A late spring Saturday, unseasonably warm, even hot. The choice was the chores or exercising the MX-5 with the roof down and a picnic in the boot. A old railway line turned into footpath/cyclepath/bridleway in rural Suffolk, an hour away, seemed a good bet. Seems like we made the right choice.
In the small market town of Clare, we saw this 1949 Bedford OB coach, still being used for private hire for weekend trips, weddings and the like around the area.
It is owned, and has been since it was sold into preservation in 1975, by a localfamily owned coach and local bus service business.
The Bedford OB first came out as bus and coach chassis in 1939, and after war time production for military and municipal use and predominantly with simpler bodywork, series civilian production ran to 1951.
Mechanically, this was a perfectly conventional product. It had a 4.9 litre petrol engine, a four speed gearbox and semi-elliptic springs all round. There were servo assisted drum brakes, a cruising speed of 40 mph and a distinctive whine from the gearbox.
The most common body was the Duple Vista, as seen here, co-developed with Bedford, though other bodies were available. Many were also exported, often just as a chassis, and there is strong OB community in Australia for example.
In total some 17,000 were produced, and there are estimated to be around 200 still in existence, perhaps half of them on the road.
This shot is from the 75th anniversary at the former Vauxhall-Bedford proving ground at Millbrook, north of Luton.
If you haven’t got a red convertible, not a bad way to travel around Suffolk!