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Homepage. This page: Contemporary photographs of Bedford's twin-steer VAL coaches of the early/mid 1960s.

Harrington-bodied Bedford VAL.

One of the most distinctive British coach chassis of the 1960s was the Bedford VAL, with its twin-steer front axle arrangements. This page will grow to feature a number of period photographs of these rare Bedford coaches, a type perhaps most often associated with the film The Italian Job. In that film, a Bedford VAL (minus its seating) did a good job of collecting, hauling - and then disposing of - three Mini Coopers in the Alps, before going off the road. The final scenes in the film see the coach teetering on the edge of a mountain pass. The film star VAL was fitted with Harrington Legionnaire coachwork, as is the coach that features in the first two photographs on this page, both kindly sent over by David Aston.
The coach was purchased new in 1964 by his family's firm, Aston's Coaches, for the sum of 5,000 or thereabouts he remembers. It remained in the fleet for just a few years before being sold on. The fate of AWD 217B isn't known, while the VAL used in The Italian Job is believed to have been chopped up in the 1990s - surely a short-sighted move by someone?
The first of David's photographs is a side-on view of their Bedford VAL, as it pulls out of a parking area alongside The Black Horse Inn public house. The twin-steer axles are clearly visible in this shot.
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
Side view of Bedford VAL coach
The second photo of AWD 217B is a superb view of the distinctive 1960's coach, with David's father stood to the right, inspecting the immaculate Bedford.
Bedford VAL Harrington Legionnaire
Between 1963 and 1966, some 900+ VAL14 chassis were produced, powered by the Leyland O.400 straight-six engine. This was followed by the VAL70, powered by Bedford's own engine of 466 cubic inches. The example above, chassis number 1430, was fitted with body number Hn2998, to body configuration C52F. It was delivered new in June 1964.
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