1932 Stevens Light Commercial Van

Make: Stevens
Model: Light Commercial Van
Year: 1932
Registration Number: 771 YUS
Chassis Number: 52332X
Engine Number: 523
MOT Test Expiry: Exempt
Sold For: £6600

Lot No: 208

After the Stevens brothers ceased to be owners of AJS in 1931, they decided to redirect their energies towards a new enterprise. Working from their Wolverhampton Retreat Street premises, the five brothers (Harry, George, Joe, Jack and Billie) developed and produced a quirky three-wheeled Light Commercial Van that was based on a prototype from a decade prior. The new Van was equipped with a single front wheel with sturdy forks, two rear wheels, a steering wheel, a side valve 588cc engine and a Burman three speed gearbox. Initially, the Stevens was fitted with a bench seat, but this was rapidly replaced with a motorcycle seat, and the vehicle could carry 5cwt until 1935 when the model was upgraded to carry 8cwt. One imagines that the Stevens Van was quite handy in highly populated areas and would have been able to nip through narrow Georgian and Victorian streets with ease, but at the end of production in 1936, a total of only five hundred were produced, as it seems deliveries were more comfortable made in the vehicle’s four wheeled contemporaries.

Registered in 1932, this very rare early example is one of only sixteen Stevens Light Commercial Vans known to be in existence. It is understood that the Van was used by a Warwickshire farm worker in 1947; on his retirement, the vehicle remained at the tied cottage and ended up being used as a chicken coup. After some thirty years, it was then removed and restored. In 2013, the vendor’s late husband purchased the Stevens as an unregistered vehicle. In April of that year, it was assigned the registration number 771 YUS by the DVLA and then a thorough restoration commenced. Much of this was carried out by its owner, and it has been completed to a high standard. We understand that the body was professionally reconstructed by a carpenter / joiner, using oak timbers as the basis of the body frame, to the original pattern. A new radiator was fitted in 2014. Mechanically, there are no known faults and it is believed to be in full working order; indeed, on the DVCA website, there is a short film provided by the vendor of the Stevens Van running. However, as it has been in storage and has had little use, we would recommend a recommissioning service before fully returning the Van to the road.

The fascinating history file included with this rare vehicle contains four invoices for various parts procured directly from Stevens Brothers (Wolverhampton) Ltd by the then owner in 1947, together with a 1955 invoice for a carburettor from Bowden (Engineers) Ltd to a Mr Joseph Harriman of Stafford. Also in the file are further invoices from 2014 and 2018, a VMCC certificate confirming the chassis and engine number, DVLA correspondence, history and information on the Stevens company, photocopy wiring diagrams, Bowden carburettor information, a photocopy sales brochure for Stevens Motorcycles dated 1933, and the V5C registration certificate.

What a lovely opportunity for either a pre-war motorcycle enthusiast or a collector of commercial vehicles; equally, it would of course also make for an excellent advertising platform for any business.  

Auction Date: 9 March 2023