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J & M Classics Bradford Van

This review of the J & M Classics Bradford Van model appeared in The Diecast Collector magazine. September 2012.


New White Metal

Bradford Van Classic

Some fine new recent releases come under Richard Carlson’s scrutiny.

Bradford Van


The latest release from J&M Classics is of a vehicle rather removed from its usual subject matter (Alvis Healey and similar sporting machinery), but it is a little gem, the popular Jowett Bradford van.  It fits into the range by partnering the Jowett Jupiter sports models that have proved good sellers.

The Bradford van was introduced by Jowett in 1946 as an economical and reliable light commercial.  Powered by the venerable 1005cc flat twin that first powered a Jowett in 1934, it had a distinctive clattery engine sound, and developed 19bhp, which translated to performance that could only be described as adequate for the time.  Though the chassis was new, everything else was traditional, with cart-spring suspension and a 1930s style fascia.

A ‘utility’ model was introduced in 1947, this being an estate car version of the van, with side windows and rear seats, and there was a pick-up version as well.  Chassis/cab units were also supplied so that independent coachbuilders could produce their own variants and these kits were popular in the all important export markets of the time.  Deluxe versions of all variants offered a plated radiator grille, compared with the painted one of the standard model, a second windscreen wiper and small running boards.  A seat for the passenger remained an optional extra, however.

In 1947, the engine was upgraded to give 25bhp, when performance was improved to give a top speed of 53mph, and an 0-50 time of 47.6 seconds. The engine was willing, flexible and economical, and the Bradford was popular in the vehicle-starved early post WWII years.

Bodies for the Bradford (as well as the Jowett Jupiter saloon) were always made by Briggs Motor Bodies, an Independent firm, in its factory in Doncaster, not far from the city of Bradford where Jowett was based.  When, in 1953, the purchase tax on new cars was cut from two-thirds to a half, it led to a surge in demand, and in the resulting scrabble for production capacity, the Ford Motor Company bought Briggs.  It only needed Briggs facilities In Dagenham, adjacent to its own factories, and sold the Doncaster unit to Fisher Ludlow another independent.  Fisher Ludlow was, however, soon taken over by BMC, who needed all the capacity for its own products.  Jowett could not find another supplier, nor could it expand its own body-making facility (it built the bodies for the Jupiter), so production of the Bradfords ceased in 1953 after some 41,000 in total had been made.

The new J & M model is well cast, and catches the lines and stance of the original to perfection.  For the first time on a J & M model, the wheels all freely rotate.  There are four versions from which to choose, all with correct black chassis and wings, and a black fabric-effect roof.  There is green bodywork  In the livery of ‘Roper’s Florists’ of Keighley,  yellow In the livery of ‘Wm Morrison’ the  Bradford-based supermarket chain, plain  red and plain blue.  All are based on actual restored vehicles, the Morrisons one in particular being seen quite frequently around northern classic vehicle rallies (it is still owned and operated by the company).

Finish on all of them is very good, and the green ‘Ropers’ model sports the plated grille of the deluxe version, though no other deluxe features.  Inside, the single driver’s seat is in tan, the steering wheel is black, and there is a neat accurate dashboard casting - though it’s difficult to see through the small side windows!  The underside carries good detail of the chassis, drive train, axles, suspension, fuel tank and exhaust, with the pipe extending out under the rear.

All in all, a lovely little model, and highly recommended for lovers of vehicles of this period.  Excellent value too at around £90.  Plans are afoot to release the utility and pick up versions in the near future.


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