Lombard Express boss Andy Dawkins hit upon the perfect way in which to mark his company’s Silver Anniversary – he invested in a very special tractor unit bearing the silver star of Mercedes-Benz, whose trucks have been the backbone of his fleet since its early days.
The Kettering-based operator’s limited edition Actros1 arrived, together with another seven rigid curtainsiders, via the Wellingborough headquarters of Dealer Intercounty Truck & Van.
Lombard Express acquired its Actros1 with funding support from Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, with which it has also signed a contract hire agreement covering its latest rigids. The six 18-tonne Antos 1824s and a single 7.5-tonne Atego 818 have ClassicSpace day cabs and curtainside bodies by Kurt Hobbs Coachworks, of Great Addington, near Kettering.
The 6x2 Actros1 represents the ultimate in premium exclusivity, as no more than 100 examples are being built. A plaque in its luxuriously appointed and comprehensively equipped GigaSpace cab confirms that the Lombard Express unit is the twelfth chassis in the line – “And 12 is my lucky number!” declared a delighted Andy Dawkins.
Stunning in silver and black with striking green highlights – on other Actros1s the same vivid hue contrasts with all-black paintwork – the Lombard Express vehicle proudly bears a ’25 years’ laurel leaf motif above its colour-coded and chrome-trimmed grille, illuminated Mercedes-Benz star and personalised registration plate.
Like all Actros1s the truck’s appearance is further enhanced by painted side guards and catwalks, Alcoa Dura-Bright alloy wheels (wider than standard at the front) with painted hubs, roof-mounted air horns, Bi-xenon headlamps, and LED daytime running and tail lights. To these, Lombard Express has added Kelsa light bars, top and bottom.
Customers can choose from two, state-of-the-art straight-six engines. Mr Dawkins has opted for the top-rated 15.6-litre, OM 473 LA with mighty 460 kW (625 hp) output. Alternatively, customers can specify the second-generation 12.8-litre OM 471 LA rated at 390 kW (530 hp), which offers outstanding economy.
If Actros1’s stunning good looks and StyleLine interior design mean its appeal to the heart is beyond dispute, this is a truck that also appeals to the heads of cost-conscious operators for whom the sums must add up at the end of each month.
To further increase fuel-efficiency Actros1 is equipped with the well-proven Predictive Powertrain Control system. This employs digital 3D mapping and GPS data to scan the road ahead, managing gear changes and vehicle speed, and making full use of the truck’s EcoRoll function, to restrict diesel consumption and CO2 emissions. Lombard Express’s new flagship is additionally fitted with a self-adjusting, roof-mounted air deflector and collar by Kuda Automotive.
Like all Actros tractor units, the limited-edition model comes with Fleetboard telematics hardware as standard. It also showcases Mercedes-Benz Trucks’ leadership in the fields of safety and aftersales support – a full complement of active and passive aids includes the remarkable Active Brake Assist 4 emergency braking system with ground-breaking pedestrian recognition capability, while revolutionary Mercedes-Benz Uptime sensors monitor the condition of the vehicle constantly, so the customer’s allocated Dealer knows precisely what is required before the truck reaches the workshop.
A full fleet of Mercedes-Benz Vehicles
Lombard Express operates a fleet of 18 trucks, half of them tractor units, and a couple of vans, every one of which wears a three-pointed star. A member since 2004 of TPN (The Pallet Network), the company is double-shifting its Actros1 – the vehicle is assigned to local deliveries in and around Northamptonshire during the day, and trunks each night to the TPN hub at Minworth, near Sutton Coldfield.
Managing Director Mr Dawkins tried a 460 kW (625 hp) demonstrator supplied by Intercounty Truck & Van for a week, before ordering his Actros1. “Pulling a double-deck trailer on the run to and from Birmingham it averaged 9.5 mpg, which was pretty good going,” he recalled.
Lombard Express has allocated the new vehicle to two of its best performing drivers – long-serving Neil Goodman is at the wheel during the day, before Paul Tallon takes over for the night shift.
“Not only does the Actros1 look fantastic, but it also offers unrivalled driver appeal,” continued Mr Dawkins. “It’s our way of rewarding a couple of highly valued employees for consistently returning excellent fuel figures, and for looking after our vehicles as though they were their own.”
He and wife Denise founded their business in 1992, with a single van. Their first truck was a 7.5-tonne Mercedes-Benz 814 – “That vehicle ran for ever,” said Mr Dawkins, “and we’ve remained loyal to the brand ever since.
“Our Mercedes-Benz trucks have always been exceptionally reliable and cost-effective to operate, while we also benefit from Intercounty Truck & Van’s customer-focused back-up – the Dealer’s Service team are very accommodating and can always be relied upon to get us into the workshop at short notice if we need them to.”
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