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Detroit Diesel-powered Bedford TM...a real 'Muscle Truck'! The return of John H to Biglorryblog...

  • 08 May 2010
  • By Biglorryblog

TM Rigid.JPG

Call that a wrecker? Nah mate THIS is a wrecker!  All hail to Biglorryblog's 'Man North 'o'' The Border'  John Henderson who I am delighted to hear is now on the road to recovery after the dreaded lurghi! And he says: "Morning Brian, do you remember the 'Bedford TM: The Muscle Trucks' advertising slogan from the 1970s? Well, it was ringing in my ears this week after I was lucky enough to get a drive in Kerr & Smith's TM 6x6 recovery motor! My arms and legs are still recovering, but it was all good stuff at the time. This left-hand-drive special was bought by Kerr & Smith's co-founder, Jim Smith just as the Bedford factory was closing and it's fitted with a 313hp Detroit Diesel 6V-92TA engine. Jim reckons the nine-speed gearbox is of ZF origin, but if my memory serves me correctly the larger TM's usually had Fuller 'boxes (perhaps the BLB army can clarify this?). Now click through here for more!

TM Steps.JPG 
John continues: "After ascending with care to the left-hand seat, this TM is an 'interesting' drive on the road, with frequent gear changes and many steering corrections required. Although the latter system is power assisted, you'd never know and the biceps take a real pounding when cornering!"

TM Interior.JPG

"The clutch operation is heavy, but predictable and a solid brake pedal is matched in resistance value by a throttle that requires a heavy right boot to engage. Kerr & Smith keep the Bedford for off-road recovery and there's not much it can't winch out." You know John, I reckon Jerry Burley would be prepared to make an offer for this---just right for him in Uganda!
TM- Brochure Page.jpg 
And as a real treat John says: "I've also attached a relevant TM brochure page from the day, showing a nice cut-away drawing of the Detroit Diesel."

TM- Detriot Demon.jpg

"Last but not least in the same vein, a picture form my collection taken in the early 1980s at Leith Docks. 'Detroit Demon,' belonged to Press Gas Conversions of Newcastle and I remember waiting for about an hour just to hear it pull away! It was music to my ears! John"


  • Michael J. Ponsonby BA said

    Good Afternoon Brian, The Bedford TM.3800 and 4400 trucks fitted with the Detroit Diesel V8 and Cummins NH14-290E engines were normally factory fitted with the Fuller 9 speed transmission. ( Model number RTO.9505 from memory). So if this 6x6 truck depicted above is now fitted with a ZF transmission, it must have been a retro-fitted, as this gearbox was never a factory option from Bedford Trucks, pre-1986. The Detroit V6 engine normally fitted in the Bedford TM.3250 truck , was the older 71 series engine, not the later 92 range. So I can honestly say I never saw the Detroit Diesel V6-92TA fitted in a TM truck at all, so this must be a very special specification indeed ? As this TM 6x6 wrecker is LHD and of 6x6 configuration, it may have been a Military order for an overseas client ? Kind Regards Mike Ponsonby BA

  • Vic Hungerford said

    All the TM Bedfords I've ever seen in NZ had Fuller gearboxes, but then so did virtually every other make of heavy truck sold here at the time. Surely no one would ever replace a Fuller with a ZF box, unless the ZF was being given away free with a packet of corn flakes! I have certainly seen them fitted with 92-series engines and as John says that DD brochure scan was a Bedford brochure, they must have been an option.

  • K. Kele said

    Nice pics :) I like that last pic though, although it aint, it kinda reminds me of an Australian-Built Atkinson F4870 (drivetrain wise).

  • BigLorryBlog said

    I thought it about time Biglorryblog threw in his two pennorth! The TM certainly did get the 8V92 engine---as a (nominal) 440hp left-hooker and sold in Italy as the TM4400, marketed as 'Il Griffone' (The Griffin). And it did surprisingly well there too at a time when Italy was unusual in having a 44-tonne weight limit. Indeed GM/Bedford had quite a profitable little export business to Italy back then. I know because in the early '80s Bill Brock and I travelled over there for Commercial Motor to do a story on Italian Bedfords and I ended up taking a shot of the TM4400 in Rome with the Coliseum in the background....the Italian guys from GM suggested it would make a great backdrop (which it did) but when we arrived at 11:55am in the morning the gatekeeper was not in the mood to let us anywhere near the ancient structure---or at least close enough to get it in the background for a decent photo. However, after a prolonged conversation with the guys from GM they came back to Bill and I and said: "We wait here for maybe 5-10 minutes, he goes to his lunch soon, and he says what we do after that is not his business!" Sure enough five minutes later he stepped out of his gate office, and we pushed backed the gates and drove the TM into a large area immediately in front of the Coliseum and got some great shots. I must see if I can dig them up some time. But the bottom line is yes you could get an 8V92 in a TM...even it it wasn't a right-hooker!

  • Ian Rowe said

    Came across this in a random surfing moment. The Detroit was a great engine; I had the good fortune to do my apprenticeship at Arlington Motors, Bedford in the early 80's. Because GM had a base in Milton Keynes, we looked after their fleet of TM's with the Detroit. They were brilliant to work on, and I can still (just about) remember how to tune them up - somewhat effectively as on one road test I could keep ahead of a Audi 80 Sport, driven by one of my colleagues, until 80ish mph!! Took some speed shifting though! Happy days.

  • keith said

    I used to drive a Bedford TM4400 with a Detroit diesel engine,it started life as a demonstrator and was on loan to the Marlborough Racing team back in 1981 the registration number was BBM520X. when I drove it I worked for a small operator pulling a powder tanker and it was a fantastic truck in its day,the sound when the engine burst into life was like music to the ear.!

  • Mike Henly said

    Great photos I ran a fleet of TMs in the UK in the 1980s I had four 3250 v6 units and one 38 ton v8 wide cab this unit was fitted with a ten speed spicer spliter box as was most of the detroit powerd v8s in the uk. Fantastic motor to drive and was a real flyer 80 mph no problems.

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