The orange Bedford on display at Rocklea
The orange Bedford on display at Rocklea David Vile

This retired rescue truck has a lot of character

LIKE a number of other brand names, the Bedford nameplate is one of many which have largely disappeared off Australian roads and bush tracks over the last 50 years.

The product line extended to both highway and off-road trucks, and after being retired last year, a restored 4x4 Bedford M1120 is now retained by the Historic Commercial Vehicle Association (HCVAQ) of Queensland.

HCVAQ member Graham Kircher had the robust 43-year old Bedford on display at the Rocklea Showgrounds in June as part of the Heritage Truck Association's annual show, with the truck's bright orange paint standing out amongst the trucks on display.

"It was purchased by the Lockyer Valley Council at Gatton, who purchased it with the intention of using it as a flood rescue truck," he said.

Graham Kircher from the HCVAQ with the Bedford
Graham Kircher from the HCVAQ with the Bedford David Vile

With money coming from the HCVAQ the Bedford, which had originally seen service as a fire truck in the southern states, was tidied up and painted and a new tray fitted.

However, last year with OH&S policy dictating that vehicles were not to be driven through flood water, the Bedford was headed for the auction to be disposed of.

"Regulations dictated that we could not use it for that purpose any more and the council were going to auction it, however they decided to donate it back to the HCVAQ and we take it around to the local shows now," explained Graham.

The Bedford is powered along by a 6-cylinder 330-cubic inch diesel motor, putting the power down the driveline via a four-speed gearbox.

"Its good for about 80 k's on the road, it's a bit noisy and bouncy - it needs road tyres rather than the knobbly tyres on it. We took the front tail shaft off it to run in 2-wheel-drive as we don't need to take it off the road, it uses a bit less fuel and drives better without it," Graham said.

Still capable off road - the M1120 could still handle the rough stuff
Still capable off road - the M1120 could still handle the rough stuff David Vile

Former mayor of the Lockyer Valley Council, the late Steve Jones, was instrumental in purchasing the vehicle after the devastating floods through the Lockyer Valley in 2011.

"Steve Jones reckoned this would go through about four feet of water but if you had a newer truck with its fancy electrics it would stop half way - he reckoned it was a saving of $100,000 rather than buying a new Hino or something similar, but as it tuned out it was never used in earnest - it was just there in case of another flood," he said. 

The club is in the process of fundraising to purchase a personalised "S Jones" number plate in recognition of the former Mayor who passed away in 2016.

The HCVAQ has had the Bedford in its possession for the last nine months, where it joins another Bedford, a former RACQ tow truck in the collection.

The club, which has its headquarters in Gatton, has around 200 members and will be hosting its 2019 Historic Truck and Tractor Show on September 28 at the Gatton Showgrounds - where no doubt, the orange Bedford will be standing out amongst the other heritage vehicles on display.
 

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