01 May 2016
# 3133

 
Owned by
"Bedfordman"
Bolter # 39888
United Kingdom
 

 

1950's Bedford R Long Wheelbase 4x4 4-Ton

"Big Bedford"

 

More pictures of my old truck

Join the discussion about this truck

 

From Bedfordman :

Been an occasional browser of the site for a few years - not a Stovebolt owner, but a longtime Bedford owner and enthusiast.

If you don't already know, Bedford is the Brit equivalent of Chevrolet trucks, GM built as well and you'd be surprised how similar they are, particularly the normal control models.

Our Big Bedford is an R type (RL) 4-ton 4x4 with the 300 cu in straight six petrol, 4 speed gearbox, 2 speed transfer box (2wd high range, 4wd low range) and hypoid axles, 152" wheelbase on 11.00 x 20 tyres (singles rear), air over hydraulic brakes. We've also got a J type ambulance on the 30 cwt chassis with the 214 petrol engine.

An ulterior motive, in the shape of a late '40s COE I have to do some work on, has finally kicked me into signing up, but now I have joined I'll be here for more than just that -- so hello all from the UK!

So about the Bedford...

Well, I guess you know GM took over Vauxhall in the UK and Opel in Germany very early - 1925 for Vauxhall and 1929 for Opel, if I remember right.

After GM bought Vauxhall, they started importing Chevrolet 2 and 3 ton trucks - I think as kits to be assembled in Britain - and selling them as "British Bedford." After the first few years, they started building British designed trucks, just called Bedford.

If you want more to read, "Bedfordman" scanned two documents that are worth checking out:

"You See Them Everywhere"

A 50 page history of the Bedford issued by Vauxhall Motors Limited, Luton, England. This booklet was first published October 1978 to mark the appearance of the 3 millionth Bedford commercial vehicle produced since April 1931. This booklet has a whole lot of some very cool, very old pictures of some very big and unique trucks and buses! (Just my opinion ~ Editor)

 

"Tough, Reliable, Economical"
Bedford Commercial Vehicles since 1931

This Bedford TJ Series brochure was published by Bedford Commercial Vehicles, Luton, England also. It was fairly late on in the production run, when the Bedfords were only available for export. It's got some good shots of the oily bits, for comparison with the US 'Bolts, some cool details and pictures.

The first British designed range was the W type, built from 1931 to 1939, 2 and 3 ton, and at first very similar to the Chevrolet. They were revised in the mid '30s when a short bonnet semi-forward control version was introduced. Known as the "27 hp" as the RAC horsepower rating of the straight six engine was 27 hp.

In 1939 these trucks were replaced by the 28 RAC hp (214 cu in) K, M and O type.

The K type was single rear wheel 30 cwt normal control. The M type was 2-ton twin wheel (duals). The O type was 3 to 5 ton semi-forward control duals, all in long or short wheelbase.

There were very popular trucks, and an austerity version with a square front was built in huge numbers for the military during WW2. Still many of them are about in preservation.

In 1950 the forward control (cabover) 5 to 7 ton S type, known as the "Big Bedford," was introduced. Same cab as our four wheel drive R type in the picture. The R type came out in 1952. The S and R type had a 300 cubic inch straight six petrol and later a Perkins R6 diesel, then finally Bedford's own diesel of 300 (later 330) cubic inch.

In 1953 the K, M, and O types were replaced with the A type normal control, which looked very like the AD Chevrolet and was probably as close as Bedford came to a direct copy of the Chevrolet design. The A type was replaced in 1957 with the D type, again very AD looking, and Bedford introduced a small cabover called the C type.

In 1959 all these were replaced with the cabover (in fact, cab forward) TK range and the normal control TJ (or J type) range. Lots of flavours - anything from 1 ton to 7 tons (TJ) or 30 cwt to about 18 tons (24 tons gross) (TK, KM), in many different wheelbases, with 214 cu in or 300 cu in petrol engines or 200 (later 220) cu in, 300 (later 330), the Leyland 400 cu in, and 466 (later 500) cu in diesels.

In 1974 Bedford introduced the TM range heavy trucks for 16 to 44 tonnes gross, using the 500 cu in diesel or Detroit 6V-71 2 stroke.

Bedford also made a lot of specialist chassis -- they were very big in bus, coach and ambulance chassis, and specialist (particularly 4x4 and 6x6) vehicles for the military. A lot of Bedfords are still in military service today.

The Bedford name was also used for light and car based vans built by Bedford, Vauxhall and Isuzu (GM Japan).

The "Green Goddess" that Jockbolter posted in the discussion thread, more properly known as the Self Propelled Pump, was built on S type and R type chassis for the Home Office Auxiliary Fire Service, a government run national fire service held in reserve during the cold war in case of national emergencies. Many civil fire services also had fire appliances of all types built on Bedford chassis.

GM sold Bedford to AWD in 1988. Unfortunately, they didn't make a success of it and they went bust in 1992, in part because GM hadn't invested in Bedford in the '70s and early '80s. By the time AWD took over, the trucks were out of date and it was too late to catch up.

Although the development lines separated, there's a lot of common GM family design and parts in Bedfords. You'd be amazed how similar they are particularly to the AD, and how much like a Stovebolt the 28 hp, 214 and 300 engines look.

Opel also built their own, similar truck range known as the "Blitz" but I don't think they ever got into bigger trucks. They stopped building commercials in 1975. Hindustan in India built Bedfords under licence for many years. I don't know that Holden in Australia ever built trucks of any size. For the most part where GM wanted to market trucks in other countries, they tended to export Bedfords. As a result, Bedfords were common in Europe, the Middle East, Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India and Pakistan. In fact, their slogan for a while was "You see them everywhere." Another slogan was "The truck for a 50% overload" which you'd never get away with these days!

Like your NAPCO conversions, a lot of companies did all wheel drive and other conversions of Bedfords, including AWD (All Wheel Drive), Reynolds-Boughton, Armstrong-Vickers-Onions and others.

 

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