Ken Cooke, RIP

It is with great sadness that we report that Ken Cooke, a long-time Register member, passed away on the 7th April after a long illness.

Ken was passionate about all things J. The fount of all knowledge regarding the J-type and its Austin 101 variants, he was always happy to pass on this expertise, acquired down the years, to any owner or enthusiast.

His favourite van was undoubtedly XRH 885, the Austin 101 that he had owned for 56 years. Fellow owners and enthusiasts got together with Ken to celebrate the 50 year-milestone at Gaydon in 2014.

Ken kept XRH in immaculate condition and attended many Register get-togethers in it.

He will be sorely missed on the Rally scene.

We send condolences to his son Kevin and daughter Debbie. Debbie has vowed that the 101 will remain in her possession, and that it will be seen at rallies as and when possible.

One of life’s true gentlemen, Ken will be mourned and missed by all who knew him.

Ken and his van featured in the  book, ‘The J-type’ by David Allison and Harvey Pitcher, and was a regular sighting on the TV series Heartbeat.

Ken and his daughter Debbie with presentation plaque

XRH 885 information board

New date for Classic Van and Pickup Show

We have heard from the organisers at Gaydon’s British Motor Museum that a new date has been scheduled for the 2021 Classic Van and Pickup Show, in conjunction with the Classic and Vintage Commercial Show. It is now scheduled for the weekend of August 14th/15th. This is in line with the latest government announcements about the timings for changes to the current Covid lockdown.

STOP PRESS: 03/03/21: The organisers have announced that the Practical Classics Classic Car & Restoration Show, with Discovery, will not run on 11-13 June 2021 as planned. The next edition of the show will now take place 18-20 March 2022.

Good times are a-coming, and vans for sale too!

We have had contact from Clarion Events – the organisers of the NEC Classic Car Show – who are aiming for November 12-14 2021 for the next show, so less than a year and counting… with all the news of successful vaccines about to come on stream, we ARE applying for a stand.
Life will never be back to the ‘old normal’ – I’m sure we all know that – but there will be something like that rosy glow of ‘old times’ should we once again be able to display a few of our beloved vans in amongst a hall full of finely restored motors.
We’ve even had a bit of a brainwave for organising vans to appear:
I was looking up some info on the ‘Surviving J chassis number list’ and noticed that 4 vans were together on it:
7418 WJ – ex MacFisheries, being restored to its original livery by Gordon Wilson
YMJ 702 – the wonderful British Rail Austin van owned by Mike Bell
5003 NX – mine
941 XMT – Steve Parkes’ ex-Graham Wilton van (currently about to be put up for sale, so who knows where it might be in a year…)
Four vans all within a production batch of 368 vans, which may well have been going down the line at Adderley Park in the same week – could be the same day even, for the last two, only 34 apart. All registered some 60 years ago come January… that would make for a great display at the NEC, wouldn’t it!
Mike’s up for it, I’m up for it, Gordon is too, with the proviso that it depends upon his van being finished. Fingers crossed that XMT finds a home with someone who will look kindly upon the idea of displaying for a few days.
The new digital Digest has been well received. Work is now underway on Digest 2, so if you have any editorial contributions that you think might be suitable for future use please do send them in. Publishing any form of newsletter relies on owners and enthusiasts sending in J-related stuff to include.
FOR SALE: As mentioned above, Steve Parkes is considering selling 941 XMT and 416 MML, his two J minibuses. If you are interested in either (or both) Steve can be contacted via or on 07973 405119.

2020 NEC Classic Motor Show cancelled


Show Director Lee Masters explained: “The current Covid-19 climate has created uncertainty for both our exhibitors and visitors. With the weeks now counting down towards our open date we have taken the difficult decision to postpone this year’s event.”

“As a team, we are extremely disappointed as we have done everything within our power to try and make it happen. We want to thank all our partners, clubs, exhibitors, visitors and suppliers who have supported our endeavours to bring the show to you this year. We understand that this decision will be a disappointment to many people who eagerly await the Classic Motor Show each year and look forward to when we can get together again.”

“We would particularly like to express our heartfelt thanks to all the clubs and their members who, despite the current situation, were willing to support the show this November. To be fair to everyone, we will be inviting all clubs to reapply to be a part of the Classic Motor Show 12-14 November 2021. Further details will be issued later in the Autumn.”

Gaydon Classic Commercials Aug 9th 2020

Sunday the 9th is the day for what was the Classic Van and Pick-up Show at Gaydon. It has now been amalgamated with the annual Classic & Vintage Gathering, also moved forward from its original June date. 

In any normal year the Register would be happy to display, but in these Covid19-sensitive times we have not felt that it is safe enough yet to poke our heads above the parapet, as it were.
Find out more at:

Troubled times…

This is an unprecedented time for us all and one which is filled with a great deal of uncertainty. The coronavirus (COVID -19) crisis has impacted our world in ways hard to even imagine a few weeks ago.
          Our love affair with the J-type is of little consequence in the great scheme of things, but these wonderful vans do deliver pleasure to many classic enthusiasts worldwide. Even though events are being cancelled and people are asked to restrict their movements, those of us lucky enough to own a van can still do some work on them and ready them for a time when they can deliver that pleasure again!
          We have updated the Events page of the Register website and will make further changes as and when notified.
Please Note: Practical Classics Restoration Show: Now rescheduled for March 26/27/28th 2021.


This coming Sunday, the 9th August, is the day for what was the Classic Van and Pick-up Show at Gaydon. It has now been amalgamated with the annual Classic & Vintage Gathering, also moved forward from its original June date.

In any normal year the Register would be happy to display, but in these Covid 19-sensitive times we have not felt that it is safe enough yet to poke our heads above the parapet, as it were.

Find out more at:

          In the meantime keep safe, stay healthy and let’s all support each other.

NEC Classic Motor Show 2019

This was the best chance in many a year to see a complete set of Post Office J-types together – Royal Mail, Planning van and Utility, and a lovely pair of Austin 101s.

The Register would like to thank all those members who came along and chatted, and especially the members who brought along their vans to have on display. It’s quite a commitment in terms of time etc, but it is appreciated.


We got an ‘honorable mention’ at the club awards ceremony…

2019 Classic Motor Show at the NEC, UK

The Register has a stand at the NEC, in Hall 4, stand number 4-565, appropriately next to the Morris-Commercial Club.The show runs from the 8th ’til the 10th November.

Members will have noticed a lack of updates on the website and the absence of Reviews. Unfortunately, due to matters beyond our control, we have had to take this hiatus. No member will be out of pocket, and we will fulfil our responsibilities as and when possible, before expecting any further subs payments.

2018 Classic Motor Show Review

So, the Classic Motor Show is over for another year!

More than 71,000 visitors spent time in the eight halls, viewing 300 club stands and some 3000 vehicles. Despite being such a small Register, our display got a mention in Classic and Sports Car’s digital review, along with a photo of our stand. “A wonderful assembly of J-Type vans…” praise indeed!

With the show falling on the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, the organisers had sent round, a few months ago, a note asking clubs to consider ways of marking this. Difficult when our vans only came along much later and even Morris~Commercial would not come into existence until some six years after WW1 ended, so we couldn’t even make  a big thing out of the war effort (which we undoubtedly could do with WW2).

As a small club we have never really bothered with themes for the show, we’ve always been happy just to get a display there, but we got to thinking along the lines of seeing if we could accompany some/all of the four vans with a big (maybe life-size) print of an uncle/great uncle/2nd cousin twice removed whatever, for each of the owners. With a comment relating each photograph to a van owner, it would put a perspective of sorts on how the hundred years have gone by.
We ended up with two photos from the Pitcher family archives and one from Mike Bell, owner of the Austin. 
There were some great displays and some fabulous vehicles, as can be seen in the gallery below. Also very pleasing was that so many Register members, fellow owners and enthusiasts took the trouble to find us and to stay and chat about the wonderful world of J-type vans.

Next year the Organisers are celebrating the 35th anniversary of the show, with the date already set for 8/9/10 November. Let’s hope we are offered a stand again.

One of the gallery photos shows what we achieved with the full-size relatives. They were much photographed and commented on, including by someone who introduced herself to us to explain that she was a cousin, or something, of Mike’s wife as she too had the very same photo at home. That must have been an amazing feeling, to be walking round the show and be confronted in such a way!


Motorclassica, the Bendigo Bash and The NEC!

The Aussies have had a great time organising the Motorclassica and Bendigo 70th Anniversary events.

Six vans were on show at Motorclassica in Melbourne, whilst an impressive thirteen turned out for the Bendigo event. A fourteenth van turned up for the Sunday afternoon at the Morris Minor Garage.

Motorclassica (click on any photo to enlarge)


Bendigo (click on any photo to enlarge)


Morris Minor Garage, Harcourt (click on any photo to enlarge)

Meanwhile, back in the UK, the Classic Motor Show is on at the NEC, Birmingham. We have four vans on display. More photos to follow.