The 1935 Ford BB van which played a starring role in the hit tv sitcom Dad’s Army has been repaired at the same factory in which it was built more than 80 years ago. The television icon has been the subject of renewed interest ahead of the feature length film remake of the original series starring Sir Michael Gambon, Catherine Zeta Jones and Bill Nighy, which was released today.
The van made its screen debut on 11 September 1969 and was a regular fixture throughout the programme’s nine-year run before eventually being sold at auction in 2012, when it was bought by the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford for £63,100 thanks to the generosity of its benefactors.
Though the old Ford was in fine cosmetic condition, a full mechanical overhaul was carried out by apprentices at the Dagenham plant, which included rebuilding the engine, replacing the clutch and installing new wiring looms. The repairs were carried out in one of the oldest buildings in the complex, which is now used to house the firm’s heritage fleet.
“This vehicle has a special place in British entertainment history, and is enjoyed by the many visitors to the Dad’s Army Museum,” said spokesman Stuart Wright. “It’s fantastic to see the van operational again and we hope it will capture the imagination of the younger visitors less familiar with Dad’s Army, as well as triggering happy memories for the older generation.”
Paul Neighbour, Ford Dagenham Engine Plant manger, said: “It’s been wonderful to see the van back at Dagenham after all these years, and we’re delighted that our apprentices have had the opportunity to get involved with returning such an iconic vehicle to the road.”
The Ford BB truck was among the first commercial vehicles to be produced at Ford\s Dagenham site, which started production in 1931.