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Defence

Witham Specialist Vehicles Ltd

Force to be reckoned with

Travel north along the A1 in Cambridge and Lincolnshire, and you cannot avoid seeing a plethora of RAF airbases. But just south of Grantham at Colsterworth is an equally impressive display of Army hardware at the appropriately named Witham Specialist Vehicles Ltd depot. The title gives the visitor no idea of the treasure trove of military hardware hidden away down Honeypot Lane, for the depot is the sole dispersal point for ex-Army vehicles.

The depot is home to row upon row of Land Rover 90s, 4x4 DAF and Bedford trucks for sale, together with tanks, Saxon armoured personnel carriers, brand new Land Rovers, Scammell bowsers, Jones cranes, Dennis coaches, Massey Ferguson tractors and Fox CVRW vehicles along with a huge array of surplus militaries. The vehicles arrive at Colsterworth at a rate of around 1,000 units per year and in every conceivable condition, and it falls to workshop manager Steve Deans to're-life', dismantle or recycle every one of them. Each vehicle is evaluated, and has faults, problems and repairs noted. “There is a big market for military vehicles, they are tough, simple to maintain and built to last. For instance the 4x4 trucks all end up in Africa where they will almost certainly last for another 30 years.

The plant, ends up in Eastern Europe, the Romanians can't get enough cranes for some reason, while the armoured personnel carriers already have a buyer,” Deans says. “However, they all have to be in good working order, and trying to find components for a vehicle that is 30 years old can be somewhat challenging." And this is where Pirtek Peterborough comes in. "Many of the vehicles for repair have oddball fittings, goodness knows what we will find on some of the more specialised vehicles. But it's got to the point where I phone Pirtek and say 'I want one of these, can you source it' and they do. They have not let us down yet. They have found unique parts for 70s Land Rovers, made rams for Moffat forklifts, they have sourced parts for Royal Navy milk floats, found all sorts of parts for the Leyland DAF trucks, supplied power steering hoses for Aveling Barford graders, hydraulics for JCB wheel loaders, to name but a few of their successes. Their knowledge of the hydraulic market is superb and their ability to source parts is nothing short of miraculous.”

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