This is a Fordson WOT, the name stands for “War Office Truck,” and this example was deployed by the Royal Air Force during World War II as a radar truck. It’s been restored and it’s now coming up for sale with a price guide starting at $17,400 USD.
This WOT fulfilled a critical need for early warning of approaching enemy aircraft, and it would have been stationed with a mobile heavy anti-aircraft unit with whom it would have been connected by a cable line for the instant transmission of alerts.
Fast Facts – The Fordson WOT
- Fordson is a name that may be familiar to those with an interest in tractors. The company was founded as Henry Ford & Son Inc in 1917 and built tractors on both sides of the Atlantic under various local company names.
- Fordson tractors were built by the Ford Motor Company Ltd in the UK from the 1920s right the way through into the 1960s. This British wing of Ford would also build a series of trucks and vans.
- During World War II the Ford Motor Company Ltd in the UK built the Fordson WOT from 1939 until 1945, the name stands for “War Office Truck,” and it’s believed that over 130,000 of them were made across five major variants: WOT1, WOT2, WOT3, WOT6, and WOT8.
- The WOT was powered by the Ford Flathead V8 with a displacement of 3.6 liters and an output of 85 bhp at 3,800 rpm and 144 lb ft of torque. This engine had been used extensively in civilian production vehicles before the war, and after the war it would be the affordable V8 engine that was used to power many hot rods.
The Fordson WOT
The Fordson WOT was rapidly developed in the late 1930s to meet a request from the British War Office for a military truck that was versatile, fast to manufacture, and mechanically simple. Fordson was the tractor and agricultural equipment company owned by the Ford Motor Company, and they had a headquarters over in England for their British and European operations.
Although Fordson was more used to developing tractors they did have some experience with truck design. The early Fordson WOT1 was based on the Fordson E88 and the Ford Barrel Nose truck of the 1930s, which greatly helped to reduce development time.
Power was provided by the Ford Flathead V8, a 3.6 liter side-valve engine that had debuted in the 1932 Ford V8. It would be this engine that kickstarted the American love affair with V8 engines, it wasn’t the first engine of this type or course, or even the first American engine of the type, but it was the first V8 that was affordable to everyday working class people.
Although it was designed for use in civilian automobiles the Ford Flathead V8 would see a broad range of other uses over its production run including trucks, vans, boats, and even tanks.
When the engineers at Fordson were looking for a simple, reliable truck engine that could run on low-grade fuel they didn’t have to look far – they would use a variation of the Ford Flathead to power all variants of the Fordson WOT.
The WOT used a body-on-chassis design, still a staple of truck design today all these decades later. They were given steel bodies and most had canvas tops.
Fordson built the WOT in five major variants: WOT1, WOT2, WOT3, WOT6, and WOT8. The first three were rear-wheel drive trucks with the cab behind the engine. The last two versions were four-wheel drive with a cab-over-engine layout.
All used the 3.6 liter Flathead V8 producing 85 bhp at 3,800 rpm and 144 lb ft of torque. This engine was mated to a 4-speed manual transmission, the four-wheel drive versions also had an additional reduction gearbox offering both high and low-range gearing, as well as the option to run in just rear-wheel drive mode to save fuel and wear and tear on the drivetrain.
WOTs were built in a remarkable array of sub-variants, far too many to list here, some where fire tenders, others were artillery tractors, personnel carriers, cargo trucks, airfield crash tenders, and radar trucks.
It’s believed that Fordson produced a staggering 130,000+ examples of the WOT across all variants between 1939 and 1945, the length of the war in Europe. Very few are known to have survived today, with most being scrapped after the war or slowly succumbing to rust in the years that followed.
The Fordson WOT RAF Radar Truck Shown Here
The vehicle you see here is one of the original radar trucks used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) during World War II. It’s a 1943 model so it would have seen service for the final three years of the conflict, its history is largely lost now but most were deployed in the European theatre of war.
As a radar truck this vehicle would have operated a mobile radar station that was designed to fill in the gaps between the large, permanent radar stations on the ground.
This truck would have deployed with a mobile heavy anti-aircraft unit to whom it would have been connected by telegraph cable, to send instant notifications of in-bound enemy aircraft, as well as their approximate location and altitude.
The current owner of this WOT acquired it earlier this year after it had been fully restored. It’s believed to be one of just two of these that remain in the world, with the other being in the Shuttleworth Collection.
This truck is now due to roll across the auction block with H&H Classics on the 23rd of September at the 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum with a price guide of £14,000 – £17,000 which works out to approximately $17,400 – $21,100 USD.
If you’d like to read more about this truck or register to bid you can visit the listing here.
Images courtesy of H&H Classics
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