Basic and noisy...but Bedford OBs just kept going
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General Motors UK initially built Chevrolet light trucks and buses for the UK market but in 1931, GM UK launched the Bedford range of local light trucks and buses heavily based on the existing Chevrolet chassis. Bedford’s origins date back to Vauxhall Ironworks, a company set up at Vauxhall, London in 1857 by Scottish engineer Alexander Wilson. Vauxhall moved to Luton, Bedfordshire in 1905 and was bought by American giant General Motors in 1925.
There is no known documentation as to why General Motors Vauxhall chose Bedford as the name of its new UK commercial vehicle brand, but it was most likely because of the location of Vauxhall’s Luton plant in the county of Bedfordshire, in the east of England.
The Bedford OB was designed as a successor to the 1930s Bedford WTB. The first Bedford OB was built in 1939 but stayed in production for only 2 months, with just 73 being built, when all of Bedford’s production was turned over to the war effort.
During the war years, in addition to truck production, Bedford produced 3,398 OWBs along with 5,640 Churchill tanks. The Bedford OWB was a war time austerity version of the Bedford OB combined with bodies that were even more austere. Bodies were designed by Duple and built by Duple along with other coach builders, to Duple’s design.
Post war production of Bedfords restarted in October 1945. Bedford built 12,693 post war OBs in the UK with ‘O’ series production finally ceasing in 1953.
Unlike Australia where Bedford OBs were the most popular choice for private city route service operators, UK production catered for regional commuter service and charter operators. Bedford itself collaborated with Duple to develop the ‘Vista’ coach body for the Bedford OB chassis.
Although General Motors-Holden Australia sold complete Bedford OBs as forward control (flat front) buses from 1947, other Australian bus body builders such as Syd Wood and Grice, initially built bodies on Bedford OB chassis’ with conventional layout, as was done with this example in 1946. This practice was curtailed with the arrival of the General Motors designed body on the Bedford OB chassis.
Our 1946 Bedford OB with Grice body originally operated in Toowoomba, QLD until the mid 1970s. It was subsequently acquired by John Masterton, a bus enthusiast and owner of Bellarine Bus Lines with John then completing a superb restoration. Driver Classics purchased the Bedford OB from the Masterton family in July 2000.
This Bedford OB is powered by a Bedford 214ci, 6 cylinder, petrol engine with a 4 speed constant mesh transmission. Bedford’s OB model designation signifies ‘O’ as the model series and ‘B’ for bus.
1930 Pontiac 29-6
1946 Bedford OB
1947 Bedford OB
1948 GM PD 4151
1948 White 798-12
1954 Flxible Clipper
1959 Bedford SB3
1961 GM PD-4106
1968 GMC PD 4107
1972 MCI MC7
1976 MCI MC8
1983 GM Denning
1988 Denning Landseer
1989 Eagle Model 20
1977 Kenworth W925
1986 Kenworth W925
1950 Dodge Pick Up
1962 Ford Thunderbird
1968 Ford Fairlane