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The OB was introduced in the summer of 1939 by Bedford as part of a new range of models, which included the "O" with characteristic "bullnose" grille. The passenger version was named the "OB" and Duple modified the Hendonian body to fit the chassis, which at 14ft 6 ins, was longer than the WTB. But the new model was to enjoy only a very short initial production run - with the advent of World War II, Bedford production was turned over to the war effort, with only 73 chassis built, 52 of which were old in this country, which is why the pre-war OB was very rare.
The 28 horsepower engine, which had been introduced a year earlier in 1938, was based on the model "O" goods chassis and the six cylinder overhead valve power unit with a capacity of 3519cc developed 72 bhp at 3000 rpm.
It was not until after the end of hostilities that the Bedford OB with Duple Vista bodywork was to become a familiar sight on the British roads.
Production of the post-war design began in 1946, well before other types of coaches resumed production. The short lived pre-war Duple body design differed in several respects to the post-war design, although the construction was broadly similar. A temporary material shortage led to some specific changes - such as the deletion of the characteristic "flash" from the side panels which produced a noticeably different appearance.
The ash framework was reinforced with steel and the floor made from hardwood with softwood tongued and grooved boarding with the exception of the cab area which was finished with alloy chequerplate. Seating capacity was normally 29 with overhead luggage racks provided for passengers, whilst the rear luggage boot was also used to store the spare wheel.
An OB would easily reach speeds of 40mph, unlike many other buses/coaches of its time, and even 60 mph was not unheard of - (down hill in silent 7th with a good wind behind you!)
Brake efficiency was another feature of the OB and, compared with other vehicles, was a real joy to drive - especially in wet or slippery conditions. Double declutching was a technique to be mastered and hilly routes around the country ensured the driver had plenty of practice!
Despite the fuel shortages, 1945 to 1950 were a boom period for the bus and coach industry and the OB played a significant part in the growth of the British coach industry.
The Vista coachwork remained Duple's standard OB body until production of the OB chassis ceased in the early 1950's.
In 1945, the price of a complete coach, including finishing in a two colour livery, was £ 1314.10s for a 27 seater and £ 1325.10s for a twenty nine seater.
The OB is remembered by many for its characteristic gearbox whine which was a familiar sound all over the country. Even today many recall their happy memories of journeys to the seaside, Sunday school outings or just the regular school run and always mention the all so familiar "whine"!
From the end of the war until 1950 a total of 12,693 OB's were built and in 2007 there are approximately 80 known OB's still on the road - some of them still earning their living with a PSV nearly 65 years on.
There are also a few being restored at this moment in time and if you know of any Bedford vehicles that are currently being restored, do let us know so that we can update our database. Please contact Tim using the Contact Us page.