Friday, 7 April 2017

The Bedford CA Top 40!

Doing the Timeline for the RAC Land Rover made me think again about the Bedford CA range. I had been looking at which models might be the really scarce ones but I had completely ignored the variations of wheels. Sometime in late 1960 or early 1961 the shaped wheels began to appear. This was around the time that the MkII single screen Bedford CA vans were also produced so it occurred to me that there might well be a significant difference in numbers produced for some of these.

For example, the last Bedford CA was the Military Ambulance 414. This is listed as appearing first in January 1961 and, although over 130,000 were produced, you won't see many with smooth wheels as shortly after it started being made the shaped ones would have taken over.

Now, I don't know any exact dates but I've been able to make some pretty sensible guesses for significant changes. The assumptions I've made are listed below the table. This is still work in progress and this table is a 'live' table which will change if I make amendments so it should stay as current as I can make it by incorporating any readers' corrections or worthy observations.

A glance at the numbers will show us that 422s with a yellow roof and smooth wheels could be the star of the show, along with its sister with shaped wheels. The difference between the two variations of 414 are also remarkable; one being 5th scarcest and the other the most common by a long way!

I hope this is getting closer to a definitive listing of these charming little vans. We are at 40 now in the list. I know there are some others, like the half yellow, half blue 422 and possible different shades of light blue and turquoise for the 404M which I might have to include one day. The former, though, is seriously valuable and may be in the hundreds only. As for the shades, including these may have the effect of making each appear quite rare by further dividing the numbers. I can only divide them evenly without any evidence to the contrary and so may be making one appear more or less scarce than it really deserves to be! So, for now, I have resisted listing shades.


  • Shaped wheels were fitted from December 1960
  • Smooth wheels ceased being fitted after December 1961
  • Between December 1960 and December 1961 either type might have been available in equal numbers
  • Production ceased in June of the year specified in publications or, for a Mk I model that continued with the same number as a Mk II, in the month preceding the MkII version first appearance
  • The numbers produced each month remained constant through a period of production (see below)
  • Where several variations of a model exist with a similar period of production, these were distributed evenly except in the case of variations known to be very scarce.
  • Model 405 in red and 422 with a yellow roof are assumed each to represent 10% of the total production of 405 or 422 models respectively.

Update 12 April 2017:

It was clear that some initial research was producing rather different degrees of scarcity with, for instance, a lot more smooth wheels being apparent in comparison to shaped on the same edition. So I took a long, hard look at the production run possibilities again and made some changes. The main change has been to say that production started at a high level and decreased thereafter. In other words, most models of each type or variation would have been made at the start of the production period. 
I have taken what I think has to be a much more accurate guess now as to the numbers made in each of three stages: before shaped wheels, during the period when both were being fitted and the period when only shaped wheels were fitted. For some models there might just be two stages as some either ceased before shaped wheels came along or started when both might have been available.
The effect of the revised calculations can be seen in the 'live' table above and I have added a column to indicate probable scarcity. You'll see that now the stars of the show are mostly the shaped wheel types.
I still feel there is a bit of an anomaly as we see rather more smooth wheels on 414s than shaped in initial searches as to what's available at present. I would expect it to be the other way round. The latest ratio is not as extreme as my previous estimate, though, so perhaps a larger sample size will support my assumptions better.
I do believe that this is about as close as I shall ever get, in the absence of more accurate actual figures from somewhere. So I shall leave this with you and hope it inspires thought and helps those with the genuinely scarce little vans appreciate them even more.

No comments:

Post a Comment