Of 24 new models released by Corgi in their first calendar year of production,1956, 6 were Bedford CA vans. Corgi Classics also got great mileage from the Bedford CA from the 1990s on, follow this link to see them elsewhere in the Little Wheels Museum: Corgi Classics Bedford CA
In 1959 the casting was updated to match the facelifted 1:1 Bedford van by giving it a one-piece windscreen, a new grille and some other detail changes including adding the lateral ribs to the roof. At this time a replacement newspaper van was brought out; No.421 'Evening Standard' in black.
There were 13 versions of the Bedford CA from 1956 through to 1961, more if you count the AA van which was in both castings under the same number. The Bedford CA remained in production until 1963 and must have been the most prolific of the tin-bottoms. A Corgi icon. The last of all was the Military Utilicon Ambulance.
The first Corgi Bedford CA Van was the Daily Express version in 1956 (403), with very many more to come over the next ten years or so, this van has free-wheeling axles. The Express van stayed in the range until 1960, the colour was always blue.
The KLG Plugs van (403M) was released in 1956 and remained in the range until 1960. It is always red, always has the mechanical flywheel friction motor and is always on the first version of the CA casting with the split windscreen. Sales were not huge so prices now will always be good.
The Dormobile 'Utilicon' Personnel Carrier was released in year one of the Corgi brand with both freewheeling axles (404) and the mechanical flywheel friction motor (404M). These early releases were in the first casting with the split windscreen and the earlier style radiator grille.
The Dormobile conversion put windows in the sides of the van to make a crew bus. It is quite a nice model really and I was surprised to see metallic paint this early in the life of the brand, especially on such a mundane vehicle. Although as this was the 797th Corgi model I had collected I should not have been surprised by anything in the Corgi range. Putting the whole Corgi story together has been such a journey and I've learnt so much about the thinking of the people behind the brand. Clever, innovative and brave entrepreneurs and engineers with a genuine passion for what they were doing. Always it is that passion that makes one company stand out from the herd and Corgi really stood out from the herd. (if you can have a herd of dogs, 'pack' perhaps)
In 1959 the mechanical version (404M) was dropped and a new, updated casting was released to reflect the changes made by Bedford to the 1:1 full size vehicle. A one-piece windscreen was introduced, the updated grille and some other minor changes to the casting. The colour was changed to two-tone to reflect the two-tone Corgi passenger car models launched at the same time.
Colours for the freewheeling van are white/cream, metallic maroon and turquoise. The 1959 release is yellow with a blue roof, sometimes it is just the top of the roof which is blue, sometimes the roof pillars are also blue. As yet I have not been able to find any of the two-tone vans. The mechanical version is found in light blue (described as sea blue, teal or turquoise), or metallic maroon. neither version gets a premium over the other but these are not that easy to find and will cost.
The values for the early casting are fairly consistent - the later blue and yellow version gets a significant premium.
There are three 'Fire Engines'. The green one (405) is the original casting (split screen, smooth roof) without a friction motor and having AFS decals. There is another one contemporary to 405 in red with 'Fire Dept' logos (405M) which is the same casting and has a friction motor. No 423 is the later casting (one piece windscreen & moulded roof) in red with 'Fire Dept' logos and no friction motor
The 405 Utilicon Fire Tender was released in 1956 and remained in the range until 1960. It is either bright green or dark green and both colours fetch a similar sort of value, both are hard to find and will attract a high price. The mechanical flywheel friction motor version , 405M, was also released in 1956 and remained in the range until 1959. It was only available in red, the ladder being silver or black. Like all these early models it is sought after and will never be cheap. The updated version (423) was released in 1960 and deleted in 1962.
408 AA Road Service
The AA Services Bedford was always No 408, but the casting changed over time when Bedford gave the old CA a facelift. I'm old enough to remember this happening. Most delivery men to our farm who used vans used the Bedford CA and I remember the gradual change as they replaced their vehicles. Gradually the old one (which always reminded me of a pig for some reason) was replaced by the new smarter one with a mesh grille rather than the open bars of the early one.
Both castings are illustrated below, the differences being that the early one had a split screen, larger openings in the grille and a plain roof. The later ones had transverse ridges in the roof, presumably to reduce drumming. Later Corgis of course will have moved from the early flat hubs to the spun hubs, but that is a less reliable method for differentiating between the models as the change in casting was not exactly concurrent with the change in wheel type.
The Bedford AA Van was released in June 1957 in the early casting with the split windscreen. In 1959 the casting was changed. The new casting has a one-piece windscreen and had ridges cast in the roof. The radiator grille detail was also changed. The new casting remained in production until 1963. Later releases in the second casting with turned hubs tend to get better values.
412 Utilecon Ambulance
Like the AA Service Van the St Johns Ambulance was carried on into the new casting without a change in model number. It began life in the split-screen version and continued into the Mk2 single piece windscreen model.
Ambulances like these in the St Johns livery were a common site at country shows, perhaps there should have been a 'Gymkhana' gift set with the Land-Rover & Horse Box, an ambulance like this, a rider-less horse, a set of jumps and a dressing station.
The Bedford Ambulance was released in November 1957 and after a change in casting remained in the range until 1960. It is always cream with St Johns Ambulance decals however there is a factory error piece known with 'Home Services' labels on the front of the van. Values tend to be good, higher for the later casting with the one-piece windscreen.
421 Evening Standard
This is the upgraded newspaper van, with the single-piece windscreen and upgraded radiator grille. Originally it was 'Daily Express. When it was switched to the new casting the Evening Standard took over. No421 was made from June 1960 through to 1963. As with most of the two-tone Bedford CAs the top colour could be masked just to do the roof or sometimes it comes down to just below the bottom of the windows. The version with just the top of the roof painted silver is valued more highly than the half and half version. If you are very lucky you may find this van in blue with 'AVRO BODE' stickers, these are rare and expensive.
422 Corgi Toys
There were many, many variants on the good old Bedford CA van, and this was one of the last. It uses the later casting with the one-piece screen and the ribbed roof. It was a nice piece of marketing by Corgi to use one of their own products to advertise the brand and to promote their change of corporate image, bringing in the yellow & blue theme, as opposed to the old plain blue/grey. This van came in a few different variations of two-tone yellow & blue, some blue at the top, some at the bottom. sometimes the secondary colour comes down to the waistline, sometimes it is just on the roof.
They are very hard to find and expensive, the versions with blue at the bottom and yellow at the top are very rare and will cost you a lot of money if you can find one
414 Military Ambulance
Yet another version of the perennial Bedford CA van. This is the last release though, I make it the fifteenth if you count the re-releases of the AA van and the St Johns Ambulance as new versions. This one actually replaced the St Johns Ambulance in the range. It was a bit out of place in the 1961 range with its lack of interior detail and its tin base. However this van was ubiquitous in the UK right through the sixties and even into the seventies until the almighty Transit showed the CA and its successor the CF the way to do vans properly. I learned to drive in a CF and would like a die cast as a memento, but the Dinky effort, the only one available, looks nothing like the real van,
Ramsay has this in two versions, both military green, but with suspension on one of them, I find this a bit hard to believe as I don't think the Corgi CA ever had suspension. As Corgi Bedford CAs go though, this one is not that valued or scarce. It was deleted in 1963.
Shown in order of release
|Corgi Toys 403; Bedford CA Van ‘Daily Express’, Blue||
Corgi Toys 403M; Bedford CA Van Mechnical; ‘KLG Plugs’
|Corgi Toys 404; Bedford CA Dormobile Personnel Carrier, Metallic Maroon||Corgi Toys 404; Bedford CA Dormobile Personnel Carrier, Cream||Corgi Toys 404M; Bedford CA Dormobile Personnel Carrier Mechanical, Teal Blue|
|Corgi Toys 405; Bedford CA Utilicon AFS, Bright Green, AFS Decal||Corgi Toys 405M; Bedford CA Utilicon Mechanical, Fire Dept, Red Silver Ladder||Corgi Toys 408; Bedford CA Van 'AA Road Services', Split Windscreen||Corgi Toys 408; Bedford CA Van 'AA Road Services', One-Piece Windscreen, Turned Hubs||Corgi Toys 408; Bedford CA Van 'AA Road Services', One-Piece Windscreen, Spun Hubs|
|Corgi Toys 412; Bedford CA Utilecon; St Johns Ambulance||Corgi Toys 421; Bedford CA; Van ‘Evening Standard’||Corgi Toys 423; Bedford CA Bus, Fire Department, Turned Hubs||Corgi Toys 422; Bedford CA; Van ‘Corgi Toys’, Yellow, Blue Roof||Corgi Toys 422; Bedford CA; Van ‘Corgi Toys’, Blue Lower Body, Yellow Upper Body|
|Corgi Toys 414; Bedford CA Military Ambulance; Olive Drab, Red Cross Stickers|