by Bart Vanreusel
The most famous ice cream mini's are from the hand of Coachbuilders S.C. Cummuns Ltd (based in Crewe) and Whitby Morrison. After 15 years of specialist conversions, they started specialising in building ice cream vans in 1965. It didn’t take long to see the mini pick-up, one of the cheapest commercial vehicles available at that time, was the perfect base for doing this. It was in fact the first small sized model in which the operator could remain inside the car, where in other ice cream conversions, he had to step on the pavement to serve his customers. Therefore, the bulkhead and rear window section were removed, and the floor got some extra strength panels for compensation. The passenger seat was replaced by the refrigeration unit box. A sink unit was installed behind the driver and the freezer to the rear, being the typical layout for small ice cream vans. From the mid ‘60s to the mid ‘80s, two different Cummins models (part of the Whitby Heritage Colection) were produced; the flamboyant Batman version with the “ears” and 2 windows above the front windscreen, and the more common model with the rounded front. Both were constructed using glassfibre and aluminium perspex and glas windows. Ad the “Mind that child” or “Stop me and buy one” text traditionally emblazoned at the tailgate and you've got one of the coolest ice cream vans on the street at the time.
Hot Dog Vans
The mini pick-up was also used for hot dog van conversions. Unlike the ice cream pick-ups, the rear window section stayed in place, and a back door was used to let the operator in. Safety reasons might have something to do with that, and the smell.. The hot dog van top also had a more rectangular front.
Apart from that, some topless catering variants were made here and there. The French pancake version is based on a cut-of van.