Bedford's transport

of delight

ANYONE who was lucky enough to enjoy the post war golden days of British seaside holidays has got to remember that star of the coach stands, the Bedford OB.

The OB was always known as the bus with the bonnet with a pronounced bullnose grille, elegant bonnet and sweeping Duple Vista coachwork.

It looked more like a giant car than a coach and even people who had no idea what it was called can remember it.

It may not have been the largest coach available but its elegant styling endeared it to the hearts of all those who liked to take it easy and enjoy a day out.

Even now, 77 years after the early versions of 1939 there are still many on the road in the hands of enthusiasts.

For many the OB would be a first recollection of riding to school because many, in later life, were reassigned from prestige trips to pupil transport.

The Bedford slogan of the time stated 'You see them everywhere' and you did.

The OB was powered by a six-cylinder petrol engine of 3,519cc.

Its chassiswas a leap ahead in those days,being designed specifically for public transport rather than converted from lorry use.

When the Second WorldWar came, the OB continued in production, but in an austere form with slatted wooden seats.

Many of these wartime buses soldiered on until the 1950s and a number were re-bodied with the Duple Vista coach work.

Many OB's were still going strong with small operators until the mid 1970s, almost 25 yearsafter the last ones were built in 1951.

The OB ranks alongside the AEC Routemaster and other old faithful buseslike the Bristol ECW as one of the favourites in the preservation movement.

Seeing them at rallies evokes childhood memories of happy seaside excursions with the coach's sunroof wide open.

It was not until after the end of wartime hostilities that the Bedford OB was to become a familiar sight on the British roads.

Production of the post-war design began in 1946, well before other types of coaches resumed production.

Seating capacity was normally 29 with overhead luggage racks provided for passengers, whilst the rear luggage boot was also used to store the spare wheel.

An OB would easily to 40mph and in some instances 50mph was not unheard of and braking was very efficient.

The Vista coachwork remained Duple's standard OB body until production of the OB chassis ceased in the early 1950s.

In 1945, the price of a complete coach, including finishing in a two colour livery, was £ 1,314.10s for a 27 seater and £ 1,325.10s for a 29 seater.

From the end of the war until 1950 a total of 12,693 OB's were built and in 2007 it was reported that there were still approximately 80 known OB's still on the road - some of them still earning their living with a PSV nearly 65 years on.


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