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Bedford RL and Other Taff Ramblings.

Bedford RL and Other Taff Ramblings.

For many years Bedford was the biggest-selling brand among UK commercial vehicle manufacturers, yet it does not exist today. It is hard to understand how General Motors, the brand owners, could let this leading marque fade away from the market and eventually disappear completely. Bedford vehicles originally came from the same stem as Hendon-assembled Chevrolet trucks, production of which transferred to the Vauxhall factory in Luton, along with many GM Hendon staff. The Chevrolets were popular with UK buyers, but their all-British Bedford descendants proved to be even bigger sellers. In only eight years from the launch of the new brand to the outbreak of war in 1939, Bedford became a dominant force in commercial vehicle sales in Britain and overseas. After the Second World War, in which Vauxhall and Bedford made an enormous contribution to the effort, new products were continually developed. Great designs, from the ubiquitous OB buses and CA vans to the S-type Big Bedfords, and their RL 4x4 military versions led on to such iconic vehicles as the TK lorries and VAL buses.

All commercial vehicle manufacturers struggled through a difficult period in the 1970s and a worldwide sales slump in the early 1980s, but Bedford seemed to suffer more than most. Their lightweight coaches stopped selling, and a military truck contract was lost. When their ambitious plan to turn Bedford into a narrowly-focused specialist 4x4 range had to be abandoned, General Motors apparently had no 'Plan B'. They sold the ageing truck range and the Dunstable factory to AWD, but retained the Bedford brand. Without a broad range of trucks and buses carrying the Bedford badge, however, the name was meaningless when attached to a range of Japanese-designed light vans, which were re-badged as Vauxhalls. The story of the meteoric rise of the Bedford brand is told in Auto Review AR106 Bedford Album by Rod Ward, along with its eventual sad demise. Click here for AR106 (Low stocks)

 

I often reflect on my own contribution to the demise in British manufacturing. Oxford was the last high volume UK producer of diecast vehicles; I made the decision to close that factory in the year 2000. At that time I was truly swimming against the tide and my health was not at its best. I often reflect and wonder what would have happened if I had kept that factory open. I followed my head not my heart, that factory was based in Neath, not far from Swansea. I would still argue today that it was one of the most efficient manufacturing units of diecast vehicles. I would take my daughters horse-riding at 9am each Saturday morning, then we would head off to the factory to check out the production and make sure the machines were still working. We would enter the factory, turn the lights on, there would be components in boxes and trays that had been filled overnight – there were no staff overseeing the production – it was a ‘lights out’ manufacturing facility.

Sometimes on entering the factory we would be disappointed as the red light would be flashing above the Cincinnati 80T injection moulding machine, it was electric and ahead of its time, but contaminated regrind would block the nozzle. It was here as just a 9 year old that Eloise would help me unblock the nozzle. We would draw back the screw, heat up the nozzle and use whatever we could to unblock the feed. Sometimes it could take an hour.

Injection Moulding Machine

 Injection Moulding Process

We would then reset the mould and if I was desperate for the components, we would replace the plastic granules removing all the regrind to give us a 100% chance of running through until Sunday afternoon. I can hear you all asking what would happen when the plastic granules ran out on the Sunday afternoon – the answer is that I would make any excuse I could to visit the factory, I would tell the family I was going swimming to unwind !

Will manufacturing of diecast vehicles ever return to the UK, years ago I would have said no, now I am not so sure. What is important is that we keep developing the engineering talent in the UK, then when the time is right the move can be made.

But enough of my ramblings, the point of this blog is the Oxford Diecast RL which was built by Bedford from the 1950’s/60’s. It was based on the Bedford S Type, which was the civilian offering.

Bedford Truck Brochure

I guess I can't miss the opportunity here of recalling my own childhood and nothing could be better than the Corgi Carrimore (C1101) a truly heavy model, made in times when adding a bit more zinc just made it a whole lot better.

Corgi Carrimore - Bedford

Oxford has covered its predecessor the Bedford QL and many years ago we released the Green Goddess, whose design is based on the RL.

Over 70,000 RL’s were manufactured with the last rolling off the production line in the early 1970s.

The first Oxford release is RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue livery. 

 76RL001 Bedford RL RAF Kinloss Mountain Rescue

The above being available in October 2022 76RL001

The second livery available late 2022 is the 76RL002 Bedford RL58 Company RASC Cyprus.

Bedford RL 58 Company RASC Cyprus

First shots showing some additional parts.

Oxford Diecast Bedford RL first shots.

Design Cell for 76RL001

Oxford Diecast 76RL001 Bedford Design Cell

 

 That all for now I think it time for TT.

 

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Martyn Pring - January 24, 2023

Would love to see some of these Bedford product ideas translated into 1:43 scale which would go down an absolute cracker with the O gauge model railway guys. Whatever happened to Bedford trucks is so indicative of other British commercial vehicle marques disappearing off the industrial landscape. Another truck brand fondly remembered is ERF. I was working for government agency Energy Saving Trust where I was head of marketing and communication managing the then early sustainable transport campaigns which included pump-priming CNG truck development. It was a sad day when the Middlewich factory closed in 2002, and then subsequently discontinued as a marque by owner MAN in 2007. But then ERF would be a legendary die cast truck opportunity for Oxford’s as well. Martyn

Peter Thompson - December 26, 2022

Hi Taff
How about a 1957 STANDARD COMPANION I bought one SWR 157 in 1962 from the garage where I worked and passed my test in it.
I ran it for 3 years then bought a mini the Standard was a great car and never let me down.
I have a lot of your Vauxhall HB Viva Astra and vectra models.
Keep up the good work.
All the best and a happy new year
Regards
Peter

Robin Butler - November 16, 2022

PS if you do a 1933 Hillman Minx the registration was JG 3169
In anticipation
Robin

Robin Butler - November 16, 2022

Hi, I loved Lord Roy Wells comment about early 20s and 30s cars i am still looking for a model of ‘ 1933 Hillman Minx ‘ of which I learnt to drive in and pass my test in 1958 and drove until I got married in 1964 it was a black hillman as the majority cars in that year,
Regards still hoping Robin

LORD ROY WELLS - November 14, 2022

THIS TRUCK LOOKS GOOD TO ME, BUT AT LEAST YOU MADE IT! SO NOW HOW ABOUT US CAR COLLECTORS, I HAVE ASKED BEFORE HOW ABOUT MORE 20s 30s MOTORS. NOT MODEL “T” FORDS, BUT “C” ,"Y"s MORRIS "8"s YOUR AUSTIN “7” ARE A DELIGHT IN BOTH SCALES. AS I, LIKE MANY OLDER DRIVERS LEARNT TO DRIVE A “7” I HAVE A SORT SPOT FOR THEM (MINE WAS 1929) FEEL MOTORS FROM THE 30s WOULD BE POPULAR WITH US OLD FXXXS THE TRAIN COLLECTORS IN THE STEAM ERA WOULD LOVE THEM ON THE STATION FORECOURT. WELL WE CAN ONLY HOPE.

Gareth Gruffydd - November 14, 2022

Prynhawn da Taff,
As another North Walian I look forward to seeing many other versions of the Bedford RL to complement other models from my early years.
Gareth

David Edwards - November 14, 2022

Bora dda Taff, I really would love to see you doing a series of the RL,
I was a crash rescue fireman (Aircraft Handling Branch of the Fleet Air Arm NB. we were called firemen then,) during the middle to end of 1960’s and early 70’s mainly at RNAS Brawdy down in your neck of the woods. we had multiple variety’s of the RL bowsers including the the HCB firefly. I know that there are quite a few of my old shipmates would be interested in collecting them. How about the RN version of the 6X6 Nubian with the monitor head operators position separate on the back like the 4X4 version and the
mark 7 6X6 plus the RN Rescue Landrover 4×4 short wheel base. Typical North Walean I go on and on and on
all the best looking forward to all your new series, PS we also had a 1941 QL runway control van on our books had to keep it in top (3rd) by driving with big boot on the stick

Robert Peters - November 13, 2022

army[ CYPRUS] VERSION was still in service in 1972 as RCT 58 SQUADRON IT WAS USED FOR GT DUTIES ie SUPPLYING U.N.OUT POSTS

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