Bedford a labour of love

02:47, Feb 19 2014
1967 bedford j1
The 1967 Bedford J1 truck.
1967 bedford j1
A recently rebuilt deck means a lot of material is now loaded and unloaded.
1967 bedford j1
Nothing's been tinkered with to modify the Bedford's motor.
1967 bedford j1
You wouldn't want to be rear-ended by this.
1967 bedford j1
The Bedford's horn features quite a charming design.
1967 bedford j1
The Bedford's petrol tank is under the deck on the right-hand side.
1967 bedford j1
There's no power steering to be found here.

Some things you just can't put a price tag on and that's exactly how Oamaru man Eric Spittal feels about his 1967 Bedford J1 truck.

"It means much, much more to me than dollars," he says.

Mr Spittal has owned his Bedford, which features a rather nice shade of red, for the past 25 years and he's still as fond of it today as he was all those years ago.

eric spittal
PRIDE AND JOY: Eric Spittal finds his vehicle a joy to drive.

"I'd always wanted a truck and this one came up for $500. It was in a bad way and I wanted it, I didn't want anything bigger and I've been very happy with it."

While Mr Spittal has "been through it" from end to end and spent countless hours on the chassis, he's done virtually nothing to the motor.

He's done some extra work on it recently, after a load of deer posts caused some damage.


"I've just recently rebuilt the truck deck and my next project is sorting the rear differential out, but it's getter harder and harder to get parts and they are very expensive ... it's pretty reliable, but there's always fine tuning and tweaking to be done."

Mr Spittal has certainly put time and money into his pride and joy but doesn't consider his efforts to have been overly taxing physically or financially.

"I love history and I love old things. I've put hundreds of hours into it, God knows how many. I think people appreciate how much work and effort goes into things like this. "It gives me great joy when I'm driving it ... I don't know what it is about it, but it sounds so good and drives really well."

Mr Spittal likes to take his Bedford for a run at least once a week, as he doesn't really like the idea of it sitting idle for too long, given the fact the brakes tend to seize up a little without its regular drive.

When he does get the Bedford out and about, a lot of time goes into projects that benefit the wider Waitaki community.

"I use it for a lot of Lions Club projects," Mr Spittal says.

"I do things like carrying the barbecues for the annual picnic for the freezing works in January and I've leaded it up with bits for the ship at the playground at the harbour, things like that."

He says he often has people stopping to have a look and ask him questions about his vehicle, which he is only too happy to

answer. While happy to talk about it, he's at his most content when he's behind the wheel.

"They can motor along, these things. I just cruise along really. Happiness to me is no other bugger on the road and me cruising along at 60 or 70 kilometres an hour ... I'm pretty proud it's nearly 50 years old and still going."

South Canterbury