CC Outtake: 1966 Bedford CA Ice Cream Van – The Sun Always Shines in England


The sun came out in England last weekend, and of course—and quite rightly—this was followed by the ice cream vans. Excellent, on so many levels!

This 1966 Bedford CA is typical of the ice cream vans used in Britain since the 1950s.


The CA was first launched in 1952 and was in production until 1969. It was powered by a 1.5 or 1.6 litre four cylinder petrol engine or a 1.7 litre Perkins diesel as seen here, mounted longitudinally under the snub bonnet and stretching backwards between the driver and the passenger. The gearbox was either 3 or 4 speed with column change. Wheelbase was 90 or 102 inches (this is the longer wheelbase version). Front suspension, interestingly for 1952, was independent with wishbones, something not offered in the Ford Transit until the 1980s. Rear suspension was the usual leaf springs. Braking was by drums all round.


The original 1952 was significantly revised in 1964, gaining larger a windscreen and door windows, a more modern front grille, and various mechanical improvements.


The ice cream cabin (the really cool part of this van of course) is a product of one of several specialist coach builders and features all the usual characteristics you’d expect. More than likely, this van left Bedford’s production line in Luton as a chassis-cowl, and everything aft of the bonnet is from the coach builder. The engine in this example is actually a 3.4 litre diesel; I’m not sure whether this was original or a later change. Bear in mind that in this application, the engine spends as much time as a generator as anything else, so usage may well be measured in hours, not miles.

The CA and the later CF always played a supporting role to the Ford Transit and the BMC/BLMC vans, and didn’t achieve huge international success. Some made their way into traditional British export markets, however.

The motor museum in the background is the Cotswold Motor Museum, in the village of Bourton-on-the-Water, in Gloucestershire–worth a visit for some good quality British nostalgia.


Me? Mint chocolate chip please!

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