ATV

ALL TERRAIN VEHICLES

From the very beginning, before Crayford started, Jeffrey Smith and David McMullan shared an interest in all things off road. They met and worked together at Lambretta Trojan in Croydon near London where they became very successfully at racing and scrambling for the works team during the early 1960’s.

Their racing progressed onto karting, David McMullan went on to win a world championship in the Bahamas, racing against a certain Stirling Moss no less. David’s first moonlighting ventures into business were to develop and market better parts for kart racing. While involved with designing a karting track in the UK, a USA track plan was borrowed, but the planners faild to notice that the photocopy was upside down so the track was built back to front with a 90 degree bend at the start and a long straight to the finish, but nobody in UK noticed! Later at Lambretta Trojan, when the company bought Elva cars, David and Jeffrey became involved with the Elva Courier and road racing.

A young Crayford company soon discovered the Amphicat, made by Beehive Industries in Canada. It was really a six wheeled beach buggy, but it was a swimmer with headlights like bug eyes under the waterline. It was not very suitable for industrial use due to its glass fibre moulded body – hitting a tree stump would crack it like an egg. Still, Crayford started importing and selling them.

 

Crayford really took off in the ATV market when they discovered the Argocat, made by ODG who also operated in Canada. Its body was made of high density polyethylene and very strong. Tyres ran on 3 psi and it would cross quicksand as well as climb the sides of mountains! Crayford secured the rights to market and sell the Argocat in Europe, Africa and Asia. Soon they had a chain of dealers and dedicated customers in England, Wales and Scotland especially among the hunting and shooting set.

Crayford were soon importing 30 units a month, providing a good, all year round, income alongside the seasonal convertible car business until that ceased in 1981. Argo is still the mainstay of the Crayford Group.

Argocats were available as a six or 8 wheeled ATV, the biggest was “Triton” a military/polar version that was an 8 wheeler with double wheels on each axle, i.e. it was a 16 wheeler unit, also pulling a 4 wheel support trailer making a 20 wheeled unit.

Argocats were used in the Falklands war, and for Anthrax spraying in Scottish islands amongst many other unusual applications.

In their white period, the Beatles had a white Argocat each to go with the white piano and white suits, not to mention the “White Album”. John Lennon was photographed on his friend, Harry (I can’t live, if living is without you) Nielsen’s Amphicat on Harry’s farm outside New York, where they grew pot and cabbages.

Crayford are still very successful in the ATV business and based in St. Albans, Herts, now trading as Argo Vehicles Ltd.

Websites: www.argvehicles.com or www.crayford.co.uk

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