When Ford launched its game-changing Transit in 1965, it was the death knell for most of the other UK-built vans of similar size. Sales of the ageing Bedford CA took a plunge and as a result, the Bedford CF was launched.

Wags said CF stood for ‘Copy Ford’, but nothing could be further from the truth, because the development of the CF was heavily influenced by its US parent company, General Motors. Auto-Sleepers wanted to build its first coachbuilt motorhome to compete with the mega-popular CI/CIM/Autohomes Motorhome and Travelhome. The CF was selected to underpin the CB22 – a Luton overcab design, traditionally built using a wooden skeleton frame, clad externally with aluminium. A significant feature of the CB22 was a moulded GRP roof.

Inside a 1982 Auto-Sleeper SV 100 photographed in 2006
Interior of the 1982 Auto-Sleeper SV 100 photographed in 2006

Its success gave Auto-Sleepers the idea to build GRP monocoque coachbuilts. Initially designed by the legendary William Towns of Aston Martin/Lagonda fame, first off the blocks and superseding the CB22 was the SV100 (pictured), followed by the Clubman. The latter had a similar exterior but a different forward lounge, opting for twin inward-facing settees immediately behind the cab seats. These CFs were the forerunners of 25 years of A-S monocoque coachbuilts on a variety of underpinnings.

Auto-Sleepers remains a well-regarded name in the industry nowadays, making it onto our list of the best motorhome manufacturers. A recent ‘van from the brand, the Auto-Sleeper Burford Duo, particularly impressed us, with the solidly built low-profile ideal for two on tour.

Key information about the Auto-Sleeper SV 100 and Clubman on Bedford CF

1981-1986 Auto-Sleeper SV 100 and Clubman on Bedford CF converted by Auto-Sleepers, Willersey, Broadway, Worcestershire, UK.

  • Drivetrain: 2.1-litre diesel or 1.8-litre/2.3-litre OHC petrol engine (slanted for a lower bonnet line), rear-wheel drive, manual or automatic transmission.
  • Overall length: 4.88m (16’ 0”).
  • Cost: (1984) £13,300.

Pictured: 1982 model photographed in 2006

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