I saw this obviously imported van in the yard at Bert’s Two Guys and a Dog Garage, and went back later to check it out:
The rear view has a better clue, that little silver tag on the door says Bedford. It’s a model CA panel van from Britain.
The Bedford CA van was built in the UK from 1952 to 1969, and were apparently very common on British streets. They were also sold in Canada from 1957-1963, and it’s the first one I’ve ever seen. Since this example has a one piece windscreen I’ll say early 60’s. It’s actually supposed to look like this.
Not a lithe or graceful machine by any stretch, you may wonder why they’d bother to bring these over. As I’ve said before, it’s difficult to fully appreciate the cultural sway that Great Britain had over Canada in the 1950s.
Here’s a simple little cabin for the passengers, looks like a column shift with the signal light selector on the dash. I like the rusty spot on the wheel well where the passenger’s feet wore the paint away. We’ll see why later.
Looking back all the major bits seem to be present and stored inside.
Nothing rusts like British steel, the lack of deep corrosion makes me suspect that this example came from Western Canada, either the dry prairies or the formerly oh so British city of Victoria BC.
I didn’t notice this until I was preparing the post, but look how far offset the engine is to give the driver some foot room. No wonder the paint is worn off the passenger wheel well.
There’s a few new fasteners visible here, someone was doing a bit of work on it. That’s apparently a 1.5 liter overhead valve four with all of 52hp, and it’s always good to have a hand crank fitting on a vehicle with Lucas electrics.
The original hand lettering was obviously sanded off some time ago, but from the right side we can see that it once said;
PLUMBING – HEATING
SHEET METAL – ELECTRICAL
That’s a lot of activity for such a small van. The name on the front and sliding side doors is a bit tougher. I think it says XX Brown Ltd. but I can’t make out the initials.
So why did Bedford last only through 1963 in Canada, whereas the CA soldiered on until 1969 in the UK? For one thing, British influence was beginning to wane in the 1960’s. One other clue to Bedford’s demise in Canada is that the company was part of GM.
The Chevrolet Sport Van came out in 1964 and I can imagine that it would undermine enthusiasm for selling a quirky small van that had to be shipped from overseas to a limited market. The CA certainly wasn’t going to fly in America, look how quirky and small worked out for the Corvair Greenbrier.
I enjoyed looking this van ove;, it’s British-ness revived fond memories of my lamentable TR4 project. Hopefully someone will take on this fairly solid project, like it says on the side all it needs is a little plumbing, heating, sheet metal and electrical. 🙂