This "Shetland" 3/4 scale delivery van, modeled after the 1929 Morris Minor, was manufactured by Asquith Motor Carriage Company Ltd. exclusively for Department 56 Inc.The " Shetland" was shipped in pieces from the U.K. to the U.S. for final assembly. The Van was then equipped with a new Suzuki GEO engine and a 5-speed transmission, replacing the 800cc Renault engine and drivetrain that was standard equipment from Asquith Motors. The 57HP Suzuki power plant would allow for the Asquith to do over the 55 mph speed limit.The final U.S. assembly took more than 3 months because of the many custom parts needed to fit its unique size.
Originally, based in Great Yeldham in Essex, Asquith Motor Carriage Company Ltd., employed 30 full-time craftsmen who hand-built just over 1000 vehicles from 1981 to 1997. Most of the vehicles built were full-size buses and taxis. In 2003, Simon Rhodes purchased all manufacturing rights and formed Asquith Motor Company Ltd. According to Mr. Rhodes, only around 100 "Shetland" models were produced and this is likely the only one shipped to the U.S. from the factory.
This van was used as a promotional vehicle for Department 56, being transported to different stores across the country. It was also the model for the hand painted porcelain miniature "Village Express Van" which is part of the Heritage Village Collection of Department 56. When the founder of Department 56, Edward Bazinet sold his interest in the company, he kept the van in his own collection.
The van's interior features burl walnut panels, mahogany windshield frame and deep-buttoned black leather seats, all of which complement the exterior detailed painting, gold-leaf lettering and outstanding craftsmanship.