|See Homepage.||This page: A brief intro to some Bedford Coupe Utilities I imported to the UK from Australia.|
Bedford PC & JC Utes.
The story of these Australian Bedfords, all fitted with local Holden-built 'Coupe Utility' bodywork, started one damp evening back in February, 2006, while perusing eBay Australia. Idly scrolling through all the Antipodean cars and utes for sale, my eyes fell upon something that looked strangely British, but with a twist. It turned out to be a Bedford PC (or to be strictly correct, a PCZ for an export chassis) 'ute', or 'utility', as they are often known over there. In the post-war years it was common for rolling chassis, with bulkhead and front end panelwork, to be shipped to Australia, where they would be bodied locally, in this case by Holden, for the local market. In the UK, PC Bedfords were available as vans, or else woodies converted by third party coachbuilders. As far as I know, no pickups were offered by Vauxhall-Bedford in the UK. Interestingly, these Australian-bodied variants had split, 2 piece windscreens, whereas UK market vans had a one piece screen.
A couple of weeks or so later, another Bedford appeared on eBay, this time a dismantled & part restored JC ute. As I already needed a container for the first Bedford B1, it didn't seem much more of an issue to get a slightly larger container, and squeeze in this 1940s JC while we were at it. The price was right, so I bid and won this ute, with Ian again collecting it, and storing both B1 and B2 at his friend's yard in Sydney (thanks to John for the storage).
It was around this time that the utes would have been packaged into a container, readied for their 10,500 miles trip to the UK. Ian however had an accident, rendering him largely immobile for a number of months, which I know drove (and is still driving him) up the wall somewhat. It was during this period (June) that he spotted a brief text advert in the Agricultural Newspaper, advertising another ute for sale. This one had not been posted online, so he rang up the seller promptly to find out more. It turned out that this grey PC Bedford, known as B3, had been off the road since the mid 1970s, and was in totally original, untouched, condition. Needless to say we discussed it via email, and decided to snap this rare offering up before someone else spotted the advert.
To cut a long story short, B1, B2 and B3 were dropped off at the Sydney docks with the shipping agents, and they prepared the utes for their containerised trip. The container was a 40ft job, not quite large enough for all 3 utes and the many spares that came with them. The dismantled JC was loaded first, and angled up, in order that the front of B1 could be nosed in, with B3 going in last of all (a tight fit!). The ship, called Xutra Bhum, set sail on the 29th September.
The utes arrived in the UK on the 21st November and, once the customs clearance had been sorted out, and final dockside handling fees paid over, they were ready for collection. Some friends locally had volunteered to help out with collecting the 3 utes and parts, so we all went down to the Chatham docks in convoy, 3 trailers behind 2 cars and their van. The journey back was a steady affair, with the rare cargo landing back up at their garage that evening. The utes were then moved to our home one by one shortly after. The full story of importing these vehicles from Australia will follow soon.
Plan is to keep these Bedfords together. B1 (the cream one) we've had running and driving briefly, and B3 (the grey one) will be preserved 'as is' with a view to re-commissioning it further down the line. B2, the dismantled JC, will go in store for now.
Thanks go to my other half (Lid) for being very understanding!, Ian in NSW Australia - without his help none of this adventure could have taken place, John for the temporary storage of the utes in Sydney, Paul at Hellas Europe, for storing then arranging the utes' loading into the container at Sydney docks, the Captain of the Xutra Bhum for avoiding icebergs and other nautical dramas, RJJ Freight, the guys at and Chatham Freight Station for helping us load the utes onto our trailers, Dad & my brother Phil for help collecting them this end, and to Ted & Jan who organised the trailering this end, and transported B3 plus most of the spares with their van.
Update. In 2009 I decided to cut back on the number of project vehicles in the garage, so I held onto the grey ute and passed the two cream ones on, albeit reluctantly.
There seems to be very little information online relating to Bedford PCs, whether British built vans, or Australian-bodied utes. As I find information on these vehicles, I'll add in the links here. Please drop me a line via the contact page if you find any other resources online for the HC, JC and PC vans and other variations.
Bedford Ute restoration
Photo of a ute in Australia
Restored ute in Australia
Bedford pickup in the UK 6cwt 1938
PC van restoration in New Zealand
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