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A guide to types of vans

  • Double-cab, curtainside, beavertail - we explain all
  • One-stop shop for potential new van owners
  • Easy-to-understand guide for all van variants

Beavertail – Also known as dovetail, the beavertail is a popular flat-bed truck used for transporting other vehicles.

Box van – A van with a cuboid-shaped load area.

Car derived van – A van based on the design of a car, for example a Ford Fiesta.

Chassis cab – The most basic van you can buy, a chassis cab comes with a cab and an open ladder chassis ready to be converted into a tipper, dropside or box van.

Conversion van – A van modified by a third party company. For instance a van converted for use as an ice cream van.

Crew van – A van with an extra row of seats so it can carry more crew.

Curtainside – A van with a roof and curtain sides made from canvas, which can be pulled back to facilitate easy loading.

Double cab – A van with two rows of seats for more crew-carrying capacity.

Dropside – These have shallow sides which drop down for easy access and an open top. Most commonly used in the building and gardening industries.

Flatbed – Commonly used for loads requiring a crane, a flatbed has no sides or roof.

Four-wheel-drive – A van with all four wheels driven by the engine to help with traction.

Livestock – A van build to transport live animals, usually for farming activities.

Luton van – A van with a box style, but extending over the cab for even more load space. Popular with removal firms.

LWB (Long Wheel-Base) – The wheelbase is the distance between the middle of the front wheel and the middle of the rear wheel.

MWB (medium wheel-base) – The wheelbase is the distance between the middle of the front wheel and the middle of the rear wheel.

Microvan – A small van with a box-like body and more often than not a large board at the back.

Minibus – A van converted into a minibus for passengers.

Panel van – A van with a rigid, non-articulated body. A wide range of sizes and shapes are available, and this is the most popular type of van on UK roads.

Pick up – A vehicle specifically designed with a pick-up load area at the back and either a single or double cab.

Single cab – A van with one row of seats, carrying up to three crew members.

Straight truck – A permanently-attached tractor and van combination.

SWB (Short Wheel-Base) - The wheelbase is the distance between the middle of the front wheel and the middle of the rear wheel.

Tanker – A truck built exclusively to carry fluid materials.

Temperature-controllled – A vehicle with a temperature-controlled atmosphere in the load area, designed for transporting chilled foodstuffs or similar.

Tipper – Similar to a dropside van, a tipper has a hydraulic ram which pushes the front of the load area up, ‘tipping’ the load onto the floor behind the van.

Vehicle transporter – A van built specifically to transport other vehicles.