Monday, 5 January 2015

Bedford CA vans.

I am slowly beginning to figure out the Bedford CA vans that came out first in 1956 and were still going strong in the early 1960s. This is an ancient but quite cute looking vehicle that was common on the roads at the time but not a model I ever really wanted so they tended to pass me by at the time and only now am I realising just how many different types there were.

It seems quite extraordinary that this odd little van should have been such a big element in the catalogue but someone must have thought it had legs when they first introduced them. Here is the list:

403 Daily Express van in blue Type 1
403M KLG Plugs van in red Type 1
404 Dormobile in white, pale blue, metallic dark red Type 1 or yellow and blue Type 2
404M Dormobile in white or pale blue, maybe metallic dark red Type 1
405 Fire Service in green or red Type 1
405M Fire Service in red Type 1
408 AA Service Van in yellow and black Type 1 and 2
412 Ambulance in white Type 1 and 2
414 Miltary Ambulance in khaki Type 2
421 Evening Standard van in silver and black Type 2
422 Corgi Toys van in yellow and light blue Type 2
423 Fire Dept van in red Type 2

I make that 15. Note that there are two distinct versions of the Dormobile, AA van and Ambulance, the first having the Type 1 split screen and Type 2, coming out in 1959, had just a single screen and a much-revised radiator grill. They're easy to spot. But if look closely you'll find variations within Type 1 models. At the front there are two different versions of the Type 1 grill: one that has a flat, straight top edge and another that looks more curved. At the rear, some models have small round blocks, like reversing lamps but probably rubber blocks to protect the metal when reversing on the real thing as I don't think they had many factory fitted reversing lamps in the 1950s.

Neither of these variations - and the grill is really quite noticeable and occurs within models, not one type for, say, and AA van and another for the Daily Express or whatever - are documented in any expert sites I have found so far. Someone, somewhere will have the answer but I have yet to find out just which models had which and so I cannot put a definitive number on the models in this list yet.

I have illustrated here the models I have so far - several still to come which I will add in as and when. But rather than wait, some being quite difficult to find, I thought I'd cover what I have to date now.

Luckily, colours seem to be pretty consistent and I haven't noticed much crossover. There are variations with two tone models as to where one colour starts and another stops, notably on the Corgi Toys van where one with the dividing line half way down seen particularly valuable. The Fire Service vans can be confusing too - often you'll find the Type 1 mechanical advertised as 423M which is nonsense but I suppose people just look it up and see the green one as 405 and the red one as 423. In fact, I have a red 405 non-mechanical coming in! Generally, though, there are fairly straightfoward and reasonably limited colours for each one.

403M straight grill
403M no round blocks
403 curved grill

403 Type 1
404 Type 2

404 Type 2
405 Curved grill

405 no round blocks

405 Straight grill

405 with round blocks

408 Type 1 curved grill

408 Type 1 extra blocks

408 Type 1 curved grill

408 Type 1 

412 Type 1 curved grill

412 Type 1

414 Type 2
414 Type 2 with extra blocks under doors

You know, it would be quite easy to collect just CA vans! There are 15 distinct models. Add colour variations for some and you get up to 25 clearly different models. Add the Type 1 grill difference and, if each Type 1 could appear with either that's another 8. The rear end changes would seem less widespread - I have only seen one variation on 403M so far so let's say it adds just a few more and takes us up to 36 in total. That's still quite a few! Many are still at quite reasonable prices too if you don't mind some natural wear and tear. I doubt that many sellers will be concerned with the sort of minor variations I have mentioned so you can have some fun looking without necessarily having to fork out huge amounts for an extra few models that add interest to a collection.

There are some, though, that I do hope I shall only need to find once! The Type 2 Ambulance seems scarce and the Corgi Toy van is understandably a popular, sought after item too. But they haven't yet achieved the status of their contemporary cars which keeps prices lower. And they are a bit ugly to many. And, of course, they can be pretty confusing so not everyone is too sure what they've got. Maybe I shouldn't have written this!

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