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The Bedford CA Dormobile Was Britain’s Strange Answer to the Volkswagen Camper


One of the nice issues concerning the resurgence of camper vans is that a variety of fantastic classic vans are resurfacing. Some of them are identified greats like Volkswagen campers, however some are extra obscure campers like this van earlier than you at this time. The Bedford Dormobile is Britain’s reply to the campers of its day and it positive is weird.

Dormobile’s historical past dates the entire approach again to 1773. Back then, the corporate says, Martin Walter launched a household enterprise that first made horse harnesses earlier than entering into constructing carriages. Fast ahead 60 years and Martin Walter Ltd was nonetheless coachbuilding, however now making convertible roofs for automobiles. Later, the Martin Walter firm would create the Utilecon physique, an idea that remodeled panel vans into passenger vans in seconds.

Photo: Dormobile Ltd

The firm’s expertise with convertibles and panel van conversions would come collectively within the Nineteen Fifties when it joined the then new world of camper vans.

In 1951, Westfalia created its first camper van, the “Camping Box.” While the camper van dates again a long time prior, Westfalia is commonly credited with making the thought of tenting in a van fashionable. Westfalia’s conversion simply turned a Volkswagen Transporter into a house for a weekend getaway. Martin Walter Ltd was proper on the heels of Westfalia only a 12 months later with its personal tackle tenting.

Photo: Dormobile Ltd

In 1952, the UK’s Bedford Vehicles launched the Bedford CA. This was a van with what regarded just like the nostril of a pug, sliding entrance doorways and distinctive character traces. As the Dormobile Owners Club notes, Martin Walter Ltd took the CA and first added a bench seat for sleeping. The Dormobile — bed room on wheels — was born. But after all, Martin Walter Ltd didn’t cease there. It additionally added a range and in 1957 got here its pop-top roof tent.

While Dormobile began with the Bedford CA, it shortly expanded to creating camper conversions for a wide range of vans, together with the Volkswagen Transporter.

Photo: Dormobile Ltd

And it wasn’t lengthy earlier than Dormobile camper vans grew to become well-known within the UK. The firm purchased out different camper van producers alongside the way in which.

That brings us to the van plastered throughout your display.

Photo: Facebook Marketplace, Other

It was in-built 1969, the 12 months that Martin Walter Ltd modified its identify to Dormobile Ltd and began making Dormobile conversions for Land Rovers. It’s additionally the ultimate 12 months for the Bedford CA van.

The Dormobile that you simply see right here has the options that you simply’d anticipate in a camper van with its stovetop, oven, sink and cabinetry.

Photo: Bring a Trailer, Other
Photo: Bring a Trailer, Other

Up entrance is a eating desk with what seems to be like some soft seats flanking it. The seats within the van fold flat — together with the driving force seat — so you may sleep in them. This Bedford CA Dormobile sleeps 4 and the lodging don’t look dangerous for one thing this previous. The van seems to be so good as a result of it was restored within the UK earlier than being imported to America.

This van additionally has some neat touches like steps to get in from the rear.

Photo: Facebook Marketplace, Other

Under the stubby hood is a tiny 1.5-litre 4. It’s stated to have been overbored and rebuilt with a alternative camshaft and valves. This would have made 52 horses when new, or 54.8 horses if it was optioned with excessive compression. The engine is paired to a column-shifted three-speed handbook.

Photo: Facebook Marketplace, Other

Through some sleuthing I’ve discovered that van was offered on Bring a Trailer again in January for the surprisingly cheap value of $US23,250 ($32,276). Buying it now would set you again $US48,000 ($66,634), however the vendor says that extra restoration work has been carried out since then, together with the van’s bunk beds.

Sadly, whereas Dormobile continues to be round at this time constructing every kind of campers, you gained’t discover them within the States.

Photo: Facebook Marketplace, Other

That stated, Dormobile does restorations on its iconic classic vans, so components to maintain this going ought to nonetheless be round. Bedford Vehicles folded in 1986, however fortunately the engine can be stated to have been widespread again in its day. Keeping that alive shouldn’t be too laborious, both. That makes this van an import that you simply gained’t be afraid to drive. So should you’re searching for one thing a bit completely different, this may very well be the ticket.



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