This page is from wikipedia for the basic history of Bedford, and needs relinking for tractor wiki and the truck sections expanding with photo's.
Bedford grill and bonnet badges IMG 1898

Bedford Grill Badge and Logo

Bedford Vehicles
Fate Sold and renamed
Successor AWD Trucks
GMM Luton
Founded 1930
Defunct 1986
Headquarters Luton, United Kingdom
Area served Worldwide
Industry Automotive
Products Trucks, buses,
car-derived vans
Parent Vauxhall Motors
Bedford VGY 184 horse box Sandbach

A Bedford with Horse Box body at Sandbach Transport Festival 2008

Bedford was a subsidiary of Vauxhall Motors, itself the United Kingdom subsidiary of General Motors (GM), established in 1930 and constructing commercial vehicles.


Bedford was a leading international truck manufacturer with substantial export sales of light medium and heavy trucks throughout the world. It was GM Europe's most profitable venture for several years.[citation (source) needed]

Prior to 1925, General Motors assembled in Brazil trucks that manufactured at their Canadian factories. This enabled them to import vehicles into Britain under Imperial Preference, 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 to Luton, Vauxhall's headquarters, with production commencing there in 1929.


Bedford Truck reg 669 LUG - NMM - IMG 2802

A restored Bedford truck with timber dropside body

The AC and LQ Models were produced at Luton from 1929 to 1931, and styled as the "Chevrolet Bedford", taking the name from the County Seat of Bedfordshire, in which Luton is located. The AC was bodied as a light van (12cwt.)and the LQ in a wide variety of roles, including a lorry, ambulance, van and bus 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 10ft 11in wheelbase or as the WLG with a longer (13ft 1in) wheelbase. 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.

In April 1932, a 15cwt 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 8cwt 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 (9ft 3in)WTH or long wheelbase (13ft 1in) WLG version was offered. A change in design of the WLG produced the WTL, with its cab, engine and radiator moved forward to allow 14 ft 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 (30-40cwt), MS and ML (2-3ton) OS and OL (3-4 ton)and the OS/40 and OL/40 (5 ton)series. 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.

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 WarEdit

In 1935 Bedford began the development of a 15cwt truck for the British War Office. This entered service as the MW in 1939 and 65995 examples had been built by the end of World War II 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 to transport dismantled aircraft. This variant was popularly known as the "Queen Mary". A number of Bedford OXD 1.5 ton chassis were converted to make the Bedford OXA armoured vehicle. A total of 72385 OY and 24429 OX lorries were built. Bedford supplied numerous trucks and tanks to the Soviet Union during World War II.

A radical departure from Bedford's design norms came in October 1939 with the development of a four-wheel drive, 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, as an answer to the German halftrack vehicles which had superior cross country capacity. Production ran at around 12000 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 was given one year to design and produce a suitable heavy tank. In May 1941 the Churchill tank went into production, some 5640 units and 2000 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 helmets, rocket bodies and top-secret components for Sir Frank Whittle's Jet engine.


Bedford LYA 258 tipper with Perkins engine -P7270168

A restored Perkins engined Bedford tipper

Bedford truck reg RD 8361 (pre war) at NMM - IMG 2819

A pre war Bedford truck reg no. RD 8361

Bedford flatbed truck KSK 703 perkins engine at NMM - IMG 2824

A Bedford Flat bed medium truck from the ? fitted with Perkins engine

Bedford reg KYE 185 at Donnington Park 09 - IMG 6104small

A restored Bedford truck type ? at Donnington Park CV show in 2009

The HC 5-6cwt van continued briefly after the war, and the JC 10-12cwt 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 light commercial, a range of vans and pick-ups similar in concept and size to (although pre-dating) the Ford Transit 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) with the option of a Perkins 4/99 diesel engine later on. Performance was adequate for the time, a maximum speed of 60 mph (97 km/h) being attainable with the petrol engine and offering fuel economy of 25 mpg-imp (11 L/100 km/21 mpg-US). The van initially featured a 3-speed column gearchange, changing later on to a 4 speed.

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. 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 Bedford CF, a completely unrelated vehicle using new 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 Bedford S series trucks,the so-called Big Bedfords which brought Bedford into the 7 ton range. The S Series was immortalised in Bedford RL form (a four-wheel drive, high ground clearance version) as the "Green Goddess" emergency fire tender, managed by the British Army 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.[1]

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 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 and Africa, as well as in the U.K. The SB chassis was also used as a basis for specialised vehicles such as mobile libraries, fire engines and civil defence control units.


Bedford SB bus

Bedford TK reg JUM 797V Field Marshall tractor at NMM - IMG 2844

A Bedford TK flatbed with a Field Marshall tractor load

Bedford TKEdit

The Bedford TK 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 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 1970sEdit

The Bedford TK range was produced in large numbers since 1959 and served as the basis for a variety of derivatives including fire engines, military vehicles, horse-boxes, tippers, flat-bed trucks and other specialist utility vehicles. A British Post Office (later British Telecom) version used for installing telegraph poles became known as the "Pole King". The British Armed Forces still use four-wheel drive Bedford MKs — a variant of the TK.

Available with 4 and 6 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 Scammell 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 third world countries still use ageing Bedfords every day, their robust nature and simple engineering endearing them as highly useful vehicles in demanding terrain.

The smaller Bedford CF was also successful, competing directly with the Ford Transit and being used by many of Britain's major utility companies including British Telecom and British Gas.

Bedford's smallest products were the Bedford HA van, which substantially outlived the Vauxhall Viva HA on which it was based, and the Bedford Chevanne, a short-lived variant of the Vauxhall Chevette. An estate conversion of the HA van by Martin Walter was marketed as the Beagle. 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 to the cheaper end of the coach market.

But, in Argentina, the operations of Bedford are owned by General Motors Argentina. Between 1960 to 1968, made engines, trucks and buses under the Bedford make. The models of the Bedford J type are the J6[2] and the J4[3]. About the engines, since 1968 to 1978, was made in the factory of San Martín for the further and more newer Chevrolet medium-duty trucks of the C-Series.

Bedford TLEdit

Bedford TL of 1986 at Donnington Park 09 - IMG 6088small

A Bedford TL from 1986 at the Donnington Park CV show in 2009

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 payloads available up to 42 tonnes GTW permissible. However, by the middle of the decade, cheaper and more technologically advanced competition from other truck manufacturers overseas proved too much and Bedford withdrew from the heavy vehicle market.

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

Isuzu and IBCEdit

In 1986 the Bedford van factory in Luton was reorganised as a joint venture with Isuzu. The resulting company, IBC Vehicles, produced a European version of the Isuzu MU Wizard called the Frontera and a range of Renault-designed vans sold under GM's Vauxhall and Opel brand names. The Bedford name was dropped completely as were all of its preceding range apart from the Midi.

In 1998 GM bought Isuzu out of the IBC partnership.[4] The plant now operates as GMM Luton, and produces the Vauxhall / Opel Vivaro, Renault Trafic and Nissan Primastar.[5]

David J. Brown and AWDEdit

The Bedford Trucks site was sold to David J. Brown (entrepreneur) in 1987 and the new truck business was named AWD Trucks. David J. Brown was the designer of the Caterpillar D250 Articulated dump truck built in Peterlee, England by DJB Engineering Ltd (later called Artix).[6] Artix was sold to Caterpillar in 1996.

AWD continued with the TL and TM range. The AWD TK (a rebadged and modernised version of the Bedford TK / MK range) was also produced and supplied to the British Military. Due to cheaper competition, AWD Trucks went bankrupt in 1992 and was bought by dealer network Marshall of Cambridge. There remain around 7000 Bedford and AWD vehicles in service with the British military.[citation (source) needed]


Bedford used the Griffin logo of Vauxhall Motors, derived from the heraldic crest of Fulk le Briante, who was granted the Manor of Luton by King John. By marriage he acquired property in London, known as Fulk's Hall, which over time came to be the locality of Vauxhall, the original home of Vauxhall Motors. The griffin returned to Luton in 1903 when Vauxhall Motors moved there.

Argentine Production/SalesEdit

GM Bedford Diesel ad 2
GM Bedford Diesel ad

In Argentina, GM produced and marketed engines under the GM-Bedford and Bedford brands.


Bedford Scammell and stepframe trailer at Donnington 09 - IMG 6187small

A fine example of a restored Bedford Scammell tractor unit and step frame trailer at the Donnington Park CV show in 2009

Bedford TM tractor unit EHA 360K at Donington 09 - IMG 6113small

A Bedford TM artic unit at the Donington Park CV show in 2009

Bedford Bus reg DJD 217 at Boroughbridge CV 09 - IMG 8915

A restored Bedford Bus at the Boroughbridge Classic Vehicle show in 2009

Bedford S type NYV 632 at Woolpit 09 - IMG 1442

A Bedford S type at the Woolpit Steam rally 2009

List of products produced at Bedford / IBC Vehicles Luton.[7]

Bedford modelsEdit

Very approximately in size order

Vauxhall models (some also sold as Opels and other GM brands)Edit

Renault modelsEdit

  • Renault Trafic (platform-sharing version of Vauxhall & Opel Vivaro, also sold as Nissan Primastar)

Preservation MachinesEdit

  • Various Bedford trucks are on the preservation circuit with a number of the ex military trucks and Fire engines to be seen at the Rallies and commercial vehicle gatherings around the country.

List of preserved Examples to go here:-


See alsoEdit


Base article from Wikipedia.

External linksEdit

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