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Old Post Van

Old Post Van: Leyland EA345

This is a 1978 Leyland Redline EA345 - an old post van of the type which was common in Britain in the 1970s and early 1980s. If you ever got stuck behind one of these things you'd notice the unusual asymmetrical differential, and the typical cruising speed of about 40MPH.

Other useful facts: The engine is the 2520cc diesel, mounted at a curious sideways angle. The body is build on a chassis, like a truck rather than like a van. This makes it stronger and more repairable, but much heavier. I've weighed it and found it's about 2.6 metric tonnes.

There's quite a history to this particular vehicle. When it was new, in 1978, it was owned by The Post Office. The panel on the passenger side sliding door used to have "Head Postmaster Twickenham" on it. I bought the van in 1986 at Chelmsford auction. At that time it had no reverse gear, but this was soon fixed by fitting a salvaged gearbox. Various other repairs were carried out and the vehicle customised by having craftsman-made living accommodation fitted inside, like a fitted kitchen but with bed, table, hi-fi, sink, gas cooker, computer, toilet, etc.

I went SEEKING MY FORTUNE, touring around in the old truck. I had various crazy business ideas including a thing I'd seen in visions of a predicted future in which pages of hypertext were linked together. (free association). I had this on-screen in the back and went around trying to convince people of it long before the modern Internet.

As with any vehicle, things went wrong mechanically, but I always did my own repairs. I took this to extremes and have done the BIG ENDS myself, and the cylinder head. So, what you see is a vehicle which although it looks tatty, has a very good engine which I have reconditioned myself! Even if it's not been started for a few months, it almost always starts first time!

There's an official Leyland workshop manual to go with it. When I bought this I was told it was the last copy of the Leyland EA345 manual ever sold.

You can't tell from the outside that it's got living accommodation inside. This is a deliberate feature of the design.

Other modifications: The wheels were originally 14in centres and have been replaced with 16in centres. This makes the machine do more "miles per mile", and in practice makes it more economical as well as faster. The exhaust became obsolete and unobtainable long ago and a special customised solution was implemented by a local practical engineer who fitted a special adaptor and an exhaust from a Ford Escort. The battery leads have been extended and the battery has been upgraded to the biggest battery I could get while still being 12 volts. It's about 600 amps, or it might be 800 amps. The dashboard has novel features including switchgear from gambling machines. Press "GAMBLE" to gamble on how much preheat to give the engine (green light lights up), and "START" to power-up the starter motor. There's also a red HOLD/NUDGE button installed for the purpose of lighting the rear brake lights to put off any fluffy dice owners being rash enough to do tailgating. There are unorthodox security measures, but let's not go into details about them!

Downsides: Obviously quite a serious case of rust, and you can see various pieces are starting to fall off. But the main structure is a chassis, so all the rust damage is peripheral and can be mended by someone willing to take on the challenge. Also, there is some fire damage from a fire caused by welding sparks some time ago. This will require some work to replace some of the wood of the fitted furniture. All possible.

So, there it is:

1. It's an old post van in need of restoration. A classic old-style shape of a type which is now so rare that people have a good look at it.

2. It's a vehicle with several careful owners including Zyra and the Post Office. It's been the postman's delivery wagon and it's been Zyra's fortune-seeking mobile house!

3. It can be regarded as the world's first vehicle ever to have its own website! The pages of "The Leyline" existed long before the modern World Wide Web.

It's also worth knowing that there was a genuine reason for wanting to sell this amazing collectible potentially-roadworthy piece of history. I'm emigrating as a tax exile, SOLD! and even though I'm quite eccentric, I'm to some extent in agreement with those who think it would be quite odd to ship a machine this big thousand of miles and then drive around a tax haven in an old truck! (ex-PostVan ExPat!)

News 2008/10: SOLD! The vehicle was sold (for an undisclosed sum) in October 2008 to a sympathetic expert in vehicle restoration. As a condition of sale, we will receive "before and after" photographs of the restoration. The idea is to preserve as much of the character of the item as possible, and to put a happy ending on the story.

Also see vintage caravan

Also see having manual preheaters and fuel economy modifications to vehicles