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The origins of Vauxhall Motors can be traced to 1857 when Alexander Wilson founded the Vauxhall Iron Works and set up business as a marine engineer in Wandsworth Road, Vauxhall, London. By the turn of the century Wilson had left the business and the remaining board directors became interested in the "horseless carriage" after the company had constructed a petrol engined launch - one of the first in marine engineering. In 1903 a 5 h.p. single cylinder car was offered to the public at a price of 130 guineas. In order to expand the company, it was necessary to move out of London and a suitable site was acquired in Luton, Bedfordshire where the company moved in 1905.
The Vauxhall car factory was taken over by
General Motors in 1925. The factory was expanded and facilities for manufacturing trucks were made. The trucks made were named "Bedford" after the Bedfordshire County wherein the city of Luton and the factory were placed. The maker were quoted to be Vauxhall Motors LTD, Luton, Bedfordshire.
The first trucks, known as the WHG and the WLG and with a 2 ton capacity, appeared in April 1931. The 2 different chassis were also used for bus-production, known as the WHB and the WLB.
In many ways the new Bedford looked identical to the contemporary Chevrolet Six, produced by General Motors.
A 3 ton truck, the WT designed by P. Stepney Acres, was introduced at The Commercial Motor Show in November 1933. It was of what became known as "semi-forward-control" design.
The WT-series were superseded by the
OL-series in 1939. The OL/40 & OS/40 was Bedfords first truck in the 5 ton class. The WS was superseded by the K-model and the WHG and the WLG by the MS and ML-range.
With the outbreak of WW II the control of the factory was handed over to the Ministry of Supply, and the production changed to military vehicles only. Roughly a thousand vehicles pr. week were produced during the war and only few of them were civilian models.
Besides the vehicles products as side panels for Jerrycans, rocket venturi tubes, armour piercing shells and steel helmets were produced during the war.
When WW II ended the 1939 range of K-, M- and O-models resumed production.
The S-type, known as "the Big Bedford" was introduced at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show. This took Bedford up to the 7-ton class with a new forward-control design. At the same time a new bus chassis, the
SB, was launched. The S-type was powered by a completely new petrol engine, generally known as the 300 cu in unit.
Design and development of the
R-series began in December 1950, and quantity production commenced in 1952. Introduced in the British Army the same year. Available on the civilian market from October 1953.
The CA van, which became one of Bedfords most successful products with more that 370.000 units produced, was introduced in 1952 and remained in production until 1969.
In spring 1953 the
A-series was launched, but production ceased as early as in 1957.
The truck- and chassis-production was transferred to Dunstable in 1955.
The
J-series, also known as the TJ, was introduced in 1958, and same year the companys truck production reached the one-million mark.
A new forward-control range, the
TK, which replaced the S-type was announced in 1960.
A proving ground in Millbrook was brought into use in 1969, replacing Chaul End in this function, and production passed the two-million mark.
The new Bedford type to appear in 1970 was the
M-type, which replaced the R-type.
In 1975 the TM became the last range to be offered by Bedford under the ownership of General Motors.
The three-million mark was reached in 1978.
Production ceased by the end of 1986 although some military vehicles (TM- and M-series) and vans were produced the following years.
The Dunstable factory was sold to AWD in November 1987 and truck production continued until 1992 when AWD went bankrupt.
In October 1992 the remains were sold to Marshall of Cambridge. Three models were available, the TJ2 (almost identical to the TJ introduced in 1958), the MT (developed from the M-type) and the TL. Sales were small and in 1996 only the TL 17-21 was available on the home market.

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