Bedford Vehicles
Overview
 
Bedford Vehicles, usually shortened to just Bedford, was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

, itself the British subsidiary of General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 (GM), established in 1930; and constructing commercial vehicle
Commercial vehicle
A commercial vehicle is a type of motor vehicle that may be used for transporting goods or passengers. The European Union defines "commercial motor vehicle" as any motorised road vehicle, which by its type of construction and equipment is designed for, and capable of transporting, whether for...

s. Bedford Vehicles was a leading international truck manufacturer, with substantial export sales of light, medium, and heavy trucks throughout the world. It was GM Europe
GM Europe
General Motors Europe AG was responsible for the operation of General Motors Corporation businesses in Europe. The subsidiary was established by GM in 1986 and operated 14 production and assembly facilities in 9 countries, and employed around 54,500 people...

's most profitable venture for several years.
Until 1925, General Motors assembled in Brazil trucks manufactured at their Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 works.
Encyclopedia
Bedford Vehicles, usually shortened to just Bedford, was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

, itself the British subsidiary of General Motors
General Motors
General Motors Company , commonly known as GM, formerly incorporated as General Motors Corporation, is an American multinational automotive corporation headquartered in Detroit, Michigan and the world's second-largest automaker in 2010...

 (GM), established in 1930; and constructing commercial vehicle
Commercial vehicle
A commercial vehicle is a type of motor vehicle that may be used for transporting goods or passengers. The European Union defines "commercial motor vehicle" as any motorised road vehicle, which by its type of construction and equipment is designed for, and capable of transporting, whether for...

s. Bedford Vehicles was a leading international truck manufacturer, with substantial export sales of light, medium, and heavy trucks throughout the world. It was GM Europe
GM Europe
General Motors Europe AG was responsible for the operation of General Motors Corporation businesses in Europe. The subsidiary was established by GM in 1986 and operated 14 production and assembly facilities in 9 countries, and employed around 54,500 people...

's most profitable venture for several years.

History

Until 1925, General Motors assembled in Brazil trucks manufactured at their Canadian
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 works. This enabled them to import vehicles into Britain under Imperial Preference
Imperial Preference
Imperial Preference was a proposed system of reciprocally-levelled tariffs or free trade agreements between the dominions and colonies within the British Empire...

, which favoured products from the British Empire as far as import duties were concerned. Such trucks were marketed as "British Chevrolet". After GM took ownership of Vauxhall Motors, production was transferred from Hendon
Hendon
Hendon is a London suburb situated northwest of Charing Cross.-History:Hendon was historically a civil parish in the county of Middlesex. The manor is described in Domesday , but the name, 'Hendun' meaning 'at the highest hill', is earlier...

 to Luton, Vauxhall's headquarters, production commencing there in 1929.

1930s

The AC and LQ models were produced at Luton
Luton
Luton is a large town and unitary authority of Bedfordshire, England, 30 miles north of London. Luton and its near neighbours, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area with a population of about 250,000....

 from 1929 to 1931, and styled as the "Chevrolet Bedford", taking the name from the county town of Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire
Bedfordshire is a ceremonial county of historic origin in England that forms part of the East of England region.It borders Cambridgeshire to the north-east, Northamptonshire to the north, Buckinghamshire to the west and Hertfordshire to the south-east....

, in which Luton is located. The AC was bodied as a light van (12 cwt
Hundredweight
The hundredweight or centum weight is a unit of mass defined in terms of the pound . The definition used in Britain differs from that used in North America. The two are distinguished by the terms long hundredweight and short hundredweight:* The long hundredweight is defined as 112 lb, which...

), and the LQ in a wide variety of roles, including a lorry, ambulance
Ambulance
An ambulance is a vehicle for transportation of sick or injured people to, from or between places of treatment for an illness or injury, and in some instances will also provide out of hospital medical care to the patient...

, van
Van
A van is a kind of vehicle used for transporting goods or groups of people.In British English usage, it can be either specially designed or based on a saloon or sedan car, the latter type often including derivatives with open backs...

 and bus
Bus
A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-decker bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker buses and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses; coaches are...

 versions. The name "Chevrolet" was dropped, and the first "Bedford" was produced in April 1931. This vehicle, a 2 ton lorry, was virtually indistinguishable from its LQ Chevrolet predecessor, apart from detail styling of the radiator, and was available as the WHG with a 10 in 11 in (3,327.4 mm) wheelbase
Wheelbase
In both road and rail vehicles, the wheelbase is the distance between the centers of the front and rear wheels.- Road :In automobiles, the wheelbase is the horizontal distance between the center of the front wheel and the center of the rear wheel...

, or as the WLG with a longer wheelbase of 13 in 1 in (3,987.8 mm). However, the Chevrolet LQ and AC continued in production alongside the new product for a further year. In August 1931, a bus chassis was added to the range, and was designated WHB and WLB.

A large part of Bedford's original success in breaking into the UK and British Empire markets lay in the overhead valve
Overhead valve
An overhead valve engine, also informally called pushrod engine or I-head engine, is a type of piston engine that places the camshaft within the cylinder block , and uses pushrods or rods to actuate rocker arms above the cylinder...

 (OHV) six cylinder Chevrolet engine, now known as Chevrolet Stove Bolt 6
Chevrolet Straight-6 engine
The Chevrolet inline 6 was Chevy's main engine from 1929 , through 1954, and was the base engine starting in 1955 when they added the small block V8 to the lineup. It had finally been completely phased out by 1990 in North America, but Brazil held on to their fuel-injected straight-6 through the...

 – well ahead of its time, this smooth running inline six cylinder
Cylinder (engine)
A cylinder is the central working part of a reciprocating engine or pump, the space in which a piston travels. Multiple cylinders are commonly arranged side by side in a bank, or engine block, which is typically cast from aluminum or cast iron before receiving precision machine work...

 engine was to form the basis of Bedford and Vauxhall petrol engine
Petrol engine
A petrol engine is an internal combustion engine with spark-ignition, designed to run on petrol and similar volatile fuels....

s almost until the marque ceased building trucks and buses.

In April 1932, a 30 cwt lorry was introduced, together with a 12 cwt light delivery van, designated as the WS and VYC models respectively. Bedford continued to develop its share of the light transport market, with the introduction of the 8 cwt ASYC and ASXC vans, a close derivative of the Vauxhall Light Six car. The AS series of vans continued in production until 1939.

Bedford introduced the 3 ton WT series in November 1933. Again, a short wheelbase WHT (9 in 3 in (2,819.4 mm)), or long wheelbase WLG (13 in 1 in (3,987.8 mm)) version was offered. A change in design of the WLG produced the WTL, with its cab, internal combustion engine
Internal combustion engine
The internal combustion engine is an engine in which the combustion of a fuel occurs with an oxidizer in a combustion chamber. In an internal combustion engine, the expansion of the high-temperature and high -pressure gases produced by combustion apply direct force to some component of the engine...

 and radiator moved forward to allow 14 feet (4.3 m) length in the body. In 1935, the WTB bus version appeared, and the WS and VYC models were updated – the latter being redesignated BYC as it was fitted with the engine and synchromesh gearbox of the Big Six Vauxhall cars. The 5-6 cwt. HC light van was introduced in 1938, based on the Vauxhall Ten car, and the WT and WS acquired a newly styled grill.

Mid 1939 saw a complete revamp of Bedfords; with only the HC van continuing in production. The new range consisted of the K (30-40 cwt), MS and ML (2-3 ton), OS and OL (3-4 ton), and the OS/40 and OL/40 (5 ton) series, and the OB bus. Also on offer was a new 10-12 cwt van, the JC, derived from the new J Model Vauxhall car. Many of the trucks sold by Bedford between June and September 1939 were requisitioned for military use on the outbreak of World War II, many being abandoned after the retreat from Dunkirk, rendered useless to the enemy by removing the engine oil drain plug and running the engine. Because the German armed forces were, in 1940 contrary to their popular image, desperately short of motor transport, many of these captured Bedfords were repaired and pressed into service alongside Opel Blitz (also part of GM) trucks by the German armed forces – although the Bedfords were mainly filling second line roles, including civil defence.

Production of the new range ceased, apart from a few examples made for essential civilian duties, when Bedford went onto a war footing. Production resumed in 1945.

Second World War

In 1935, Bedford began the development of a 15 cwt truck for the British War Office
War Office
The War Office was a department of the British Government, responsible for the administration of the British Army between the 17th century and 1964, when its functions were transferred to the Ministry of Defence...

. This entered service as the MW in 1939, and 65,995 examples had been built by the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1945. The MW appeared in a bewildering range of roles, as a water tanker, general duties truck, personnel carrier, petrol tanker, wireless truck and Anti-Aircraft gun tractor - among others.

The War Office designated 15 cwt vehicles such as the MW as trucks, and larger vehicles as lorries.

The 1939 K-, M-, and O-series lorries were quickly redesigned for military use. This was largely a matter of styling, involving a sloping bonnet with a flat front with headlights incorporated and a crash bar to protect the radiator in a minor collision. The military versions were designated OX and OY series, and again were put to a wide range of tasks, including mobile canteens, tankers, general purpose lorries, and a version with a Tasker semi-trailer used by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

 to transport dismantled or damaged aircraft. This variant was popularly known as the "Queen Mary
Queen Mary trailer
A Queen Mary trailer is a type of semi-trailer combination designed for the carriage and recovery of aircraft.The trailer was made by Tasker Trailers of Andover with Bedford or Crossley Motors tractors....

". A number of Bedford OXD 1.5 ton chassis were converted to make the Bedford OXA
Bedford OXA
The Bedford OXA was improvised British heavy armoured car built during World War II by mounting an armoured body onto a Bedford OXD 1.5 ton truck chassis. 948 units were built in 1940-1941. The vehicle was used by British Home Guard units until 1942....

 armoured vehicle. A total of 72,385 OY and 24,429 OX lorries were built. The Armadillo
Armadillo armoured fighting vehicle
The Armadillo was an extemporised armoured fighting vehicle produced in Britain during the invasion crisis of 1940-1941. Based on a number of standard lorry chassis, it comprised a wooden fighting compartment protected by a layer of gravel and a driver's cab protected by mild steel plates...

 was an OY fitted for airfield defence with Lewis gun
Lewis Gun
The Lewis Gun is a World War I–era light machine gun of American design that was perfected and widely used by the British Empire. It was first used in combat in World War I, and continued in service with a number of armed forces through to the end of the Korean War...

s and an ex-aircraft COW 37 mm gun
COW 37 mm gun
The COW 37 mm gun was a British automatic cannon that was developed as a heavy-calibre aircraft weapon.It was trialled in several installations and specified for the Westland C.O.W. Gun Fighter...

.

Bedford supplied numerous trucks and tanks to the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 during World War II.

A radical departure from Bedford's design norms came in October 1939, with the development of a four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive, 4WD, or 4×4 is a four-wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain that allows all four wheels to receive torque from the engine simultaneously...

, forward control lorry, which entered service in March 1941 as the QL, quickly nicknamed the "Queen Lizzie". As with the MW and OY / OX models, the QL went on to serve in a large number of roles, such as artillery tractor, gun porter, command vehicle, wireless lorry and petrol tanker, as well as the troop-carrying QLD, the most common variant. An experimental version used the track unit of a bren gun carrier, or Universal Carrier
Universal Carrier
The Universal Carrier, also known as the Bren Gun Carrier is a common name describing a family of light armoured tracked vehicles built by Vickers-Armstrong. Produced between 1934 and 1960, the vehicle was used widely by British Commonwealth forces during the Second World War...

, as an answer to the German half-track vehicles, which had superior cross country capacity. Production ran at around 12,000 units per year between 1942 and 1944. Many QLs and other Bedford World War II military vehicles served with the British Army, and other forces into the 1960s, and many others were purchased for civilian use after the war.

After the evacuation of Dunkirk in June 1940, the British Army had around 100 tanks, most of which were obsolete and inferior to the German tanks of the day. Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

 was given one year to design and produce a suitable heavy tank. In May 1941 the Churchill tank
Churchill tank
The Tank, Infantry, Mk IV was a heavy British infantry tank used in the Second World War, best known for its heavy armour, large longitudinal chassis with all-around tracks with multiple bogies, and its use as the basis of many specialist vehicles. It was one of the heaviest Allied tanks of the war...

 went into production, some 5,640 units and 2,000 spare engines being produced at Luton, and other sites under contract to Vauxhall.

Apart from vehicle manufacture during World War II, Vauxhall Motors produced steel helmet
Brodie helmet
The Brodie helmet, called Helmet, steel, Mark I helmet in Britain and the M1917 Helmet in the U.S., was a steel combat helmet designed and patented in 1915 by the Briton John Leopold Brodie...

s, rocket bodies
RP-3
The RP-3 , was a British rocket used in the Second World War. Though primarily an air-to-ground weapon, it saw limited use in other roles. Its 60 lb warhead gave rise to the alternative name of the "60 lb rocket"; the 25 lb solid-shot armour piercing variant was referred to as the "25 lb rocket"...

, and top-secret components for Sir Frank Whittle
Frank Whittle
Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS was a British Royal Air Force engineer officer. He is credited with independently inventing the turbojet engine Air Commodore Sir Frank Whittle, OM, KBE, CB, FRS, Hon FRAeS (1 June 1907 – 9 August 1996) was a British Royal Air...

's jet engine
Jet engine
A jet engine is a reaction engine that discharges a fast moving jet to generate thrust by jet propulsion and in accordance with Newton's laws of motion. This broad definition of jet engines includes turbojets, turbofans, rockets, ramjets, pulse jets...

.

1950s

The HC 5-6 cwt van continued briefly after the war, and the JC 10-12 cwt was fitted with the column gear change; and engine from the Vauxhall L Model Wyvern in late 1948; and became the PC. 1952 saw the launch of the Bedford CA
Bedford CA
The Bedford CA was a distinctive pug-nosed light commercial vehicle produced between 1952 and 1969 by Vauxhall Motors subsidiary Bedford Vehicles, in Luton, United Kingdom....

 light commercial, a range of vans and pick-ups similar in concept and size to (although pre-dating) the Ford Transit
Ford Transit
The Ford Transit is a range of panel vans, minibuses, and pickup trucks, produced by the Ford Motor Company in Europe.The Transit has been the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for 40 years, and in some countries the term "Transit" has passed into common usage as a generic term...

 of 1965. These were semi-forward control, having a short bonnet with the rear of the engine protruding into the cab. Engines were the Vauxhall-based 1508 cc OHV in-line four petrol engine, with the option of a Perkins
Perkins
-People:The name is of Welsh origin from Perthyn, relative or belonging to a particular person or family, and also thought to be the Anglicized form of Peredur, from Medieval Welsh...

 4/99 diesel engine later on. Performance was adequate for the time, a maximum speed of 60 mi/h being attainable with the petrol engine, and offering fuel economy of 25 mpgimp. The van initially featured a three-speed column gearchange, changing later on to a four-speed column change.

The CA was a huge seller both at home and in various overseas markets. The standard panel van was available in short- and long-wheelbase forms, and was also sold as chassis cab / chassis cowl, and became a popular basis for ice-cream vans, ambulances and camper vans. Known affectionately as "the Tilley", the CA enjoyed a very long production span, with only minor tweaks throughout its life, including the replacement of the two piece windscreen of earlier models with a single sheet, Production ended in 1969.

The CA was replaced by the CF
Bedford CF
The Bedford CF was a model of light commercial vehicle produced by Bedford Vehicles for almost twenty years from the late 1960s.In Germany and certain other continental markets, the CF was sold through Opel dealers as the Opel Bedford Blitz from 1973 on....

, a completely unrelated vehicle using new overhead camshaft
Overhead camshaft
Overhead cam valvetrain configurations place the engine camshaft within the cylinder heads, above the combustion chambers, and drive the valves or lifters in a more direct manner compared to overhead valves and pushrods...

 (OHC) engines, which was to have a much harder time proving itself thanks to the Ford Transit.

The 1950s also saw the launch of the popular S type trucks, the so-called Big Bedfords, which brought Bedford into the 7 ton range. The S series was immortalised in RL
Bedford RL
The Bedford RL was the British Military's main medium lorry , built by Bedford Vehicles, from the mid 1950s until the late 1960s.- History :...

 form – a four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive, 4WD, or 4×4 is a four-wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain that allows all four wheels to receive torque from the engine simultaneously...

, high ground clearance version, as the "Green Goddess
Green Goddess
The Green Goddess is the colloquial name for the Bedford RLHZ Self Propelled Pump, a fire engine used originally by the Auxiliary Fire Service , and latterly by the British Armed Forces. These green-painted vehicles were built between 1953 and 1956 for the Auxiliary Fire Service...

" emergency fire tender, managed by the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, and until recently, still used in the event of fire-service industrial action or serious emergencies as of the 21st century. As part of a rationalisation, large quantities of Green Goddesses have, as of 2008, been earmarked for withdrawal, and offered for sale within the private sector. Several have found new homes in African countries that lack a developed fire-fighting service, such as Kenya
Kenya
Kenya , officially known as the Republic of Kenya, is a country in East Africa that lies on the equator, with the Indian Ocean to its south-east...

.

These vehicles were available in rigid and tractor units, with either petrol or diesel engines. The UK military were a huge customer for Bedford RLs using a 4.9 litre straight six petrol engine. Many RLs found their way into the armed forces of Commonwealth
Commonwealth
Commonwealth is a traditional English term for a political community founded for the common good. Historically, it has sometimes been synonymous with "republic."More recently it has been used for fraternal associations of some sovereign nations...

 countries and later into civilian use.

Alongside the S series trucks, the SB bus was released in 1950, and immediately became a big seller in India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, as well as in the UK. The SB chassis was also used as a basis for specialised vehicles, such as mobile libraries, fire engines, and civil defence control units. The largest fleet of SB buses in the world belonged to New Zealand Railways road Services, with 1280 SB buses built between 1954 and 1981.

The Bedford TK
Bedford TK
The Bedford TK is a truck that was produced by the Vauxhall Motors-owned Bedford Vehicles company.-History and use:The TK range replaced the S type in 1959, and served as the basis for a variety of derivatives, including fire engines, military, horse boxes, tippers, flatbed trucks, and other...

 range replaced the S type in 1959, but the RL continued in production until 1969, when it was replaced by the M type, which used the basic cab of the TK and the mechanicals of the RL with minimal changes.

The pre-war K, M and O types continued in production alongside the heavier S types until 1953. Vauxhall had already gone for a transatlantic styling with its E Model Wyvern and Velox saloons, and Bedford followed suit with its mid-range of trucks in 1953. Designated as the TA series, the new range were mechanically very similar to their predecessors, but featured a new Chevrolet-inspired cab. The 'T' designation meant "truck", so the range is generally referred to as the A series. Numbers 2, 3, 4 and 5; as in A2, etc, identified the weight rating. A factory-fitted Perkins
Perkins
-People:The name is of Welsh origin from Perthyn, relative or belonging to a particular person or family, and also thought to be the Anglicized form of Peredur, from Medieval Welsh...

 diesel engine was an option. The TA (A) series was updated in 1957, and became the TJ, or J series. The C series of 1957 was a forward-control derivative of the S series, and outwardly very similar to it.

1960s and 1970s

The Bedford TK
Bedford TK
The Bedford TK is a truck that was produced by the Vauxhall Motors-owned Bedford Vehicles company.-History and use:The TK range replaced the S type in 1959, and served as the basis for a variety of derivatives, including fire engines, military, horse boxes, tippers, flatbed trucks, and other...

 range was produced in large numbers since 1959, and served as the basis for a variety of derivatives including fire engines
Fire apparatus
A fire apparatus, fire engine, fire truck, or fire appliance is a vehicle designed to assist in fighting fires by transporting firefighters to the scene and providing them with access to the fire, along with water or other equipment...

, military vehicles, horse-boxes, tippers, flat-bed trucks, and other specialist utility vehicle
Utility vehicle
Utility vehicle is used to describe a vehicle, generally motorized, that is designed for a specific task.-Sport utility vehicle:Vehicles similar to a station wagon but built on a light-truck chassis, usually with off-road capability....

s. A British Post Office (later British Telecom) version used for installing telegraph poles was known as the "Polecat". The British Armed Forces
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

 still use four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive
Four-wheel drive, 4WD, or 4×4 is a four-wheeled vehicle with a drivetrain that allows all four wheels to receive torque from the engine simultaneously...

 Bedford MKs — a variant of the TK.

Available with four- and six cylinder petrol and diesel engines, the TK was the quintessential light truck in the UK through most of the 1960s and 1970s, competing with the similar Ford D series. It was available in rigid form, and also as a light tractor unit, normally using the Scammel coupling form of trailer attachment.

The Bedford KM was a similar vehicle, using the same cab, but with a slightly restyled front end, and was marketed for heavier-duty applications than the TK, i.e. 16 tons and over. Many developing countries still use ageing Bedfords every day, their robust nature and simple engineering endearing them as highly useful vehicles in demanding terrain.

In 1967, a Bedford SB3 chassis with Plaxton
Plaxton
Plaxton is a builder of bus and coach vehicle bodies based in Scarborough, England.-History:The Plaxton of today is the successor to a business founded in Scarborough in 1907 by Frederick William Plaxton.-Beginnings:...

's Panorama cab was used in the build of seven custom mobile cinema
Mobile cinema
A mobile cinema is a cinema on wheels.An example is the Screen machine Mobile Cinema of Scotland, which provides conventional up-to-date 35mm screenings of recent movies, with full digital surround sound, air conditioning, comfortable raked seating, and full disabled access...

 units that toured British factories for the Ministry of Technology to 'raise standards'. The body was custom fabricated from extruded aluminium by Coventry Steel Caravans. One of these units remains in preservation, and is to be used as a vintage mobile cinema.

The smaller Bedford CF
Bedford CF
The Bedford CF was a model of light commercial vehicle produced by Bedford Vehicles for almost twenty years from the late 1960s.In Germany and certain other continental markets, the CF was sold through Opel dealers as the Opel Bedford Blitz from 1973 on....

 was less successful, competing directly with the market-dominating Ford Transit
Ford Transit
The Ford Transit is a range of panel vans, minibuses, and pickup trucks, produced by the Ford Motor Company in Europe.The Transit has been the best-selling light commercial vehicle in Europe for 40 years, and in some countries the term "Transit" has passed into common usage as a generic term...

, although used by many of Britain's major utility companies, including British Telecom and British Gas plc
British Gas plc
British Gas plc was formerly the monopoly gas supplier and is a private sector in the United Kingdom.- History :In the early 1900s the gas market in the United Kingdom was mainly run by county councils and small private firms...

. The CF was however much less popular with fleet operators than the Transit, which was seen as cheaper to operate and maintain, and more popular with its drivers. Part of the reason for the CF's relative unpopularity was the use of the slant 4 SOHC petrol engine from the FD and FE Vauxhall Victor - which was notoriously rough running, had high fuel consumption, and was susceptible to cam belt breakage. However the CF became very popular as a base of special bodied ice cream vans and mobile shops. The later CF2 used the more reliable Opel Ascona engine.

Bedford's smallest products, car-derived vans
Sedan delivery
A sedan delivery, commonly called a delivery in American English and a car derived van in British English, is a two-door station wagon with a driver or driver and front passenger seats, and steel sheet-metal panels in place of rear side windows...

, were the Bedford HA
Bedford HA
The Bedford HA was a car derived van introduced in 1963 by the Vauxhall Motors subsidiary Bedford Vehicles, based on the Vauxhall Viva family car...

 van, which substantially outlived the Vauxhall Viva HA
Vauxhall Viva
The Viva was a small family car produced by Vauxhall Motors in a succession of three versions between 1963 and 1979. These were known as the HA, the HB and the HC series....

 on which it was based, and the Bedford Chevanne
Bedford Chevanne
The Bedford Chevanne was a small commercial vehicle produced by General Motors and built in the United Kingdom. It was based on the GM T platform Vauxhall Chevette estate, however unlike the Chevette it had a flat rear floor, no rear seats and panels in place of the side windows.A similar T-Car...

, a short-lived variant of the Vauxhall Chevette
Vauxhall Chevette
The Chevette was a supermini model of car manufactured by Vauxhall in the UK from 1975 to 1984. It was Vauxhall's version of the family of small "T-Cars" from Vauxhall's parent General Motors ; the family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in...

. An estate conversion of the HA van by Martin Walter
Martin Walter
Martin Walter is a , Czech-born German professional ice hockey defenceman. He is currently playing for Thomas Sabo Ice Tigers in the Deutsche Eishockey Liga .-External links:...

 was marketed as the Bedford Beagle
Bedford Beagle
The Bedford Beagle was an estate car conversion of the Bedford HA 8cwt van, which itself was based on the Vauxhall Viva HA. The conversions were undertaken by Martin Walter Ltd in Folkestone, Kent, most famous for Dormobile campers. Whilst the vans were very common at one time, the Beagle was...

. This was further developed into a camper van, the Roma, again by Martin Walter.

The company also made a number of bus chassis, its low price catering for the cheaper end of the coach market.

1980s

The TK range was joined and eventually largely replaced by a number of models: the TL range most directly replaced the TK, beginning in the early 1980s. It was never as popular as the model range it succeeded. The Bedford TM was the largest of all the modern Bedfords, with payload
Cargo
Cargo is goods or produce transported, generally for commercial gain, by ship, aircraft, train, van or truck. In modern times, containers are used in most intermodal long-haul cargo transport.-Marine:...

s available up to 42 tonne
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

s GTW
GTW
GTW may refer to:* The rail company Grand Trunk Western Railroad* The IATA code for Holešov Airport* The station code for the Gatwick Airport railway station* The NYSE code for computer manufacturer Gateway...

 permissible.

A major blow came when Bedford failed to win the UK Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

 contract to produce the standard 4 ton 4x4 GS (general service) truck for the British forces, although the Bedford candidate had performed equally in extensive test to the Leyland (later Leyland-DAF) candidate, and the British Army expressed a preference to continue the trusted relationship with Bedford trucks.

The reasons for this decision were seen by many as political, as the Army 4 tonner contract was seen by the Thatcher government as essential for the long term survival of Leyland, and the formation of Leyland-DAF. The implications of the decision were also noted by GM in Detroit, who had already been refused permission to buy the Land-Rover division of British Leyland, which they had intended to operate in tandem with the Bedford Truck division as major force a military and civilian 4x4 market.

In addition to this devastating blow, by the middle of the decade, cheaper and more technologically advanced competition from other truck manufacturers overseas, and a general contraction of the truck market proved too much, and Bedford withdrew from the heavy vehicle sector.

From there on in Bedford concentrated on smaller light commercials only with the CF model, and finally the Bedford Midi — later to be called the Vauxhall Midi.

Isuzu and IBC

In 1986, the Bedford van factory in Luton
Luton
Luton is a large town and unitary authority of Bedfordshire, England, 30 miles north of London. Luton and its near neighbours, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area with a population of about 250,000....

 was reorganised as a joint venture
Joint venture
A joint venture is a business agreement in which parties agree to develop, for a finite time, a new entity and new assets by contributing equity. They exercise control over the enterprise and consequently share revenues, expenses and assets...

 with Isuzu
Isuzu
, is a Japanese car, commercial vehicle and heavy truck manufacturing company, headquartered in Tokyo. In 2005, Isuzu became the world's largest manufacturer of medium to heavy duty trucks. It has assembly and manufacturing plants in the Japanese city of Fujisawa, as well as in the prefectures...

. The resulting company, IBC Vehicles (Isuzu Bedford Company Ltd), produced a Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an version of the Isuzu MU Wizard
Isuzu MU Wizard
The Isuzu Wizard is a mid-size SUV that was produced by the Japan-based manufacturer Isuzu. The five-door Wizard was introduced in 1990 after the three-door Isuzu MU from 1989, both of which ceased production in 2004...

 called the Frontera, and a range of Renault
Renault
Renault S.A. is a French automaker producing cars, vans, and in the past, autorail vehicles, trucks, tractors, vans and also buses/coaches. Its alliance with Nissan makes it the world's third largest automaker...

-designed vans sold under the Vauxhall
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

 and Opel
Opel
Adam Opel AG, generally shortened to Opel, is a German automobile company founded by Adam Opel in 1862. Opel has been building automobiles since 1899, and became an Aktiengesellschaft in 1929...

 brand names. The Bedford name was dropped completely, as were all of its preceding range apart from the Midi, which was sold for a few years as the Bedford Seta.

In 1998, GM bought Isuzu out of the IBC partnership. The plant now operates as GMM Luton
GMM Luton
GM Manufacturing Luton ltd is a British vehicle manufacturer and a subsidiary of General Motors UK Limited. It currently produces light commercial vehicles under the Vauxhall, Renault, Nissan and Opel marques.-History:...

, and produces the Vauxhall / Opel Vivaro
Opel Vivaro
The Opel Vivaro is a medium-sized light commercial vehicle produced by the German automaker Opel, and sold under the Opel brand in most of Europe, but under the Vauxhall brand in the United Kingdom. It was originally launched in 2001, and is available in panel van, minibus, combined bus/van and...

, Renault Trafic
Renault Trafic
The current Trafic resulted from a joint venture between German Opel, Japanese Nissan and French Renault. It is also sold as an Opel Vivaro, Vauxhall Vivaro and by Nissan as the Primastar....

 and Nissan Primastar
Nissan Primastar
The Nissan PrimaStar is a medium commercial vehicle originally launched in 2001, and is available in panel van, combi, bus and chassis cab configurations. Two wheelbases and two roof heights are available, as well as three diesel engines and a petrol. The vehicle resulted from a joint venture...

.

David John Bowes Brown and AWD

The Bedford trucks site in Dunstable and business was sold in 1987 to AWD Ltd, a company owned by David John Bowes Brown. The AWD name was used as GM would only allow the use of the Bedford name for military trucks. David John Bowes Brown was the designer in 1973 of the then DJB D250 Articulated Dump Truck, built in Peterlee
Peterlee
Peterlee is a new town in County Durham, England. Founded in 1948, Peterlee town originally mostly housed coal miners and their families.Peterlee has strong economic and community ties with Sunderland and Hartlepool.-Peterlee:...

, England, by DJB Engineering Ltd. DJB was renamed Artix in 1985 when the trucks were rebadged as Caterpillar. Artix itself was sold to Caterpillar in 1996.

AWD continued with the TL and TM range. The AWD Bedford TK (a rebadged and modernised version of the Bedford TK / MK range) was also produced and supplied to the British military
British Armed Forces
The British Armed Forces are the armed forces of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.Also known as Her Majesty's Armed Forces and sometimes legally the Armed Forces of the Crown, the British Armed Forces encompasses three professional uniformed services, the Royal Navy, the...

. Due to cheaper competition and the virtual collapse of the UK market in which AWD competed in 1989/90, the company went into receivership in 1992 and was bought by dealer network Marshall of Cambridge.

There remain around 7,000 Bedford and AWD vehicles in service with the British military.

Logo

Bedford used the Griffin
Griffin
The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle...

 logo of Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors
Vauxhall Motors is a British automotive company owned by General Motors and headquartered in Luton. It was founded in 1857 as a pump and marine engine manufacturer, began manufacturing cars in 1903 and was acquired by GM in 1925. It has been the second-largest selling car brand in the UK for...

, derived from the heraldic crest of Fulk le Briante, who was granted the Manor
Lord of the Manor
The Lordship of a Manor is recognised today in England and Wales as a form of property and one of three elements of a manor that may exist separately or be combined and may be held in moieties...

 of Luton
Luton
Luton is a large town and unitary authority of Bedfordshire, England, 30 miles north of London. Luton and its near neighbours, Dunstable and Houghton Regis, form the Luton/Dunstable Urban Area with a population of about 250,000....

 by King John. By marriage, he acquired property in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

, known as Fulk's Hall, which over time, came to be the locality of Vauxhall
Vauxhall
-Demography:Many Vauxhall residents live in social housing. There are several gentrified areas, and areas of terraced townhouses on streets such as Fentiman Road and Heyford Avenue have higher property values in the private market, however by far the most common type of housing stock within...

, the original home of Vauxhall Motors. The griffin returned to Luton in 1903 when Vauxhall Motors moved there.

Bedford models

Very approximately in size order
  • Bedford Rascal
    Bedford Rascal
    The Bedford Rascal , also built as the Suzuki Supercarry is a microvan that was developed as a joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki. It was sold under GM's British-based Bedford marque as well as in Suzuki form...

  • Bedford HA
    Bedford HA
    The Bedford HA was a car derived van introduced in 1963 by the Vauxhall Motors subsidiary Bedford Vehicles, based on the Vauxhall Viva family car...

     (based on Vauxhall Viva
    Vauxhall Viva
    The Viva was a small family car produced by Vauxhall Motors in a succession of three versions between 1963 and 1979. These were known as the HA, the HB and the HC series....

    )
  • Bedford Beagle
    Bedford Beagle
    The Bedford Beagle was an estate car conversion of the Bedford HA 8cwt van, which itself was based on the Vauxhall Viva HA. The conversions were undertaken by Martin Walter Ltd in Folkestone, Kent, most famous for Dormobile campers. Whilst the vans were very common at one time, the Beagle was...

     (estate
    Station wagon
    A station wagon is a body style variant of a sedan/saloon with its roof extended rearward over a shared passenger/cargo volume with access at the back via a third or fifth door , instead of a trunk lid...

     version of HA; see Vauxhall Viva, above)
  • Bedford Chevanne
    Bedford Chevanne
    The Bedford Chevanne was a small commercial vehicle produced by General Motors and built in the United Kingdom. It was based on the GM T platform Vauxhall Chevette estate, however unlike the Chevette it had a flat rear floor, no rear seats and panels in place of the side windows.A similar T-Car...

     (based on Vauxhall Chevette
    Vauxhall Chevette
    The Chevette was a supermini model of car manufactured by Vauxhall in the UK from 1975 to 1984. It was Vauxhall's version of the family of small "T-Cars" from Vauxhall's parent General Motors ; the family included the Opel Kadett in Germany, the Isuzu Gemini in Japan, the Holden Gemini in...

    )
  • Bedford Astra (based on Vauxhall Astra
    Vauxhall Astra
    Astra is a model name which has been used by Vauxhall, the British subsidiary of General Motors , on their small family car ranges since 1979. Astras are technically essentially identical with similar vehicles offered by GM's German subsidiary Opel in most other European countries...

     Mk 1 then Mk2 estate)
  • Bedford Astramax (high-cube version of Mk2 Astra shape)
  • Bedford Midi
  • Bedford Brava
  • Bedford CA
    Bedford CA
    The Bedford CA was a distinctive pug-nosed light commercial vehicle produced between 1952 and 1969 by Vauxhall Motors subsidiary Bedford Vehicles, in Luton, United Kingdom....

  • Bedford CF
    Bedford CF
    The Bedford CF was a model of light commercial vehicle produced by Bedford Vehicles for almost twenty years from the late 1960s.In Germany and certain other continental markets, the CF was sold through Opel dealers as the Opel Bedford Blitz from 1973 on....

    • Bedford CF 4x4
    • Bedford Blitz
    • Bedford Dormobile
      Bedford Dormobile
      The Bedford Dormobile is a 1960s-era campervan conversion, based on the Bedford CA van, and subsequently on the Bedford CF. It was manufactured in Folkestone in Kent, southern England, by Martin Walter....

  • Bedford MW
  • Bedford W series
  • Bedford K series
  • Bedford M series
    Bedford M series
    The Bedford M series was a commercial vehicle chassis, the first variants of which were made in 1939. It is a normal control 4-wheel chassis designed to carry loads of 2-3 tons...

  • Bedford O series
  • Bedford A series
  • Bedford D series
    Bedford D series
    The Bedford D Series was a model of commercial vehicle produced by Bedford Vehicles in the late 1950s....

  • Bedford S series
  • Bedford ML (bus)
  • Bedford OB
    Bedford OB
    The Bedford OB model was a bus or coach chassis introduced in 1939.The OB has a wheelbase of , and is a semi-forward control model, designed to carry 26 to 29-passenger bodywork....

     (bus)
  • Bedford JJL
    Bedford JJL
    The Bedford JJL was an innovative but ultimately unsuccessful bus model built by Bedford Vehicles. The JJL could have been a success, but was ahead of its time in predicting the boom in the midibus market, as seen by the success of the Dennis Dart....

     (bus)
  • Bedford SB
    Bedford SB
    The Bedford SB was a front-engined bus chassis built by Bedford Vehicles in the United Kingdom. It was launched at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show as the replacement for the Bedford OB....

     (bus)
  • Bedford VAS (bus)
  • Bedford RL
    Bedford RL
    The Bedford RL was the British Military's main medium lorry , built by Bedford Vehicles, from the mid 1950s until the late 1960s.- History :...

  • Bedford TK
    Bedford TK
    The Bedford TK is a truck that was produced by the Vauxhall Motors-owned Bedford Vehicles company.-History and use:The TK range replaced the S type in 1959, and served as the basis for a variety of derivatives, including fire engines, military, horse boxes, tippers, flatbed trucks, and other...

  • Bedford TJ
    Bedford TJ
    The Bedford TJ is a truck that was produced by the Vauxhall-owned Bedford company.-History:The Bedford TJ was first manufactured in 1958 and was an updated version of the TD range. The TJ was available in the United Kingdom up until 1975, after 1975 it was manufactured only for export...

  • Bedford TL
  • Bedford MK
  • Bedford MJ
  • Bedford KM
  • Bedford VAL
    Bedford VAL
    The Bedford VAL was a type of coach chassis built by Bedford Vehicles in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. It was unusual at the time for its multi-axle design, in a "chinese six" wheelplan, i.e. with two front steering axles....

     (bus)
  • Bedford VAM (bus)
  • Bedford Y series (buses)(vertical mid-engine)
    • Eight metres
      • YMP/S
    • Ten metres
      • YRQ
      • YLQ
      • YMQ
      • YMP
    • Eleven metres
      • YRT
      • YMT
      • YNT
    • Twelve metres
      • YNV Venturer
  • Bedford TM
    Bedford TM
    The Bedford TM was a heavy goods vehicle constructed by Bedford Vehicles, the British arm of General Motors' commercial vehicle division, between 1974 and 1986. Up until the TM, Bedford had been building mostly low-specification short haul distribution trucks, such as the Bedford TK and KM...

    • Bedford TM 4x4

Vauxhall models

(some also sold as Opels and other GM brands)
  • Vauxhall Midi
  • Vauxhall Astramax
    Vauxhall Astramax
    The Opel Kadett Combo was a small panel van based on the Opel Kadett E.It was introduced in January 1986 and finished production in the summer of 1994...

  • Vauxhall Brava
  • Vauxhall Rascal (a rebadged Bedford Rascal
    Bedford Rascal
    The Bedford Rascal , also built as the Suzuki Supercarry is a microvan that was developed as a joint venture between General Motors and Suzuki. It was sold under GM's British-based Bedford marque as well as in Suzuki form...

    )
  • Vauxhall Frontera (a 4x4 SUV)
  • Vauxhall Vivaro
    Opel Vivaro
    The Opel Vivaro is a medium-sized light commercial vehicle produced by the German automaker Opel, and sold under the Opel brand in most of Europe, but under the Vauxhall brand in the United Kingdom. It was originally launched in 2001, and is available in panel van, minibus, combined bus/van and...


Renault models

  • Renault Trafic
    Renault Trafic
    The current Trafic resulted from a joint venture between German Opel, Japanese Nissan and French Renault. It is also sold as an Opel Vivaro, Vauxhall Vivaro and by Nissan as the Primastar....

     (platform-sharing version of Vauxhall and Opel Vivaro
    Opel Vivaro
    The Opel Vivaro is a medium-sized light commercial vehicle produced by the German automaker Opel, and sold under the Opel brand in most of Europe, but under the Vauxhall brand in the United Kingdom. It was originally launched in 2001, and is available in panel van, minibus, combined bus/van and...

    , also sold as Nissan Primastar
    Nissan Primastar
    The Nissan PrimaStar is a medium commercial vehicle originally launched in 2001, and is available in panel van, combi, bus and chassis cab configurations. Two wheelbases and two roof heights are available, as well as three diesel engines and a petrol. The vehicle resulted from a joint venture...

    )

External links

General

CA-specific

CF-specific

Midi-specific
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