The Foden family built its first steam traction engines in Sandbach in 1881, followed in 1989 by steam wagons designed by Edwin Richard Foden. As steamer sales fell in the 1930s he designed a diesel lorry chassis to be powered by the new Gardner LW (Light Weight) engine. The Foden board would not fund its development, so Edwin and his son Dennis resigned, setting up a factory nearby to build ERF lorries in 1933. Local coachbuilder Jennings designed the cab, and orders flowed in for the C.I model. In wartime the Gardner engines were not available, so AEC engines were used in the D.I lorry. A smaller OE4 model had a Gardner 4LK engine and a new 'Streamline' cab. In 1948 for the new postwar V series lorries Jennings produced a new cab. later built in steel by Willenhall. In 1950 Edwin died and Dennis became MD at only 30. Sales continued to grow, particularly of models fitted with the curvy ERF 'Kleer Vue' (KV) cab. Different engines were offered; Rolls-Royce from 1958 and Cummins from 1961. A new LV cab was launched in 1962, built by Boalloy, then by Jennings. In 1970 a new A series chassis was launched, with the 7LV cab, followed by the B series chassis in 1974, with another new cab, the GRP-panelled SP cab. Times were hard and the fire appliance division was put on the market, but in 1982 a new C series chassis was launched, with a facelifted SP3 cab. In 1986 the E series tractor unit chassis with a further improved SP4 cab was launched to great acclaim. The next step in the 1990s was to incorporate the Steyr steel cab, as well as the Steyr ES6 and ES8 lorries. in 1996 ERF was acquired by Western Star of Canada, and diversified into municipal vehicles with the EU cab and the centre-steer EM. In 2000 MAN acquired ERF, which launched the new ECS and ECX in a new plant in Middlewich, but UK production ceased in 2002, moving to Austria.
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