The AEC Matador Gun Tractor
The AEC Matador
Large, lumbering low geared and unphased by the heaviest load or muddiest field, the AEC Matador is one of the most iconic British military vehicles of WW2.
The Matador made its debut in 1939, early models having petrol engines but most were fitted with the more powerful AEC 0853 7580cc diesel engine.
Initially conceived as a Medium Artillery Tractor, the 4x4 Matador normally pulled the 5.5inch field gun, with crew and ammunition carried in the cargo body.
Some were modified to actually carry a 25pounder in the back, so that from the air it looked less like an artillery unit.
The Matador HAA – Heavy Artillery Tractor was also produced, comprising 786 units out of a total of 8612 Matadors built by 1945. In addition, 400 chassis cabs were built for towing trailers by the RAF.
The design was influenced by an FWD/Hardy production in the early 1930s.
Many Matadors remained in service until the 1960s, being replaced by the AEC Militant and Martian series.
But Matadors were built to work and work hard. When demoted these were snapped up for civvy street use and apart from the Scammell is probably the only British wartime vehicle still at work today – often being spotted as logging trucks on large forestry projects.
There are thankfully several in preservation on the show circuit.
Restoration projects tend to be fairly expensive at around £4,000, as they have to be prised from loggers who know they can still squeeze more life from them, fully restored they are worth around £8-10,000. But they aren’t bought for investment, they are bought for the love of a masterpiece of British automotive engineering – it’s certainly a truck for the dedicated enthusiast – who willingly accepts the 28mph maximum speed.
Spares are available, often from donor vehicles, but there are also specialists
Brown of Deanfield Commercials whose expertise on the engines
and injectors, coupled with stocks of parts ensures that our much loved
AEC Matadors will have a happy retirement.
Photos by John Blackman www.militaryvehiclephotos.com