Although it looks tougher than its nickname might suggest, this 1956 Bedford RL has been living a life of leisure for a lot longer than it served in the military. After fighting fires for over 10 years as a member of the British Army, this “Green Goddess” has been dutifully watering the gardens at the U.K.’s Cornbury Park Estate.
You could say the Green Goddess has a green thumb.
It is among dozens of vehicles that will cross the virtual auction block at Bonhams’ online event May 30. Sold without reserve, the Bedford RL carries an estimate of $6200–$12,000.
According to the 360 Car Museum, the RL is based on the Bedford SCL, a civilian seven-ton truck. The military version received all-wheel drive and bigger wheels to increase ground clearance.
“Originally conservatively rated at three tons,” 360 writes, “all RL GS (general service) trucks in British Military service were, at a late stage in their service lives, re-rated at four tons without any mechanical modifications—the weight referring to its rated cross-country payload weight.”
RLs were powered by a 110-horsepower, 4.9-liter inline-six engine, mated to a four-speed manual transmission. The last one rolled off the Bedford Vehicles production line in the early 1970s. A total of 74,000 were produced.
According to Bonhams, the RL on offer (chassis #7559) is “well maintained and generally in good order.” It shows 3587 miles on the odometer and carries a “Vendor Score” of 78/100.
“The Bedford RL ‘Green Goddess’ has played a significant role in British military and social history, standing in when required in civilian life while firmly remaining part of the Army,” Bonhams writes. “Down [through] the years, many have been sold off, with a large number ending up in the hands of collectors who have continued to maintain military levels of maintenance and preservation.
“This model remains in the very best of condition, its paint and generous-sized bodywork in very good order. No longer fighting fires, it has spent the past few years keeping its pumps busy on the Cornbury Park estate, where it has been used for plant watering… Potentially a highly usable classic with room for plenty of people, there is no getting away from this RL’s big-hearted character.”
How much green will it take to buy the Green Goddess? We’ll have to wait and see.