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Homepage. This page: Photographs and a brief account of the restoration of a fine British Bedford lorry from the early 1930s.

John's Bedford WHG lorry restoration.

News of a super Bedford lorry restoration arrived via email, from the proud owner/restorer himself. Bedfords large and small have long been collected by commercial vehicle enthusiasts, although pre-war examples such as this one are quite scarce. The commercial vehicle in question is a rare Bedford WHG 2 ton recovery truck (or 'wrecker' as they were often known), dating to 1933. The first photograph shows the Bedford in as-purchased condition, fitted with its Manley wrecking crane, and still looking well but obviously needing work to make it into a show lorry in John's eyes. He has restored a number of classic commercials over the last few years, so knows what he's talking about! Fortunately the Bedford has retained its original registration too, AKP 213, always good to see.

Bedford lorry before restoration
The next photo shows the restoration, mid-way through, with the body and cab removed, exposing the chassis in order that it too could be restored from stem to stern. The truck was re-assembled and re-painted in green, as before.

Bedford truck chassis
John adds, in March 2008: "Thanks for returning the email regarding my Bedford. I bought it 10 months ago and did a total restoration nut-and-bolt job on it .Now I'm retired I have a lot of time. Having said that, over the last 30 years I have restored 12 commercials. Anyway, my little Bedford, I have been told, has taken part on the London to Brighton run, c1979-ish ,and the Bedford Golden Jubilee at Luton in 1981, apparently it had Smylie James Transport on the doors, although these must have been stick-on letters as there was no sign of them when I bought it."

In May John emailed me the final photographs of the Bedford, showing the finished vehicle, complete with signwriting on the rear body and cab doors. Some of the history of this great commercial is known to John, although I'm sure he'd be interested to find out more of its past, earlier owners, and so on:

"The Bedford's history as I know it: Mr Barry Metcalf bought it from a Jaguar garage in Eastbourne in 1965 for 25 pounds. He ran it for 3 years and sold it to an unknown bloke, he just drove it away. Barry sent me 2 black and white photos of it. I got this info after I put an ad in Classic & Vintage Commercial magazine, in the Info Wanted section .A friend of mine, Ken Berkett (who's Bedford WTH already appears on oldclassiccar as it happens!), sent me 2 photos he took of my WHG - one at Battersea park in 1979, and one at the Bedford Golden Jubilee in 1981at Luton. It then had Smylie James Transport on the doors. I think it was sold in an auction and all info was lost due to a death. I bought it off a chap who had owned it for 10 years, in that time it was not taken out much, he lived in Wolverhampton. I think it was run on trade plates in the early years."

Classic Bedford WHG lorry
Thanks again to John for sending me a number of photographs to place on the website, I'm always keen to feature classic lorries & trucks on here, so if you have a similar story to tell, please drop me a line. More owners' stories can be found in the Your Classics section here at oldclassiccar. A close look at John's Bedford reveals a circular Bedford Drivers Club badge, mounted in front of the radiator. The BDC organisation is explained in detail on this page, within the motoring collectables section. Some vintage photographs of a pre-war Bedford cattle lorry, similar to John's example, can be found here. Several early Bedfords also feature in the vintage photos section, including, for instance, this post-war Bedford lorry belonging to Rhodes Brothers of Manchester.

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