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Bedford VAL 14 six wheel, twin steer coach, Wikipedia

Bedford VAL 14 six wheel, twin steer coach, by Jon Bennett on Flickr & Wikipedia

The Bedford VAL was a type of coach chassis built by Bedford Vehicles in the United Kingdom from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s. It was unusual at the time for its multi-axle design, in a "chinese six" wheelplan, i.e. with two front steering axles.

Originally it was fitted with the Leyland O.400 straight six diesel engine. With this engine, the chassis was designated VAL14.

Over 900 VAL14s were built, from 1963 to 1966, with the largest orders coming from Wallace Arnold of Leeds, Seamarks of Westoning, Everall of Wolverhampton, and Bartons.

Bedford VAL 70 six wheeled coach

Bedford VAL 70 six wheeled coach, (1968-72) at the 2009 Shugborough Hall, Great Haywood Display, by Robert Knight - Flickr.com

The VAL70, was produced from 1967, with the slightly larger 466 cubic inches (7.64 L) engine of Bedford's own manufacture it quickly superseded the VAL14.

Bodywork

The VAL was built with a number of bodies from different coachbuilders. The majority of VAL14s were of Duple or Plaxton origin, although VAL14s were also bodied by several other manufacturers, including Harrington (Harrington Legionnaire bodywork was adopted) and Yeates.

Some VAL14s were given bus bodywork, including 10 by Marshall for British European Airways, and 10 by Strachan for North Western.

The VAL 70s were also made by Duple or Plaxton and were also bodied by several other manufacturers.

In popular culture

The Bedford VAL gained widespread recognition through its use in the film The Italian Job. This vehicle was a Harrington Legionnaire, 'ALR 453B', new in April 1964 to Batten. After modification for the film, the coach went back into coaching, being scrapped in the 1990s.

A Plaxton bodied example, 'URO 913E' featured in the 1967 Beatles film Magical Mystery Tour. This coach was new to Fox, Hayes, in 1967.

Until recently, another Bedford VAL 'SCK 56K' was being used on The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour in Liverpool. Since then, it has been bought by the Running Footman of Suffolk and re-registered as VAL466G. This vehicle has recently been offered for sale on eBay (October 2011).

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