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What's in the Van? - 5th March 2023

Bedford & Huntingdon

A nice full van this week, and I'm out again on the 7th for more......

What's in the Van

Today I headed east, up the A34 to Bicester then across the A41 past Buckingham, through Milton Keynes, across the M1 and picked up the A421 past Bedford and up the A1 to Huntingdon. A nice easy trip in light Sunday traffic.

I was delighted to visit an old friend today at Huntingdon. Michael has been a customer since the very early days of Little Wheels and like a lot of collectors periodically sells some models to make way for more new items, which is really just how I started Little Wheels.

A couple of times a year I get a call from Michael and nip across to his place and buy his surplus. So today I got a very nice selection of 1:50 scale trucks, 1:43 scale cars and some NASCAR racers. It was great to catch up with Michael again and have a good natter about cars over a cup of tea, I love the stories my customers tell me. Today he was telling me about a trip to the Spa circuit in Belgium back in the 1950s to watch Stirling Moss race in the Grand Prix. He and Andrew from Torquay could no doubt swap some tales.

What's in the Van?

I headed back towards Bedford and on the way began to muse on names and where they come from and the reason my van has a griffin on the front. I've mentioned before that I listen to history podcasts and talking books as I potter around the country, well I learnt recently that the griffin is there because King John did not trust his barons.

Back in the 12th century if an English king wanted to fight the French, as they usually did, he called on his barons to provide the soldiers. However John could picture himself at the front of a non-existent army, as his barons refused to follow him, so he hired mercenary companies to do his fighting for him. One of these was led by Falkes de Bréauté. Falkes had two manors gifted him by John, one in Lambeth in London which became known as Falks Hall, corrupted over time to Vauxhall, the other was Luton in Bedfordshire.

Little Wheels Museum

Vauxhall Ironworks in 1903

The Vauxhall Iron Works began trading in 1857 in Wandsworth Rd in Vauxhall, London, later they diversified into marine engines and pumps and built their first motor car in 1903. Two years later they moved to larger premises in Luton, Bedfordshire. Someone at the company had a sense of history as they chose the griffin, badge of Falkes de Bréauté, as their trade mark.

Vauxhall Works, Luton
Vauxhall works at Luton in 1914

In 1925 Vauxhall was acquired by General Motors from the US who decided to add commercial vehicles to the offer. Initially these were Chevrolet trucks imported as kits from Canada. They eventually became a separate British made and designed range under the name 'Bedford', which began to be used for all of Vauxhall's trucks and vans.

By 1987 the only truck remaining in the range was a development of the old TK which had been around since 1959, and these were only bought by the Military. GM sold this part of the business and the Bedford name with it, rebranding the remaining light commercials 'Vauxhall', which is why my van is not a Bedford. Funnily enough the first vehicle I drove on the road with 'L' plates, nearly 50 years ago was a Bedford CF van my father used on his dairy farm for the milk round in the nearby town of Ulverston. So 50 years on I'm still looking at the same griffin on the steering wheel!

Bedford CF Van
Bedford CF Van like my father's

So there I was heading for Bedford to meet Verity and her brothers who are busy clearing their late father's flat. he was a super collector, not just cars but soldiers, coins, you name it.

I was there to pick up his collection of about 100 1:18 scale cars and his vintage Corgi, Dinky and Matchbox toys.

What's in the Van?
Some of the 1:18 scale cars

There's a lot of classic American cars, plenty of American Muscle and I can see a couple of Sun Stars back there. I'm looking forward to lots of TikTok videos of these when Phil gets his hands on them. The condition is superb.

What's in the Van?

There were six black briefcases full of a mixture of vintage toys and Atlas Editions re-releases. I'm liking the look of that Dinky Vega coach and it's the one with the flashing indicators. There are display cases on the walls of the flat full of Vanguards and other similar 1:43 scale cars - once they are boxed up I will be back!

So a nice easy jog home and Suzi can deal with these back at the warehouse in the morning.

What's in the Van? - Home

2nd February 2023 - Gloucester & Hereford

9th February 2023 - Nottinghamshire & Lincolnshire

16th February 2023 - Devon & Dorset

23rd February 2023 - Little Wheels Museum