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The aptly named Bedford Beagle

Bedford Beagle Image

The Bedford Beagle was an estate car of sorts which grew out of an existing van. The van itself, the Bedford HA, was a cheap and cheerful little runabout which the Post Office, in it's wisdom, bought by the thousand. And why not. It was cheap to buy, cheap to run, and highly practical when used for carrying relatively light loads. Fair enough creature comforts were virtually non-existent but that was not a priority. For small businesses or companies making lightweight deliveries the HA was an excellent choice and it stayed in production for nearly 20 years.

If that is the way things had been kept the HA would have gradually faded into history leaving behind nothing but reasonably fond memories. The problem was that someone had the bright idea of adapting it into an estate car and this is where things went a little haywire.

The company which made Dormobile caravanettes, Martin Walter, were brought in to create the conversion, with a brief to make it as economical as possible. The problem was that they started with a vehicle designed as a light van with all the lack of comfort and performance that that entails, and simply stuck some windows in the side, together with a folding rear seat. This was a basic vehicle to say the least.

Interior trim was spartan. Sound deadening was minimal; the noise from the hard-working engine echoed through the vehicle. The suspension and transmission were designed for a different purpose entirely and so the ride was harsh and uncompromising. there were drum brakes all round but they were probably adequate considering that the top speed of this vehicle was around 72 to 80 mph, depending on engine choice.

As a practical runabout it had it's uses but as a family conveyance it was too much of a step backwards for the buying public who preferred to actually enjoy their travelling. Okay it was practical, reasonably reliable and fairly simple to maintain. On the other hand it was noisy, Spartan, completely lacking in performance and downright uncomfortable.

The buying public were suitably unimpressed. The number that were actually produced and sold has never been released. However you would be very hard pressed to find one in existence now; the few that were actually sold showed an unhealthy ability to succumb to rust so perhaps this is not completely surprising. And to be realistic, who would want to spend money maintaining, let alone renovating, a dog's breakfast like this?