs, radios, VCRs etc.) - we got an Escort van (Mk1) on a K plate - that shifted!

 

Sign writing in those days was by paint - no use of vinyl overlays.

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3 hours ago, crompton 33 said:

Back in the 1970/80s when you went down the high street there where many TV rental shops . The Thorn group Der/ Radio rentals /multi broadcast . plus Rediffusion /Granada /Visionhire/Telefusion.  Just to name a few.  Looking for Vehicles in OO the only one i can find is a MK1 transit by Trackside in DER  livery.  Most TV rental companies had Ford Escort Vans or Escort estates and Bedford HA vans. There must be a call for these models. 

 

My grandfather was in the TV rental business.  As memory serves, he had two vans, one was a minivan, and the other one was something a bit bigger.  I don't think it was a transit, but it would have been that sort of size.

 

He sold up in the mid 70s, by then the rental market was dying, partly because TVs were getting much more reliable and partly because the costs were coming down making ownership more affordable.

 

Adrian

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Hi all,

I remember a rental firm using Viva HB or HC estates with the rear side windows being opaque and their logo on the panel. I don't know if they were just ordinary estates or factory produced vans. I can't remember if it was one of the big boys (RR, Granada) or a local firm. I've seen Escorts done the same way.

 

Steve

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They would have been panels (vacuum formed, possibly white opaque acrylic, from memory) over the windows. Apart from a single prototype HB and a batch converted in Sweden, there were no van versions of the later HB or HC Viva estates. Escort estate version shown in the previous link I gave above.

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I started a long career working for the Thorn EMI group starting with Radio Rentals in 1965

 

The vehicles around used by Radio Rentals at the time were either Bedford  CA Van in white with green lettering previous to that as I remember where the Ford Thames 400E van in green with cream lettering .

 

The above two vehicle types were used for both delivering and collecting  TVs to and from customers and often fitted with ladder racks as at that time suppling and fitting TV aerials was also undertaken.

 

At that time all the field tv engineers used there own cars and were paid a car allowance and fuel supplied, and as I remember no tax implications.

 

In the 1960s smaller ( mostly Ford Escort and a few Vauxhall Viva HA ) vans started to be used by the installation staff.

 

Also at that time many engineers had the opportunity of a White Ford Escort Estate which had removable side panels fitted which had the Radio Rentals logo on the side which could be removed during non working hours (The same for the other Thorn EMI rental companies ie Multibroadcast, Vista Video and DER (Same vehicles only in red)

 

As well as the models identified above Corgi did a MK11 Escort Van  as a code 3 model in 1/43 scale 

 

Hope it helps

 

Terry 

 

 

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I remember the Radio Rentals Ford Escort estates with the green panels over the windows. Was there perhaps a tax advantage in using estate cars rather than vans? 

 

Did the big companies have a regional bias? I only really recall Radio Rentals here in southern England, is that just my memory, or did, say DER, have more of a presence in other regions? 

 

As mentioned above there were also local TV repair businesses, often selling and installing them (and aerials) as well as repairing. My local example, Mr Mainstone, had his shop a few doors along from my grandparents' house, and his workshop on the opposite side of an alleyway from my grandfather's bakery, behind the same row of houses/shops. Plenty of modelling opportunities there! Mainstone had a plain grey Ford Escort Mk1 van, later partially replaced by a sign written white Bedford

Rascal (the Escort was retained for aerial installation work) which seemed to spend half its life partially blocking the main road outside the shop. 

Perhaps I've gone off a bit of a tangent, but its a by-gone era and a world away from where we are now where one can by a TV in a supermarket along with your baked beans and breakfast cereal...

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Not sure if there were any tax advantages in estate cars over vans.

 

Radio Rentals were the largest of the Thorn EMI rental group and covered all over England, Scotland and Wales with over 630 showrooms at their peak 

 

DER as I remember slightly smaller and was the original Thorn Rental company ( Thorn bought Radio Rentals in 1964)

 

The other two much smaller companies being Multibroadcast (mainly in the south ) and Vista Video which I think originated in the East Midlands 

 

All the above being TV rental companies the retail outlet being Rumbelows and the much smaller group called Atlantis 

I’m sure there were others. 
 

I remained employed by Thorn EMI until I retired in 2007 but transferred away from Radio Rentals in 1979 

 

Happy Times

 

Terry 

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8 hours ago, HillsideDepot said:

I remember the Radio Rentals Ford Escort estates with the green panels over the windows. Was there perhaps a tax advantage in using estate cars rather than vans? 

 

Absolutely the other way around, there was a huge tax saving for a van. As I understand it, the idea was that the vehicle was registered as a van, but, by having these removable panels, it could be used by the driver out of hours as his company "car" without attracting tax. I have heard of a Mr. Hyacinth Bucket type stopping around the corner from home and removing the panels, so the neighbours couldn't get wind of this subterfuge.

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Austin A30/A35 were produced in a van or Countryman (estate) versions. The former were cheaper to buy and much less purchase tax, so many new owners bought the van and did the simple conversion after purchase. Was documented in the Owners Club magazine many years ago.

 

Stewart

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12 hours ago, stewartingram said:

Austin A30/A35 were produced in a van or Countryman (estate) versions. The former were cheaper to buy and much less purchase tax, so many new owners bought the van and did the simple conversion after purchase. Was documented in the Owners Club magazine many years ago.

 

Stewart

Cars (windows behind the driver) attracted car tax. It was popular to buy Mini vans and do this, but Customs & Excise would get involved. You could do it if you paid the tax.

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When I was working at Police HQ, our office was next to the Police Vehicle Eaminer's office. Over tea one day, we were chatting with him. Mothing intended from him, but the conversation came round to our Home Office van, a Mklll Ford Escort (horrible thing...). It had a tall narrow triangular glass window just behind the driver's door, George reckoned it was a "design" feature by Ford, to keep it in the "car" category, otherwise it would be subject to the (then more stringent) speed restrictions of a van, which they thought  (in his opinion) would not be not a popular sales point!

As it was a Govt. vehicle, it was not subject to Road Fund Licence (whatever it was called), nor insurance either. If there were roadside vehicle checks being done, and the copper knew us, he would wave us in, and let the rookie copper with him try to catch us out.....

 

Stewart

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I was the Personnel Manager at DER from the mid 1970 s till 1984 .

The Ford Escort Estate car was a big inducement for tv engineers to join at a time when they were in great demand . DER was the first to offer estates when other companies provided vans .

Going outside my role , I phoned Matchbox toys to ask if they would make models in DER livery . They agreed to do so but we would have to underwrite sales of ( I recall) 10,000 units . The advertising budget wouldn’t stretch that far .

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I’m not sure where they stood in the hierarchy of rental businesses but we had British Relay, one of the early generation of ‘cable’ TV operators.


They had a workshop next to the office my mother worked in and the vans were Ford Anglias up to 1968 when the Escort estates with the detachable panels appeared. These were blue with the panels in cream (possibly white) and we’re held in place with twist lock devices, I remember them as being similar to the kind of thing that’s used on garden shed doors.

 

I believe they became Visionhire before disappearing with the coming of the second generation of cable operators.

 

Theres an interesting company film on YouTube about the system and the company.

 

 

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I have read that DER bought estate cars with clip on panels because of the accountants favourite ' residual values'.

i.e. they retained much more of their value when sold compared to  vans.

Their is no way a large company like them would be accounting for them as vans and  letting drivers ' convert' them to cars after work.

Police and Customs back then were red hot on vans with side windows and used to check the tax discs ( remember them !).

 

The Mk111 Escort Van with little 'opera windows '  was a real pain for Ford and operators when introduced as the law then was quite clear , light vans with windows behind the drivers window were private cars .

I believe their was a legal wrangle and Ford possibly due to their commercial might managed to win it.

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I remember back in the mid-70s, a 'cheap and cheerful' car rental company near me bought a few ex-DER Escort Mk1 estates. I hired one for a weekend, and wished I'd not bothered. The thing was so underpowered despite having only 62,000-odd miles on the clock. When I took it back off rental, I commented and was told that the reason was that they had the 900cc engine - which I wasn't aware of at the time. Was he pulling my leg, or were they really specified with this engine?

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On 02/08/2020 at 20:27, 1466 said:

I was the Personnel Manager at DER from the mid 1970 s till 1984 .

The Ford Escort Estate car was a big inducement for tv engineers to join at a time when they were in great demand . DER was the first to offer estates when other companies provided vans .

Going outside my role , I phoned Matchbox toys to ask if they would make models in DER livery . They agreed to do so but we would have to underwrite sales of ( I recall) 10,000 units . The advertising budget wouldn’t stretch that far .

It is likely that we may have me,t as from 1979 I transferred from Radio Rentals to Radio Rentals Contracts which was based at APEX House In Feltham.

 

I believe that was also DER head office

 

I worked with Des Crowden, Tony Scott, George Green and Simon Bee  
 

The Good Old Days

 

Terry 

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Hi Terry

yes highly  likely we met . My office was on the 5th floor but later we moved up to , I think , the 7th floor .

As you know , Apex house was demolished.

As you say Good Old Days !

Ken Lavey

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Hi Ken

 

If I remember correctly my old boss Des Crowden told me the story that he managed to locate the vehicle with the number plate DER 1 which was then purchased just for the number plate and then transferred to I presume the MDs car.

 

Terry 

 

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Yes I remember the plate DER 1 and it was on a black limousine kept in the underground car park at Apex house . It was seldom used from what I recall . The holding company had a very efficient and helpful transport section who were located in Apex house .

Apex house featured in the original “Italian Job “ when it stood in for the  building controlling traffic lights .for the city .Michael Caine cuts off the electricity . In the film you can see Viv Hartley , the House Services Manager, get the nod and start to throw switches and the office lights go out .

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