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Types of Vans, Trucks and Pickups

If you’re buying a van, truck or pickup for yourself or for your business, the range and types can be quite complex to say the least. In most cases you can buy any van and drive it holding a normal driving licence. That said, it’s always best to check or you else you might have to sell your van quickly!

We’ve compiled a handy list which describe different types of vans, trucks and pickups:

Beavertail – A ‘flat-bed’ truck so you can drive a car or van onto it.  They often come with fixed or separate ramps so the van or car can be loaded easily. This is perhaps more commonly known as a ‘Dovetail’ or just sold as a ‘Flat-Bed’.

Box van – A van with a lot of space – hence the name ‘Box’ often used for furniture or items which aren’t too heavy.

Camper conversion – This is getting ever popular as people buy a box van or similar large van and convert it to a campervan or motorhome which has beds, cooking equipment and sometimes a bathroom.

Car derived van – The front of a car with a large load space attached.  Most of the popular make and models of car have a van derivative like the Astravan, a van based on the Ford Focus and so on.

Chassis cab – The most basic commercial vehicle you can buy, a chassis cab comes with a fully equipped cabin with seats and so on but the rest of the vehicle is just the chassis and the wheels at the rear. This can then be specially converted according to the buyer’s requirements.

Club cab - A pickup truck with seating for 4-5 people coming mostly with four doors.  Increasingly this type of truck is being chosen by people as a work and leisure vehicle sales have increased year on year.  Also called a D/Cab or Double Cab

Conversion van – If someone is selling a conversion van it has been especially modified for a specific purpose, eg a burger van.  If a van or truck has been modified take care in buying as it may have had mechanical and practical changes which may not suit your needs.

Crew van – A van which can carry 4-5 people because it has an extra row of seats, usually accessed by climbing through from the front.

Curtainside – These are usually found on much bigger trucks and trailers.  However, there are some smaller vans which have a material side or even roof which can be detached to allow easy access.  For example smaller Coca-Cola vans have these for delivery to roadside restaurants.

Defenders – Land Rover have been selling Defenders to the same basic design for years.  The four wheel drive Defender is robust and trust worthy, if not that comfortable.   The front of the Defender remains the same whilst the chassis used is used as the base for a loading space, tow truck, ambulance – and a 1000 different variations.

Discovery / Shogun / Freelander.  These and other rugged vehicles are often used commercially and adapted for business and practical use.

Double cab – Double cabs are bought for business and pleasure.  Dealers will often sell a double cab with very high specifications and the cabin is more ‘car like’ than most commercial vehicles. This is also called a Club Cab, see above.

Dovetail – Also known as a Beavertail, is also a flat-bed truck used for transporting cars and small vans etc.

Dropside – Builders and gardeners often buy a Dropside because the shallow side which can be lowered allow equipment and materials to be easily loaded and unloaded.

Dueliners – An upscale van with two or more sets of seats, and more windows often bought for executive travel.  Mercedes sell Dueliners and it is an important niche in which they dominate.

Flatbed – A cab with a large flat loading area used to carry unusual loads which may not fit inside a regular van.  Often used to carry other vehicles, companies also buy a flatbed to carry machinery, bespoke equipment and irregular loads.

King Cab - A pickup truck with two front seats and a bench seat behind either with 2 or 3 doors

Kombi van – Perhaps the most famous example of Kombi van is the VW Campervan, sold the world over and now a retro star of the roads.  Kombi vans are sold by many manufacturers but the main use is still for camping.

Luton van – The Town of Luton, Bedfordshire was the home to Bedford Trucks, part of Vauxhall motors, itself part of General Motors.  Bedford designed a box van but added an extension over the top of the cab and called it the Luton Van.  Now many vehicle manufacturers sell a ‘Luton’ design and it is no longer linked to just Bedford.

Microvan – The Microvan is a Japanese invention.  The engine, cab and load space are all in one smaller box and are often used for light deliveries such as flowers.

Minibus – If you are looking to buy a minibus - a van converted to hold seats with windows – take care to ensure you understand the legal requirements of a minibus owner.  If the minibus you are looking to buy doesn’t have the correct specification, seats and belts, upgrading it can be very expensive indeed.

Motorhome – If you are looking to buy a motorhome be prepared to do your homework and start saving – motorhomes aren’t cheap!  Most motorhomes for sale in the UK are based on a van chassis with the motorhome manufacturer being responsible for the build of the ‘home’ around it.

Panel van – The most common and bestselling panel van is the Ford Transit which is sold the world over.  Other manufacturers will sell their own version but this most common of vans on British Roads is often called a ‘Transit’ even though it may have been made by another manufacture.

Pick up – The pickup is the bestselling of all vehicles in the USA with Ford and GM battling it out to win market share.  In the UK, pickups with double cabs are becoming increasingly popular as a leisure vehicle.

Tanker – A tanker is usually a HGV but there are smaller versions.  These are usually built for specific use such as carrying water.

Taxis - Most taxis are normal passenger cars.  However some taxis are built for that purpose, the most popular example being the London Black Cab.

Temperature-controlled van – Here you can buy a van which has a cooling unit integrated into its design powered by the main engine.  Temperature controlled vans are primarily used for the transportation of food stuffs. With the rise of home grocery deliveries from the likes of Tesco and Sainsbury’s, these are now a very common sight in UK towns.

Tipper – Here the entire load carrying platform can be raised at one end to offload its contents behind the vehicle.

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