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Uncle Joe's stories about cars and motoring

Fun with a CA Bedford

"Uncle Joe", a name used to protect the innocent (and not-so-innocent,) has kindly volunteered his own motorcar and motorcycle memories. A series of stories will be featured here at oldclassiccar, all of which are true, based on the vehicles that Joe has owned, or worked on, over the years.



This particular tale revolves around a Bedford CA Camper van, or Caravanette, in which Joe & friends shared some experiences...

If you have similar stories that you'd be willing to share with the world, I'd be happy to feature them here too, using an alias if you'd prefer!!

I've always enjoyed reading people's firsthand recollections of cars, and their foibles, in years gone by. Stories similar to this can be found on the main Motoring Memories Project page, which can be found here.

No-one at oldclassiccar necessarily agrees with, or condones, the events in these stories, and opinions given are not those of the site editor, but of the contributor!

In Your Face - stories of a Bedford, old engine oil, and an ample cleavage

Bedford caravanette Dormobile
A friend used to own a Bedford CA Caravanette. The interior was arranged so that the two front seats reclined into a double bed, giving sleeping accomodation for two adults lengthwise. A bench seat behind this gave the same for a young child, but across the van. Filling up the rest of the space on the left hand side was the obligatory cooker / sink unit. Quite basic really, but sufficient for the odd overnight trip.

We were always a group of 5 that drove about in the caravanette. There was Red, a lad big enough to play in a rugby team front row. Willie, who looked surprisingly like John Lennon. Two girls – aren´t there always – Millie, who was as one says, was very well developed for her age, or any age come to that, and Connie, who was the exact opposite. We used to joke with her that she had to run round in the shower to get wet! And myself, who always seemed to get the job of driver.

Anyway, one Good Friday, we were asked if we could deliver an old Sideboard to Gloucester. The trip down only had one incident really. Which was a new low record for us. The remould tyre on the right rear decided to shed its tread. At the time, quite a problem, as we were travelling downhill, on the middle lane of the M6 motorway, with the Bedford CA going absolutely flat out! Luckily for us, flat out with that thing was probably not much more than 65 or 70 mph, and with more luck than good management, managed to keep it under control, and force our way over to the hard shoulder. I say force our way over, because naturally we seemed to be surrounded with every car in England. Arriving in Tewkesbury, our usual sense of direction prevailed, and we ended up getting totally lost, finally arriving at 11:30pm.

We carried the sideboard into the house, and 5 sandwiches (one each!) and 5 cups of tea where produced. This must have been what is known as southern hospitality, because before midnight we were back on the road again, having been refused the possibility of parking in their large drive, in order to get a little sleep before the homeward journey. We found an all night petrol station, filled up the Bedford, bought some chocolate and lemonade, and headed for the motorway. First the M5, and then the M6 again. All went reasonably well for a while, until we got north of Birmingham, which was when the oil light started blinking. We pulled onto the hard shoulder, and checked the oil, which was found to be low. Very low indeed! So we took the decision to drive to the next exit, leave the motorway, find a lay-by, and wait until daylight. At that time we thought that we should be able to find an open garage, buy some oil, and continue on our way.

Once in the lay-by, we prepared the van for sleeping, and took our positions. I was in the “double bed” behind the steering wheel, with Millie in the middle, and Connie to the left. Willie was on the child´s bed, and Red was on the floor near the cooker. By now, we were all thoroughly exhausted, and fell asleep quite quickly. For at the most a few minutes. It wasn´t long before Red discovered that the floor space was way too small for his huge body. Waking us all up with a start, he announced that he was going out to look for oil. Which he did, by leaving through the rear doors.

After being awoken in that manner, it´s always difficult to return to sleep. So we started to talk a little. Millie asked “Does anybody know where we are?”

“Yes, Cannock Chase.”

“I´ve never heard of it. Where is it?”

“Oh, it´s where Ian Brady and Myra Hindley killed and buried those children a few years ago. In fact, their ghosts are said to roam the Moors at night, looking for victims!”

A discussion followed, but slowly we all fell asleep again. For a while, anyway. I was suddenly awoken by Millie screaming and hugging me. This must have been the origin of the expression “In your face” as her rather ample chest was almost suffocating me! Looking out of the windscreen, we all began to get a bit worried, if not frightened. All we seemed to be able to see where two ghostly white eyes, and a row of teeth. Focusing now, we all began to see a shiny black face. At first, Millie had released me, but upon focusing, she let out yet another scream, and grabbed me again, This time somehow joined by Connie. For me at least, this was beginning to be a good experience! Carry on, girl!

The windscreen was tapped twice. Another scream, a tighter hug. Things were getting better. Then, a voice was heard.

“Stop messing about, and let me in!” It was Reds voice, thank goodness. He had arrived back from his exploration, only to find the rear doors of the camper van locked. So he had walked round to the front on the Bedford, tapped on the screen, and started the commotion. But why the shiny black face?

This was his story.

“I walked down the road to the roundabout. I knew that there was nothing on the left, because that was where we had come from. I followed the road to the right, walked around the bend, and found a garage that was closed. I saw that they did car services, so I guessed that somewhere they must have had a tank or something where they put all the old engine oil. I looked around the back, and, sure enough found one. A big one. I looked over the top, and found that there were a few inches of oil in the bottom. I found a couple of empty cans, and reached down to fill them. But I couldn´t reach down far enough. So I piled a few bricks and things, climbed up on them, and reached in again. But the bricks collapsed, and I fell in, head first!”

Being the more sensible option, we waited until the garage opened, and bought some new oil, and continued on our way!

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