Atkinson » 640/740/1060/1260/1580 MkI (1935)
Atkinson started mass producing trucks from 1935. Following the Pagefield connection and the chance meeting of an Atkinson representative with the driver of an elderly Albion fitted with one of the new Gardner LW engines. Other regular Atkinson features were Kirkstall axles, Hardy Spicer propshafts and David Brown four- or five-speed gearboxes. Production centered around 6- and 7-ton four-wheelers, ten- and twelve-ton six-wheelers, and from 1937 ten-ton Chinese six-wheelers and fifteen-ton eight wheelers.
This was very simple in style, and a system that in its basics, lasted from 1933-75 consisting of a number for weight (initially estimated payload, but after 1968 maximum gross vehicle or gross-train weight) then a second number for wheels and then the number of cylinders. Thus an Atkinson 646 would have been a 6-ton payload 4x2 wagon with four wheels and a Gardner 6LW engine. A 1066A would have had a ten-ton payload, to 6x4 layout and an AEC (seven-seven) power plant.
Far from being held back by wartime problems, Atkinson really began to thrive. The Ministry of Supply in 1940 permitted only it and ERF to make six-wheelers for civilian purposes. The first order to Atkinson was for sixty 6LW powered six-wheelers. Then a year later one hundred more were orders with AEC engines. Finally one hundred eight-wheelers with AEC engines were ordered. War-time Atkinsons had blackout masks and white painted extremities to improve close-up visibility. Components shortages after the War resulted in Atkinson building its own five-speed gearboxes. Otherwise the mix was much as before. Styling had changed very little.