Bedford HA

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Bedford HA
Bedford HA light van 1256cc first registered January 1981.JPG
Manufacturer Bedford (General Motors)
Also called Bedford Handi-Van (Australia)
Production 1963–1983
Assembly Luton, Bedfordshire, England
Body and chassis
Class Light commercial vehicle
Body style Car derived van
Layout Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
  • 1057 cc OHV I4
  • 1159 cc OHV I4
  • 1256 cc OHV I4
Transmission 4-speed manual
Wheelbase 91.5 in (2,324 mm)
Length 150.2 in (3,815 mm)
Width 59.4 in (1,509 mm)
Height 59.5 in (1,511 mm)
Kerb weight
  • 1,540–1,575 lb (699–714 kg) (1965)
  • 1,651–1,706 lb (749–774 kg) (1977)[1]
Successor Vauxhall/Bedford Astravan

The Bedford HA was a car derived van introduced in 1963 by Bedford, based on the Vauxhall Viva (HA) family car. It was also known as the Bedford Beagle in estate form and Bedford Roma in small campervan form. The Beagle was an officially sanctioned conversion based on the 8 cwt van, carried out by Martin Walter Ltd. (of Folkestone, Kent).[2] The Beagle received rear side windows and a fold-down rear seat; leaving 28 inches (710 mm) of luggage space with the seat in use.[3]


1968 Bedford HA

The Bedford HA was extremely popular with utility companies in the United Kingdom, particularly the Post Office, British Rail,[4] electricity boards, British Telecom, and British Gas. Many other firms such as British European Airways, DER rental, and Meals on Wheels services had large fleets as well. It was the inspiration for Postman Pat's original van. It was originally available in 6 cwt and heavier duty 8 cwt models (payloads of 670 or 900 lb; 300 or 410 kg), with the chassis codes HAE and HAV respectively. Gross vehicle weights were 2,400 and 2,615 lb (1,090 and 1,185 kg) respectively.[2] The 8 cwt had a heavier rear axle, bigger tyres, and a sixth leaf in the rear springs.[5] The 8 cwt was generally better equipped, offering a number of chromed trim parts (bumpers, mirrors, etcetera) and slightly plusher interior fittings.[3] By 1971 the 6 cwt had been downgraded further yet, and now only came with a driver's seat as standard. Conversely, a fold-down rear seat was available as an option.[6]

By the late seventies, the denominations had been changed to HA 110 and HA 130 respectively, with payload ratings of 371 and 546 kg (818 and 1,204 lb).[7] In September 1964, for the 1965 model year, the Viva and HA Van received minor changes such as a quicker steering rack, new door trim, and a modified choke control.[8] In Australia, the Bedford HA was sold as the "Bedford Handi-Van" from 1964 until 1970.


The early 1,057 cc (64.5 cu in) version had a lower compression ratio than the Viva saloon (7.3:1 rather than the usual 8.5:1), producing 47.8 hp (35.6 kW) gross, or 40.3 hp (30.1 kW) net, both at 5200 rpm.[9] In 1967, the HA received the engine of the changed Viva. This 1,159 cc (70.7 cu in) was essentially the same as the earlier powerplant; although net power was down to a claimed 32.2 hp (24.0 kW) at 4600 rpm. It ran on the lowest rated fuel and was fitted with a 17 mm (0.67 in)-bore carburettor for even higher fuel mileage.[10] The later models powered by the 1256 cc engine offered 48 hp (36 kW) gross at 5400 rpm, or 39 hp (29 kW) net at 4600 rpm.[11] By 1977 only net horsepower ratings were offered, with power up to 31.7 kW (42.5 bhp) at 4800 rpm. As for all three generations of HAs, the compression ratio remained 7.3 to 1. For the lighter duty HA 110 there was also an 'Economy' version, with a CD carburettor (constant depression), a redesigned manifold, and a different camshaft. This version offered up to 30% lower fuel consumption, although power did drop to 18 kW (24.4 bhp) at 3800 rpm.[1]

1978 Walker Bodies Bedford HA pick up

The HA soldiered on in production for twenty years, until 1983, where it was supplanted by the short lived Vauxhall Chevette based Bedford Chevanne which was in turn replaced by the Bedford Astravan / Bedford Astramax. Despite the fact that the Vauxhall Viva upon which it was based had gone through two further model generations, the bodywork of the HA van stayed the same until its eventual discontinuation in 1983. The 1,159 cc (70.7 cu in) engine arrived in 1967, followed by a 1,256 cc (76.6 cu in) in 1972. A pickup was also made by Martin Walter (Dormobile) - who also made the Beagle conversion - and by Walker Bodies of Watford. Made in very small numbers (believed to be around 60 in total) only a handful of these survive today: they were originally sold to companies and private buyers directly through Vauxhall/Bedford dealerships.

The BTV[edit]

GM Amigo in Costa Rica

In the early 1970s there were a number of basic vehicles developed for the developing world. Volkswagen (EA489), Citroën (FAF), and many others including General Motors tried to create cheap and basic transport which could be manufactured locally with a minimal up-front investment. GM's effort was developed by General Motors Overseas Operations (GMOO) and was called the BTV ("Basic Transportation Vehicle").[12] It was marketed under a variety of names depending on where it was built.[13] The little truck has a simple body made up entirely of flat surfaces placed atop a basic frame, while most mechanicals and what interior there was derived from the HA. It also uses the HA's 1256 cc low compression engine, here with 37 hp (28 kW), which together with some of the other more complex elements was sent from Vauxhall's Luton plant. The BTV was at one time or another manufactured in Malaysia (as the Bedford Harimau, this was the first iteration to be manufactured, from May 1972[12]), Costa Rica (Amigo), Ecuador (Andino), Paraguay (GM Mitaí), the Philippines (Amigo), and in Portugal (Amigo).[13] It was also available in Indonesia, with slightly different bodywork, as the Bedford Morina.

The Ecuadorean Andino entered production in 1973 and continued until 1976.[14] The Paraguayan Mitaí had its own bodywork which fully enveloped the front wheels, and was only available in red, white, or blue - the colors of their flag. Production was also planned for Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand, Guatemala, and certain other countries. General Motors also built another basic vehicle in the 1970s, the South African Chevrolet Nomad.

HAs in film and TV[edit]

A Bedford HA was used in the filming of the Beiderbecke Trilogy, and in series two of the comedy drama Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and also in the Oscar-winning movie A Fish Called Wanda. Postman Pat drives a similar van in his series.


  1. ^ a b Bedford HA range (brochure), Luton, England: Bedford Commercial Vehicles, Vauxhall Motors Limited, May 1977, pp. 5–6, B/BX 1735/5/77 
  2. ^ a b Olyslager, Piet (1965), "Vauxhall Viva", Motor Manuals no. 66, London, UK: Sunday Times Publications/Olyslager Organisation N.V., p. 3 
  3. ^ a b Olyslager, p. 4
  4. ^
  5. ^ What's a Bedford HA van got... (brochure), Luton, England: Vauxhall Motors Limited, January 1971, pp. 6, 14, B 1336/1/71 
  6. ^ What has a Bedford HA van got..., p. 4
  7. ^ Bedford HA range (1977), p. 2
  8. ^ Olyslager, p. 5
  9. ^ Olyslager, p. 7
  10. ^ What has a Bedford HA van got..., pp. 3, 14
  11. ^ Bedford: 6cwt–22cwt range, Luton, UK: Commercial vehicle sales, Vauxhall Motors Ltd., 1972, p. 8, B1396/2/1972 
  12. ^ a b Bowman, Bill. "1974 Basic Transportation Vehicle". GM Heritage Center. General Motors. Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  13. ^ a b "Bedford HA - BTV (Basic Transport Vehicle)". Vauxpedia. Retrieved 2014-09-25. 
  14. ^ Michelet, Jean Pierre (2012-01-24). "El primer Andino aún sigue rodando" [The first Andino is still on its wheels]. La Hora Nacional (in Spanish). Quito, Ecuador. Retrieved 2014-09-25.