Sunday, March 15, 2009

Wilson's Bedouin Executive GT

From Autocar Magazine, Week ending 17th December 1970

Bedouin Executive GT (by retromotoring)

Rather disappointing engine conversion offers small gains in performance and mpg, and requires premium fuel. Tinted windows for a black world. Tape stereo and radio, and a television option, in an £1,892 10s 6d package deal

PROMPTED BY increasing demand for the more expensive motor caravans, Wilsons introduced earlier this year a number of modifications for the Bedford Bedouin coachbuilt design. All the items are available separately, or the whole caravan may be ordered with an even fuller list of options at a total price of £1,892 10s 6d. In this form it is called the Executive and has a distinctive matt radiator grille. There is also, at £100 extra, a conversion for the 2-litre engine. The Bedouin with the Executive specification in full, and with the GT engine, has been submitted by Wilsons Motor Caravan Centre for a brief test.

To deal first with the engine conversion, we must confess to being a little disappointed. The modifications include a twin-choke Weber carburettor, higher compression ratio and revised induction. For the third time in our experience of the Bedford van, the bonnet release catch was not working, so we were only able to see the engine conversion by removing the cowling in the cab. This is enough to show the difficulty which lack of space makes in any attempt to modify the power unit, and the right angle junction in the air inlet cannot do much for efficient breathing. The table shows the small improvement in performance which resulted, and the gain in fuel consumption was offset by the need to use premium fuel instead of regular.

Not apparent from the figures alone is the fact that the vehicle felt much crisper and more responsive, and it was not until performance figures were taken that it was found that the improvements were more marginal than had been expected.

Air silencing was less effective on the modified engine, and a lot of induction hiss could be heard on light throttle openings, changing to a throaty roar under full power. The power brakes are a useful improvement on the Bedouin.

It is surprising how greatly the tinted windows alter the external appearance, but inside the effect is a little funereal, and the interior is very dark. Whatever the weather, you take your own dull day along with you. However, many people will no doubt value the privacy, especially when eating meals in the caravan, when one feels much less like a goldfish in a bowl. We were informed that the suppliers of the tinted glass have been requested to make it less dark on future production.

This is not the first time that a motor caravan has been offered with a tape stereo unit, but one would have thought that one of the combined tape and radio units would have been preferable to the two separate items listed at a total price of £86. Further, the stereo was not working, and both units were out of reach of the driver. Wilson's now offer Sony portable television as an alternative to the tape stereo and the tinted glass which seems a much more sensible option for a motor caravan. When this option is specified the Executive costs £1,869, showing a reduction of £23 10s 6d. There are difficulties of thief—proofing a television in a motor caravan, but half the battle is for the set always to be stored out of sight when not in use.

In the full specification of the Executive there are a number of lesser items, such as a fire extinguisher, gas refrigerator and tax for four months, in the attempt to offer a really comprehensive specification without extras; and the price has been maintained in spite of an increase in the basic cost of the Bedouin.

The idea of tailor—made modifications for a motor caravan is attractive, and there is considerable scope. This is quite a good start, but we would like to see some more practical refinements, such as the pressurized hot and cold water system of the Landliner, a conversion to servo-assisted disc brakes, and a more effective increase in power in future modifications. No doubt Wilson's will be looking again at the luxury market to see what further developments can be made for even greater comfort and refinement.

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