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

Bedford VAL / Van Hool "Vistadome".

After "resting" in my files for a few years, it's high time that this next Bedford VAL photo makes an appearance on OCC. It shows two Van Hool-bodied vehicles at an as-yet unidentified location. Was it at a motor show, or at Van Hool's own base? The coach in question is their "Vistadome", based on the twin-steer VAL 70 chassis. Reading around online, suggests that possibly only one VAL was bodied in this way for the UK market. That vehicle was registered RAR 690J, which survives to this day. Could this be the same vehicle? The VAL shown here is registered on a non-British registration plate (Van Hool is based in Belgium), I think it reads GR.21466. Also, the front end trim varies slightly to that on preserved RAR 690J, and the windscreen wiper arrangement is also different.
The VAL is liveried in the name of Moseley Continental, a UK coach supplier, and sports a set of Michelin tyres on which the manufacturer's name has been picked out in light paint - perhaps for a show, or other publicity purposes. The wheels have been carefully positioned so that both tyre labels are in the same position as each other, and in the foreground is a photographer's tripod. The stylised "am" lettering high up on the Bedford's coachwork is a reference to the brains behind Moseley Continental, namely Alf Moseley, of Alf Moseley Continental Limited. I wonder whether the other Van Hool coach, displayed alongside the VAL, was also a Moseley vehicle?
Bedford VAL Vistadome
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