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Homepage. This page: A selection of period photographs, all featuring the 1940s' Bedford PC van.

Bedford PC van.

Bedford PCs, whether as panel vans, estate cars or utes, appear in various locations across this site. This page features original photographs of PC vans, and derivatives of the British-built van, from the late 1940s. The standard British Bedford vans are quite different from the Australian-bodied PC (Holden) vans, built up from kits exported to Australia from the UK.

1. Stockport Corporation PC van.

The first photograph features a 1950 PC van in the livery of Stockport Corporation Water Works division, registration EDB 156. The van has had windows added to the rear body sides, although they don't look like Utilecon windows to me, an example of which can be found further down this page. I think it is probably a factory-offered Utilavan, of which more below. Note the single windscreen wiper. A larger Bedford O-Series tipper lorry can be seen in the background, along with a chap in a flat cap monitoring proceedings, while enjoying his pipe.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Bedford PC van

2. North Worcestershire Garage.

Three super old Bedfords are in the next photograph, all in the signwritten livery of North Worcestershire Garage, of Stourbridge. Evidently this company was a dealer in Vauxhall cars, and Bedford trucks and vans. To the left is a 10cwt Bedford PC van, while in the centre is a twin-wheeled Bedford breakdown/recovery lorry. To the right is a circa 1947 Bedford HC van, identifiable from the JC and PC thanks to a shorter rear body (evident by the distance between the door and rear wheelarch), and also the slightly lower roofline. Both the PC and HC have "777" in their registrations. A better photo of the 5/6cwt van can be found on the HC van page.
Bedford PC van

3. PC Ambulance.

Photographed in Northallerton, this next image sees three Bedford PC "Utilecon" Ambulances (by Martin Walter) parked outside a garage. Visible registrations are HAJ 109 (Yorkshire, 1951) and GVN 111(1950/1951). The style of inset rear side windows is typical of Martin Walter conversions, note the extra spotlamp fitted to each Ambulance's offside windscreen pillar, roof lightbox, large spotlamp, and the bell fitted above the bumper.
Bedford's own catalogue of November 1949 also includes reference to an ambulance version, known as the "Utilavan" Ambulance. The Utilavan was available as an estate car, or as an ambulance. It looked similar to the M-W conversions shown below, although had different windows, with much narrower gap between the two panes on each side. Tinted windows were fitted to both the rear sides, and both back doors.
Bedford PC Ambulance

4. Newspaper van.

Last in this series of photographs is a view of KCD 810, a late-1949 10cwt PC van in the livery of the Brighton and Hove Herald newspaper, of Pavilion Gardens, Brighton. What a shame these are black and white photos!
Newspaper delivery van

More information on the PC van.

The illustrations below show the differences between the Australian (Holden) PC van, and its British counterpart.
British-built Bedford PC panel van
The PC was the latest in a series of vans offered by Bedford in the late 1930s, and in the years following WW2 prior to the launch of the CA. The 6/8cwt HC van started the ball rolling in 1938, and provided the basis for the larger JC which would later, through a series of evolutionary rather than revolutionary updates (such as a switch to column rather than floor gearchange, and the adoption of 12 volt electrics instead of 6 volt), become the PC.
The engine under the PC's bonnet was the same 1442cc four-cylinder unit as also used to power the contemporary L-Type Vauxhall Wyvern saloon. Rated at 12HP (RAC), it produced 33bhp (net) at 3,400 rpm, driving the rear wheels via a three-speed, column change gearbox. Lockheed hydraulic brakes were fitted, as were 17" wheels. Carburetion was by Zenith 30VIG-5 carburettor. The van measured 14ft 2 3/8in long, and 5ft 7.5in wide.
Magazine "The Commercial Motor" achieved 39.2mpg at an average speed of 28.8mph during a roadtest of a Bedford PC, with a 1,232lb load on board at the time. Although by no means a new model in the late 1940s, Bedford was still sufficiently proud of this model to make reference to their "good-looking van with shapely lines, smart frontal appearance and neat finish".
All vans lead a hard life, and few survive into gentle retirement. For some reason Bedford PC vans seem to be very few and far between, and rarely turn up either for sale or on the rally field, which is a shame. Parts for PC Bedfords occasionally turn up on the PC page, within the classifieds section of this site.
Return to Page 14 in the classic & vintage vehicle photo gallery.

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