Bedford CF

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Bedford CF
Bedford CF based Dormobile Debonaire ca 1980 Schaffen-Diest 2012.jpg
Also calledOpel Bedford Blitz
Body and chassis
ClassLight commercial vehicle (M)
Body styleVan
LayoutLongitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
Wheelbase106–140 in (2,692–3,556 mm)
SuccessorOpel Vivaro

The Bedford CF was a range of full-size panel vans produced by Bedford. The van was introduced in 1969 to replace the CA model, and was sized to compete directly with the Ford Transit, which had entered production four years earlier. Its design was similar to its American counterpart, the Chevrolet Van (1971–1995).

Bedford was a General Motors subsidiary, and in some markets outside the United Kingdom and Ireland the CF was sold through Opel dealers as the Opel Bedford Blitz from 1973 on when the original Opel Blitz was phased out. In other markets such as in Norway the CF retained its original name.[1]

The CF was notable for being the last solely Vauxhall-engineered vehicle when it was discontinued in 1987 (the last Vauxhall passenger car had been the HC Viva which had ceased production in 1979); since all Vauxhall models by that point had switched to being based on Opel platforms. The Bedford brand continued on certain badge engineered light van designs from Isuzu and Suzuki, before being retired in 1991.


Introduced in November 1969[2] to replace the 17-year-old Bedford CA, the CF van variants soon became some of the most popular light commercial vehicles on British roads.[3][4]

The CF could be specified with a sliding door in the side panel directly behind the passenger door,[2] and it was generally with this layout that the van was also commonly used as a base vehicle for a caravanette.[5]

The engine was the well-proven Slant Four engine which had been introduced for the Vauxhall FD Victor models in 1967. Apart from an increased engine capacity from 1.6 l (1,598 cc) to 1.8 l (1,759 cc) and from 2.0 l (1,975 cc) to 2.3 l (2,279 cc) in 1972, the power units remained unchanged. A four-cylinder 1.8 l (1,760 cc) Perkins diesel engine could be specified for an extra £130 (1969),[2] while a larger 2.5 l (2,523 cc) version was used for heavier versions. These units were rated at 50 and 61 PS (37 and 45 kW; 49 and 60 hp) DIN. In 1976, a 2.1 l (2,064 cc) overhead valve (OHV) diesel engine from Opel replaced the outdated Perkins units.

In Australasian markets, the CF could be optioned with Holden six-cylinder units, in 2,850 cc (173.9 cu in) and 3,310 cc (202.0 cu in) forms. This was as an answer to the rival Ford Transit range, which in Australia used six-cylinder engines from the Ford Falcon.

The Bedford used the same basic suspension lay-out as the Vauxhall Victor, though married to greater wheel arch clearances and calibrated for greater weight carrying capacity.[6] The front independent suspension featured a double wishbone layout with coil springs and telescopic shock absorbers, while the rear wheels were suspended by a combination involving a live axle and traditional long single-leaf springs.[2]

Several different manual transmissions were used: the Vauxhall three-speed, four-speed, Bedford four-speed, ZF four-speed, ZF five-speed, and the General Motors automatic. The Laycock type of overdrive was available to order or on the later Vauxhall four-speed models.[5]

There were three CF1 body styles. A standard panel van which was intended to rival the Ford Transit; the special van body (essentially a self-contained cab with a general-purpose chassis onto which a wide range of custom-built bodies or beds could be built), and the Dormobile (caravanette).


(late) German market Bedford Blitz, note Opel logotype
Bedford vans were very popular as ice cream vans and food trucks, with some of them still being used

The CF series 1 facelift was introduced in 1980, introducing the 2.3 L (2,260 cc) Opel 23D diesel engine with 61 hp (45.5 kW).[7]

Units exported to Germany (Bedford Blitz) received a smaller, 2.0 L (1,998 cc) diesel, producing 60 PS (44 kW; 59 hp).[8] This engine was also installed in many other export markets where tax categories suited engines with less than two litres of displacement, such as the Benelux countries and Finland. The 1.8 and 2.3 litre petrol units remained the same.

The restyled front end was engineered so that by removing 8 bolts the whole front panel could be completely removed, providing easy access to the engine so it could be removed from the front instead of from underneath like on the CF1.

The CF1 "facelift" is often[citation needed] confused with being a CF2 because it's difficult to tell them apart from the exterior. The easiest visual check is that the CF facelift will have the same old metallic door handles and mirrors as the CF1 while on the CF2 have new plastic ones.


1985 CF series 2
The Bedford CF was produced in many versions, including semi-trucks (as seen here) and pickup trucks

In 1984 the CF was renamed CF2 and basically only received mechanical upgrades. The diesel engines remained the 2.3 (with the 2.0 available in continental Europe) but the old Vauxhall slant fours were replaced by a 2.0 L (1,979 cc), 78 hp (58 kW) version of the Opel CIH four cylinder.[7]

New transmissions were also available:

  • 4-speed GM all-synchromesh gearbox on short-wheelbase models;
  • ZF 5-speed overdrive all-synchromesh gearbox standard on all long-wheelbase models and optional on others;
  • GM automatic transmission optional on most models;
  • Choice of axle ratios on nearly all models.

And new efficient brakes:

  • Front disc brakes with self-adjusting rear drums on CF2/230 to CF2/280;
  • Self-adjusting drums all around on CF2/350 models;
  • Load-sensing valve standard on all models.

In 1985 the CF2 was sold side by side in UK with the Bedford Midi - a smaller, badge engineered version of the Isuzu Fargo which was locally built at the newly established IBC Vehicles venture with Isuzu.

By then the CF's replacement was put on hold and then ultimately dropped when Bedford decided that rebadging other GM owned brands was much cheaper. The last CF2s were sold in the UK in 1987 and marked the end of original Bedford designed vehicles.[9]

CF Electric[edit]

One noteworthy variant, the CF Electric was introduced in 1982. It was the first mass-produced electrically powered vehicle based on a fossil fuel vehicle platform. It was built in partnership between Bedford, Lucas, Chloride Group and the UK government on a 5-year grant scheme. The batteries were housed in a compartment below the floor and the traction came from a motor placed at the rear with a step down reduction gearbox coupled to the CF's standard differential, but turned through 180'. The motor control system was housed under the bonnet and a small diesel heater provided cabin heating. The system also featured regenerative braking, however this could be turned off as it was found that in wet conditions the motor could lock the rear wheels up in a similar way as applying the handbrake. Most were sold to government agencies, the Royal Mail and local authorities. However, with a price tag much higher than a standard CF, and battery technology at the time not advancing the government scheme wound down in 1987, and the model was withdrawn and spares for it soon dried up.


The Bedford CF van was the second most popular van in the UK, second only to the Ford Transit.[citation needed] Along with the Transit, the CF was usefully wider than competitor vehicles from Austin-Morris, Rootes and Volkswagen.[10] It was also the most common caravanette. CFs were popular with customisers throughout the 1970s and 1980s.


The Bedford CF was widely used. British police forces, in particular, used them for prisoner transport and as riot vans. They were also used by the Garda Síochána (Republic of Ireland police).[11][12] Some ambulance services kept them in service for longer than usual after production ended as they were liked by crews. The British Military also had a fleet of CFs. They were used by builders and builders' merchants, as well as by courier services and the Post Office. They were also a popular caravanette due to their space and reasonable fuel consumption. They were used as ice cream vans in Britain[5] and Australia.

A heavily modified CF was used as the Mystery Machine in Scooby-Doo: The Movie 2002.


Initially, Bedford wanted to enter a joint venture with Leyland Motors, to produce a replacement for the Bedford CF, but these plans never caught on, since the British government did not want one of their major truck manufacturers to be controlled by GM. Following economic problems and declining sales by Bedford, it was decided to divest the once legendary company, with the Luton plant being re-organized as a joint venture with Isuzu, and re-named to IBC Vehicles, while the Dunstable plant was sold to AWD Trucks. In 1986, the Isuzu Fargo started getting produced by IBC as the Bedford Midi, with local modifications for the UK market. The production of the CF continued until 1988, when harsh competition by the VE6 Ford Transit, which was much more modern, forced IBC to stop producing the CF van.

It was leaked that IBC was recruiting new staff at the Luton plant to build an Isuzu heavy-duty panel van to directly replace the CF2, since the smaller Midi, only corresponded to the smallest versions of the CF van. IBC later denied these claims, and said that no new vehicle was going to be engineered, instead, IBC started importing the heavier Isuzu Elf into Europe,[13] as the Bedford NKR, to replace the CF. After 1991, the Bedford name was dropped, but it was still sold by IBC dealerships until 1998 when Isuzu was taken off the partnership, and it was replaced by the Vauxhall Movano, Vauxhall's next heavy-duty panel van.

However, that was not the end for the CF. The taillights of the van were later used in the Bristol Britannia,[14] that lasted in production until 2011, long after the CF (and the Bedford brand as a whole) had ended production. The engine of the CF was also used in the Opel/Vauxhall Frontera.

Technical specifications[edit]


1969 range[15]
Model type Model designation Engine Wheelbase (inch/metre) GVW
18 cwt. 97100 1,599 cc petrol 106 in (2,700 mm) 4,793 lb
(2.174 t)
97200 4,108 cc diesel
22 cwt. 97300 1,975 cc petrol 5,331 lb
(2.418 t)
97400 4,108 cc diesel
25 cwt. 97500 1,975 cc petrol 126 in (3,200 mm) 6,003 lb
(2.723 t)
97600 4,154 cc diesel
35 cwt. 97700 1,975 cc petrol 7,236 lb
(3.282 t)
97800 4.154 diesel
  • 4390 lb. GVW available for models 97100, 97200 as Code 533.
  • Vauxhall OHC 97.5 cu. in. (1598 cc) and 120.5 cu. in. (1975 cc) petrol engines available as high or low compression.
  • Perkins 108 cu. in. (1770 cc) and 154 cu. in. (2523 cc) diesel engines.
  • All models available as a van (/70), chassis cab (/60) or chassis cowl (/90).
  • E.g.: 97170 18 cwt. van; 97760 35 cwt. chassis cab, 97590 25 cwt. chassis cowl.


107.4 cu. in. (1759 cc) and 139 cu. in. (2279 cc) Vauxhall low compression OHC engines introduced from chassis number 2V610007.


  • 18 cwt. models (97100, 97200) replaced by 14/18 cwt. models.
  • petrol engines: only 107.4 cu. in. (1759 cc) and 139 cu. in. (2279 cc) low compression available.
  • (Unclear when OHC 97.5 cu. in. (1598 cc) and 120.5 cu. in. (1975 cc) petrol engines discontinued.)


From chassis number HY600001

1978 range[18]
Model type Model designation Engine Wheelbase GVW (kg/ton) Axle ratio
18 cwt. 97100 1759 cc (107.5 cu. in.) petrol 2692 mm

(106 in)

2235/2.2 8/37
97F00 2064 cc (126 cu. in.) diesel 8/37
22 cwt. 97300 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 2500/2.46 8/37
97G00 2064 cc (126 cu. in.) diesel 8/37
25 cwt. 97500 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 3200 mm

(126 in)

2828/2.78 11/49
97H00 2064 cc (126 cu. in.) diesel 9/47
35 cwt. 97700 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 3375/3.32 9/47
97800 2064 cc (126 cu. in.) diesel 9/47
  • GM diesel engines introduced; Perkins diesel engines discontinued.
  • 97F00 SVOS (Special Version Option Scheme) 8294: 1900 cc diesel engine in place of 2064 cc diesel engine.
  • Electric van: Designation 97300 Code 123 (unclear when introduced).


1979 range[19]
Model type Model designation Engine Wheelbase (mm/inch) GVW Axle ratio
CF220 97100 1759 cc (107.5 cu. in.) petrol 2692 mm

(106 in)

2,235 kg
(2.20 long tons)
97F00 1998 cc (121.9 cu. in.) diesel 8/37
CF250 97300 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 2,500 kg
(2.46 long tons)
97G00 1998 cc (121.9 cu. in.) diesel 8/37
CF280 97500 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 3200mm

(126 in)

2,828 kg
(2.78 long tons)
97H00 1998 cc (121.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/47
CF340 97700 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 3,375 kg
(3.32 long tons)
97K00 1998 cc (121.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/47
CF350 97700 2279 cc (139 cu. in.) petrol 9/47
97K00 1998 cc (121.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/47
  • CF350 only available as chassis cab (/60) or chassis cowl (/90)
  • 2064 cc (126 cu. in.) GM diesel engine discontinued.
  • 2260 cc (137.9 cu. in.) GM diesel engine introduced from chassis number LY600101.


Facelift models introduced (preceded by Facelift dash and wiring introduced 1981)


CF2 models introduced.

1984 range[21]
Model type Model designation Engine Wheelbase GVW Axle ratio
CF220 97100 1979 cc (120.8 cu. in.) petrol 2692mm

(106 in)

2235 kg

(2.2 LT)

97F00 2260 cc (137.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/37
CF250 97300 1979 cc (120.8 cu. in.) petrol 2500

(2.46 LT)

97G00 2260 cc (137.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/37
CF280 97500 1979 cc (120.8 cu. in.) petrol 3200 mm

(126 in)

282 kg

(2.78 LT)

97H00 2260 cc (137.9 cu. in.) diesel 11/49
CF350 97700 1979 cc (120.8 cu. in.) petrol 3375 g

(3.32 LT)

97K00 2260 cc (137.9 cu. in.) diesel 9/47

Opel 1979 cc CIH petrol engine replaced Vauxhall 1759 cc and 2239 cc OHC petrol engine.


  1. ^ "Bedford CF". Bergli Truckstop (in Norwegian).
  2. ^ a b c d Bulmer, Charles, ed. (8 November 1969). "New Bedford Motor caravans [planned]". The Motor (3516): 48.
  3. ^ "A bigger Bedford from Britain". Truck & Bus Transportation: 67–69. May 1970.
  4. ^ "Delivery van is bigger than its predecessor". Freight & Container Transportation: 35–36. September 1970.
  5. ^ a b c Bedford CF Van Owner's Workshop Manual. Sparkford, Somerset: J.H. Haynes & Co Ltd. 1976. ISBN 978-0-85696-163-2.
  6. ^ Howard, Geoffrey (3 June 1971). "Taxi!: Autoproject 3". Autocar. 134. 3923: 10–12.
  7. ^ a b "Bedford CF2: Specifications and Dimensions". Luton: Bedford Commercial Vehicles. 1984: 2. B2147/4/84. Retrieved 2 May 2011. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  8. ^ "Das Bedford Blitz Kastenwagen" (in German). Rüsselsheim, Germany: Adam Opel. September 1979: 12. 90014 (979/30/1). Retrieved 23 December 2010. {{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  9. ^ "End of the road for CF2". Commercial Motor. 166 (4231): 19. 23 July 1987.
  10. ^ Smith, Maurice (19 November 1977). "Can a van ... serve as a ...second car...?....Sherpa, Hi-Ace, VW you ask?". Autocar. 147. 4228: 61–62.
  11. ^ Kearns, Kevin C. (3 October 2014). The Legendary 'Lugs Branigan' – Ireland's Most Famed Garda: How One Man became Dublin's Tough Justice Legend. Gill & Macmillan Ltd. ISBN 978-0-71715-937-6 – via Google Books.
  12. ^ Quinn, James (April 2005). "'Lugs' Branigan". History Ireland. Vol. 13, no. 2.
  13. ^ "IBC Vehicles denies Isuzu replacement". Commercial Motor. Retrieved 24 February 2022.
  14. ^ "Bristol Brigand (1982 - 1993)". Retrieved 19 February 2022.
  15. ^ Vauxhall Motors TS946 December 1969, TS983/1 February 1970, TS984/1 May 1970.
  16. ^ Vauxhall Motors TS1077 March 1972, PS213 October 1978
  17. ^ Vauxhall Motors TS983/9 March 1973, TS984/7 March 1973
  18. ^ Vauxhall Motors PS639 1978, 1980, 1981, 1986
  19. ^ Vauxhall Motors TS1136/4 February 1979, PS639 1980, 1981, 1986
  20. ^ Vauxhall Motors TS1136/6 August 1982, TS1282/1 September 1983
  21. ^ Bedford Commercial Vehicles TS1234 1984, PS762 1986, 1990, B2148 June 1984

External links[edit]

Video clips