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SLIDER: 1951 Bradford van

This lovely little van was seen at the recent Air Fair at the AVRO Heritage Museum on the former Woodford Aerodrome site in Cheshire.  We’ll have a News item soon on some of the other cars we saw there.

The Bradford light van was built from 1946 to 1953 by Jowett Cars Limited of Idle, near Bradford.  It was based on the pre-war Jowett Eight, and was the first Jowett to be re-introduced after the Second World War.  It was a very basic vehicle, but its fuel economy and simplicity appealed to users in the post-war period of austerity.

Looking under the bonnet (which we did), there are immediate reminders of the Jowett Javelin, because the Bradford’s engine has horizontally-opposed cylinders.  But, unlike the Javelin (made from 1947 to 1953), the Bradford has only two side-valve cylinders; the Javelin has four, with overhead valves.

The chassis was unsophisticated, with half-elliptic leaf springs front and rear, live rear axle and beam front axle.  The engine, of 1,005 cc capacity, produced only 19 bhp, and drove through a 3-speed crash gearbox.  But in 1950 the engine was upgrade to 25 bhp, and synchromesh was added to top gear.  In this form, top speed was 53 mph.

The initial 10 cwt van version seen in our picture was also joined in 1946 by an estate car known as a Utility.  A 1948 maroon example is just visible here behind the van.  A 4-light van was also offered, with windows but no rear seats, to avoid the very high purchase tax on private cars at the time.  A ‘light lorry’ version was in fact what we would call a pickup, and outside coachbuilders made chassis-cab and other special versions, popular at home and abroad.

The owners of these two Bradfords were clearly delighted with these charming vans.  They may be slow, but they are practical classic vehicles that give much enjoyment.  And one advantage of the dark environs at the rear of the van is that a modern tablet can be propped up there in the shade, to watch England vs. Sweden in the quarter finals of the 2018 World Cup.  So that’s even more enjoyment!


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