∙Highly presentable throughout. ∙Engine overhauled 2015. ∙‘Nut-and-bolt’ restoration in 2015.
The story of this Bedford Dropside needs to back a little further than its year of manufacture.
In November 1925, GM purchased Vauxhall Motors with production transferred from Hendon to Luton in Bedfordshire, Vauxhall's headquarters, with production commencing there in 1929. The marque takes its name from Bedford, the county town of Bedfordshire, in which Luton is located.
The Bedford OY is a British Army lorry introduced in 1939. It was based on Bedford's O-Series commercial vehicles with a modified front end and single rear tyres and was designed for a 3-ton payload.
As with previous Bedford models, the OY was a general service vehicle. Another, the OYC was a tanker version for carrying water or petrol. A further variant known as the ‘Armadillo’ was an OY fitted for RAF airfield defence with Lewis guns and an ex-aircraft COW 37mm gun. However, the most common of the OY variants was the simple drop side model offered here.
A total of 72,385 OY lorry models were built between 1939 and 1953. They were fitted with a 72bhp longitudinal 6-cylinder petrol engine paired to a four-speed manual gearbox. Top speed was around 40mph.
Little is known of the foreign history of ‘BFE 911’ prior to its importation into the UK in July, 2000 when it subsequently received its first UK registration.
The current UK keeper – its third – acquired the vehicle in May, 2016, following its extensive ‘nut-and-bolt’ restoration in 2015.
The completed works – said to cost in the region of £25,000 – were carried out to an extraordinarily high standard and included a replacement hardwood load bed and hand-painted signage. The truck is a rare survivor and would take pride of place in any collection worthy of its inclusion.
Along with the V5C, there is little paperwork to accompany the vehicle aside from invoices for a Solex carburettor, a late Lucas distributor and a 12V coil.
Unfortunately, there is little paper-based information or accompanying pictures on the truck’s restoration, although this might still be available from the previous keeper.
With a wish to retain authenticity wherever possible, the restorer decided to retain much of the interior of the cab as originally fitted nearly seventy years ago.
The only concession to that appears to be the seats which have been re-upholstered and re-covered, but still in deference to the era. The instruments are fully original and said to be in working order.
Along with the smart, glossy green paintwork and hand-painted door signage of the period, the exterior presents in exceptionally good order. New cedar boards bedeck the load bay and are not only attractive but durable, too.
All five drop sides do so as intended to create a more practical access to the load bay. New tyres are fitted throughout and the door steps have been re-clad with new timber strips.
The underside is in exemplary order and all rear mechanicals have been subject to the same detail as the rest of the restoration project.
The truck is powered by a strong, 3.5-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine, which starts well and settles into a gently throbbing idle. The engine was overhauled during the restoration and benefits from a new Solex carburettor, a Lucas distributor and ignition coil.
Vintage vehicles – especially unstoppable workhorses of this genre and from this period – have always attracted attention. This particular one was meant to have been exhibited at the Great Dorset Steam Fair in 2020, but we all know the kibosh Covid put on that year.
BL 911 has been restored to an exceptionally high standard and could still be used today as a load lugger extraordinaire. Alternatively, it would undoubtedly grace a collection of a similar theme and era worthy of its inclusion and attraction value.
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1943 Bedford OY Drop Side Truck
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