The Commer FC van gives many people great memories of their childhood, either as the old Telecom or Post Office vans of yester year or the only classic camper with a full size double bed. Introduced in 1960 the Commer FC was commended for its performance and handling compared to its contemporaries with great space ideal for all industries as a commercial vehicle. The range available was varied with high top vans, 12 and 14 seat buses and sliding door vans as well as others across the range.
In 1965 it was renamed the Commer PA and was fitted with the 1725cc 4 cylinder engine by Rootes. Same engine as used in the Hillman Hunter no less. In 1967 several modifications updated the Commer such as handbrake operation being moved to the front axle and the dynamo being replaced with an alternator with the PA becoming the PB.
Today with various companies’s converting the Commer to a campervan back in the late sixties there is a variety of different classic leisure vans around all very interesting with their unusual variations. Prices are increasing as holidays in England become more popular.
The Commer van enjoyed a good run and was produced from 1960 until 1983 in one form or another. With many vans being converted into catering trucks and camper vans original Commers in stock form are few and far between.
Whatever you buy make sure the basics are all in good working order starting with the body and chassis. The body work is susceptible to rust everywhere below the “plimsole line”. Wheel arches, door bottoms, lower side panels and corners should be put under scrutiny. Also check roof gutters, around the windscreen, heater box inside and any water damage from leaks rotting woodwork inside.
Mechanically Commers are built to last and the 1725cc engine is the best of the lot. It’s reliable and strong. As the engine does not have oil filters it is vital to have frequent oil changes. Do not use a modern oil go for a vintage oil. These are designed to drop contaminants in to the sump so they can be flushed away with the oil change.
Gear boxes are a simple design but the three speed design can be a hassle on modern roads. No synchromesh on first gear means selecting this gear when moving is a problem. It is best to consider a rebuild if it is showing signs of wear before it fails completely.
Brakes need adjusting frequently. Every 3000 miles should be fine. If not a complete overhaul is expensive so make sure they are in good working order. Steering is heavy with rubber gaiter wear adding to the misery. Front and rear Suspension is robust making sure the front is greased regularly. Rear radius arm bearings can wear so check they are ok.
Often restorers fit the wrong size tyres with originals no longer widely available so check tyre size. The modern alternative should be a 205/80 16 which has a softer tyre wall for comfort.
At the height of Commer’s popularity, the late 60’s early 70’s, there were in the region of 2 dozen converters turning Commer vans into campers and coachbuilts in many varied and assorted fashions.
Mark Wilkinson, Managing Director Says:
“The nostalgic Commer van brings back memories of parcel deliveries as a child and summer holidays camping in England. These crazy old vans have a place in everyone’s heart making them a top British van from way back”