Leyland Buses-Lorries and British Leyland

Leyland Bus

Leyland Bus was a British bus manufacturer. It emerged from the Rover Group (formerly British Leyland) as a management buyout of the bus business. It was subsequently acquired by Volvo Buses in 1988 and the name finally disappeared in 1993.

300px-DE2817 Leyland bus Leyland Lynx MK2_Cardif Bus_Large

Leyland Buses pictures from Google images

Leyland Motors Ltd

Fate Merged with British Motor Holdings
Successor(s) British Leyland Motor Corporation
Founded 1896
Defunct 1968
Headquarters Leyland, England, UK
Products Bus, Lorry

Leyland Motors Limited was a British vehicle manufacturer of lorries, buses and trolleybuses. It gave its name to the British Leyland Motor Corporation formed when it merged with British Motor Holdings, later to become British Leyland after being nationalised. British Leyland later changed its name to simply BL, then in 1986 to Rover Group.



Leyland Motors has a long history dating from 1896, when the Sumner and Spurrier families founded the Lancashire Steam Motor Company in the town of Leyland in North West England. Their first products included steam lawn mowers.[1] The company’s first vehicle was a 1.5-ton-capacity steam powered van. This was followed by a number of undertype steam wagons using a vertical fire-tube boiler.[2] By 1905 they had also begun to build petrol-engined wagons. The Lancashire Steam Motor Company was renamed Leyland Motors in 1907 when they took over Coulthards of Preston. They also built a second factory in the neighbouring town of Chorley which still remains today as the headquarters of the LEX leasing and parts company.

In 1920, Leyland Motors produced the Leyland 8 luxury touring car, a development of which was driven by J.G. Parry-Thomas at Brooklands. Parry-Thomas was later killed in an attempt on the land speed record when a chain drive broke. At the other extreme, they also produced the Trojan Utility Car in the Kingston upon Thames factory from 1922 to 1928.

Three generations of Spurriers controlled Leyland Motors from its foundation until the retirement of Sir Henry Spurrier in 1964. Sir Henry inherited control of Leyland Motors from his father in 1942, and successfully guided its growth during the postwar years. Whilst the Spurrier family were in control the company enjoyed excellent labour relations—reputedly never losing a day’s production through industrial action.

World War II

During the war, Leyland Motors along with most vehicle manufacturers was involved in war production. Leyland built the Cromwell tank at its works from 1943 as well as medium/large trucks such as the Leyland Hippo and Retriever.

After the war, Leyland Motors continued military manufacture with the Centurion tank.

Post war

In 1946, AEC and Leyland Motors worked to form the British United Traction Ltd.

In 1955, through an equity agreement, manufacture of commercial vehicles under licence from Leyland Motors commenced in Madras, India at the new Ashok factory. The products were branded as Ashok Leyland.

On the other hand, Leyland Motors acquired other companies in the post war years:

Holding company: Leyland Motor Corporation Limited

Donald Stokes, previously Sales Director, was appointed managing director of Leyland Motors Limited in September 1962 originally a Leyland student apprentice he had grown up with the company. He became chairman in 1966. In 1968 Leyland Motor Corporation Limited merged with British Motor Holdings (BMH) to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation (BLMC). BMH brought with it into the new organisation more famous British goods vehicle and bus and coach marques, including Daimler, Guy, BMC, Austin and Morris.

The Leyland diesel engines were used in Finnish Sisu and Vanaja lorries and buses in 1960s.

British Leyland era


Further information: British Leyland

The BLMC group was difficult to manage because of the many companies under its control, often making similar products. This, and other reasons, led to financial difficulties and in December 1974 British Leyland had to receive a guarantee from the British government.

In 1975, after the publication of the Ryder Report, BLMC nationalised as British Leyland (BL) and split into 4 divisions with the bus and truck production becoming the Leyland Truck & Bus division within the Land Rover Leyland Group. This division was split into Leyland Bus and Leyland Trucks in 1981. In 1986, BL changed its name to Rover Group. The equity stake in Ashok Leyland was controlled by Land Rover Leyland International Holdings, and sold in 1987.



The bus operations were divested as a management buy-out to form Leyland Bus, and was subsequently bought by Volvo Buses in 1988, which discontinued most of its product range but adopted the Leyland Olympian, re-engineering it as the first named Volvo Bus model, the Volvo Olympian aside from minor frame changes the major alterations were the fitment of Volvo axles, braking system and controls. Both were the best selling double-deck bus chassis of their time.


  • 1987 The Leyland Trucks division of Rover Group (formerly BL) merged with DAF Trucks of The Netherlands, and was floated on the Dutch stock exchange as DAF NV. The new company traded as Leyland DAF in the UK, and as DAF elsewhere.
  • 1993 DAF NV went into bankruptcy. The UK truck division was bought through a management buy-out and became Leyland Trucks. The van division was also bought through a management buy-out and became LDV Limited. The Spare Parts Operation (Multipart) was also subject to a management buy-out before eventually becoming part of the LEX organisation.
  • 1998 Leyland Trucks was acquired by the US truck manufacturer PACCAR. Leyland Trucks now operates as a division of PACCAR from the Leyland Assembly Plant in North West England manufacturing around 14,000 trucks per year of which about a third are sold in the EU, though not with the name Leyland.

The Leyland name and logo continues as a recognised and respected marque across India, the wider subcontinent and parts of Africa in the form of Ashok Leyland. Part of the giant Hinduja Group, Ashok Leyland manufactures buses, trucks, defence vehicles and engines. The company is a leader in the heavy transportation sector within India and has an aggressive expansionary policy. Ironically, since 1987, when the London-based Hinduja Group bought the Indian-based Ashok Leyland company, it is once again a British-owned brand. Today, Ashok-Leyland is pursuing a joint venture with Nissan, and through its acquisition of the Czech truck maker, Avia, is entering the European truck market directly. With its purchase of a 26% stake in UK-based bus manufacturer Optare in 2010, Ashok Leyland has taken a step closer to reconnecting with its British heritage, as Optare is a direct descendant of Leyland’s UK bus-making division. On 21 December 2010, Ashok Leyland bought an additional 49% stake in Optare, bringing its total to 75%.

Historically, Leyland Motors was a major manufacturer of buses used in the United Kingdom and worldwide. It achieved a number of firsts or milestones that set trends for the bus industry. It was one of the first manufacturers to devise chassis designs for buses that were different from trucks, with a lower chassis level to help passengers to board. Its chief designer, John George Rackham, who had experience at the Yellow Coach Company in Chicago before returning to England, created the Titan and Tiger ranges in 1927 that revolutionised bus design. After 1945, it created another milestone with the trend-setting Atlantean rear-engined double-decker bus design produced between 1956 and 1986.


  • Q-type 4 ton
  • SQ2 7 ton
  • SWQ2 10-ton six-wheeler
  • Bull
  • layland madion


  • Beaver
  • Bison
  • Buffalo
  • Bull
  • Hippo
  • Octopus 22-ton eight-wheeler
  • Steer
  • Lynx
  • Cub
  • Badger



  • Leyland 90
  • Beaver
  • Comet
  • Steer (1966, Ergomatic)[8]
  • Gas Turbine
  • FG
  • Lynx


  • Terrier (G-series)
  • Mastiff (G-series)
  • Boxer (G-series)
  • Clydesdale (G-series)
  • Reiver (G-series)
  • Marathon (Ergomatic)
  • Bison (Ergomatic)

The G-series cab was built in Bathgate and was available with several different names, such as Terrier, Clydesdale, and Reiver. After this cab was replaced the tooling was shipped to Turkey, where BMC’s Turkish subsidiary built it as the “BMC Yavuz” and then as the “Fatih” (with Cummins engines) from 1986 until 1996.

The Marathon was Leyland’s answer to the booming “max cap” truck fad at the start of the 1970s. Imports such as the Volvo F88 and Scania 110/140 were selling very well in the UK thanks to the previously unheard of levels of driver comfort, reliability, quality and performance.

Leyland had insufficient money for development of a complete new vehicle at the time, so designers were instructed to utilise as many existing in-house components as possible. It was perceived at the time that the resulting model would be a stopgap until the new T45 range was ready for production toward the latter half of the 1970s.

The cab was a re-worked version of the “Ergomatic” tilt cab of 1965, heavily modified with different lower panels, raised height etc., and was available in day and sleeper cab form. Engines were decided from the outset to be in the higher power category to be competitive with rival vehicles. The only existing engine within the Leyland empire suitable for such an application (following the demise of the ill-fated fixed-head 500 series and AEC’s underdeveloped and unreliable V8) was the AEC AV760 straight-six, which was turbocharged and designated as the TL12. Other engine options included a 200 bhp Leyland L11, as well as Cummins 10- and 14-litre engines at 250 and 330 bhp, respectively.

Production began in 1973, and various shortcomings were noted, including below-par heating and ventilation, and pronounced cab roll. However, road testers of the time were very impressed by the truck’s power and performance. In 1977, the redesigned “Marathon 2” was launched, an updated and revised vehicle that attempted to address some of the previous criticisms of the earlier vehicle. Relatively few Marathons of all types were sold before production ended in 1979 with the introduction of the T45 “roadtrain” range of vehicles.



This was Leyland’s answer to the Ford cargo in the non-HGV 7.5-ton truck sector. Launched in 1984, it utilised a Leyland straight-six engine until 1986, when a 5.9L Cummins was introduced. It was notable at the time for its low-level passenger side windscreen, featured as a safety aid to enable the driver to see the kerb, although this was deleted on later models. The basic cab had a long service life, becoming later on the Leyland DAF 45.


The Leyland Roadtrain was a range of heavy goods vehicle tractor units manufactured by Leyland Trucks between 1980 and 1990. The nomenclature “T45” refers to the truck range design as a whole and encompasses models such as the lightweight 7.5-ton roadrunner, Freighter (4 wheel rigid truck) constructor (multi axle rigid tipper or mixer chassis-its chassis owing much to the outgoing Scammell 8-wheeler Handyman) and Cruiser (basic spec low weight tractor unit). The Roadtrain itself was a max weight model with distance work in mind.

The cab design was a joint effort between Leyland, BRS and Ogle Design and was seen as the height of modernity when compared with its predecessors, the idea being to have one basic design to replace the various outgoing models (for example, the Bathgate built G cab on the Terrier, the Ergomatic cabbed Lynx, Beaver etc.). This did indeed make good economic sense; however, there has been speculation that Leyland did in fact alienate a number of customers who had traditionally purchased other marques from within the Leyland empire—Albion, AEC, Scammell, etc.—who were now left with no alternative but to have a Leyland branded vehicle or purchase from elsewhere.

Throughout its production run, engine choices included the AEC-based TL12, a straight carry over from the preceding “stopgap” model Marathon range, The Rolls-Royce Eagle 265/300 and the Cummins 290 L10 and 14-litre 350 coupled to a Spicer or Eaton transmission, although all versions produced a distinctive whine from the propshaft knuckle joint when approaching 60 mph (97 km/h). The TL12 engine was dropped early on in the production run, with most large fleet buyers choosing the Rolls-Royce engine.

The Roadtrain was available in day- and sleeper-cabbed form, in high and low datum versions—this refers to the cab height—high datum versions were intended as long haul vehicles with higher mounted cabs and more internal space. 6×2 versions were built in high cab form only on a chassis that was basically that of the ageing Scammell trunker.

In 1986, the high roofed Roadtrain interstate was introduced, a top of the range long distance truck with standing room inside.

The Roadtrain was a common sight throughout most of the 1980s, with a great many of the major fleet users in the UK such as Tesco, Blue Circle (unusually with high datum day cabs) and BRS running them. The Firm of Swain’s based at Rochester in Kent had a number of roadtrains in its fleet which enjoyed a comparatively long service life (until the late 1990s) before being replaced by the newer DAF 85.

Production ended in 1990 with the sale of Leyland Trucks to Dutch firm DAF, although as a postscript DAF relaunched the model in low-datum form (it was already manufacturing the large DAF 95) as the DAF 80, using the Roadtrain cab with the DAF 330 ATi engine (quite ironic, given that this engine had its roots in the Leyland O.680). This model was produced for a relatively short time until 1993 with the launch of the brand new cabbed DAF 85.

Due partly to the cab’s propensity to rust and also to the admittedly short life of commercial vehicles, any Roadtrain in commercial operation is now a very rare sight indeed. However, a small number remain in use throughout the country as towing-and-recovery vehicles.

The army made use of an 8×6 version of the Roadtrain as a hook loader until recently. This is known to the British Army as Demountable Rack Offload and Pickup System (DROPS), which has seen action Iraq and Afghanistan and is still in service, but is due to be replaced by the MAN version.


The Leyland Comet was introduced in 1986, specifically designed for export markets mainly in the developing world. As such, it was a no-frills vehicle of a simple and sturdy design, with five- or six-speed transmissions rather than the multi-speed units used on European models. The cabin was a simplified all-steel version of that used by the Roadrunner, designed to enable local assembly. The three-axle version is called the Super Comet.

Leyland Trucks

Leyland Trucks Limited

Type Subsidiary of Paccar since 1998
Industry Manufacturing
Founded 1993
Headquarters Leyland, Lancashire, England
Key people Ron Augustyn-Managing Director
Peter Jukes-Operations Director
Denis Culloty-Chief Engineer
Products Trucks
Revenue Approx £850 million
Owner(s) Paccar UK
Employees 950
Parent Paccar
Website leylandtrucksltd.co.uk

Leyland Trucks is the UK’s leading medium & heavy duty truck manufacturer and is based in the town of Leyland, Lancashire. It emerged from the bankruptcy of DAF NV as the result of a management buy-out in 1993, and was acquired by PACCAR in 1998, of which it is now a subsidiary. Since Leyland Trucks was acquired by PACCAR it has become the group’s established centre for the design, development and manufacture of light and medium duty trucks. Leyland Trucks operates out of one of Europe’s most advanced truck manufacturing facilities – the Leyland Assembly Plant, and currently employs 1000 people. In 2008 Leyland produced more than 24,500 trucks of which 50% were exported.


Its history lies in origins as Leyland Motors which subsequently became part of the nationalised British Leyland conglomerate. Upon the breakup of BL’s successor Rover Group, the truck making division merged with DAF’s truck business as DAF NV. When the new company became insolvent a few years later, Leyland Trucks emerged as an independent company.



  • 1896 The Lancashire Steam Motor Company is formed by James Sumner at the Herbert Street workshops with 20 employees. Henry Spurrier financed the development of a 30cwt steam van which proved to be successful
  • 1907 T Coulthard and Co, an engineering firm in Preston, was taken over by LSMC and the combined company named Leyland Motors Limited
  • 1963 Leyland Motor Corporation is formed after Leyland Motors absorbs Standard-Triumph International and Associated Commercial Vehicles Ltd during the preceding years
  • 1968 Leyland Motor Corporation and British Motor Holdings merged to form the British Leyland Motor Corporation, which was now the fifth largest vehicle producer in the world
  • 1975 BLMC was nationalised by the government in response to the severe financial problems being experienced by the group. The corporation becomes British Leyland with Leyland commercials becoming part of the autonomous Truck and Bus Division
  • 1978 Leyland Vehicles Limited becomes the new name for the division
  • 1979 Production starts during September at the all new Leyland Assembly Plant. The first build being a Leyland Leopard bus chassis
  • 1981 LVL split into three companies;- Leyland Trucks, Leyland Bus and Leyland Parts
  • 1987 DAF Trucks take a 60% controlling share in Leyland Trucks and Freight-Rover and becomes Leyland DAF
  • 1993 The Leyland factory is subject to a management buy-out and becomes Leyland Trucks Limited
  • 1998 Leyland Trucks is acquired by PACCAR of the United States and incorporated as the Leyland Trucks subsidiary of that company
  • 2000 Production of all Foden product is transferred to the Leyland Assembly Plant
  • 2002 The Leyland designed and built LF wins the prestigious award ‘International Truck of the Year’
  • 2005 Leyland Trucks starts painting truck chassis robotically on the moving conveyor, a first in the industry
  • 2006 Leyland Trucks stops production of Foden trucks following the decision to retire the Foden brand
  • 2007 In another industry leading move, Leyland Trucks starts production of the complete bodied truck. Bodies are built on the production line, under the same quality controls, and fitted directly to its chassis prior to delivery to the customer
  • 2008 On 17 April Leyland Trucks produced its 300,000th truck. Mark Armstrong Transport Ltd took delivery of the DAF XF 105 direct from the assembly line
  • 2008 Leyland Trucks built a record 24,700 trucks at the assembly facility (beating the previous 2007 record of 17,500), supporting DAFs Leading UK Market Share of 27.3%
  • 2009 In April Leyland Trucks was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Award for Enterprise in International Trade.
  • 2010 Leyland Trucks was awarded the PACCAR Chairman’s Award for 2009

British Leyland


British Leyland

Industry Automotive
Fate Renamed
Predecessor(s) British Motor Holdings (BMH)
Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC)
Successor(s) Rover Group
Leyland DAFLDV Van Group
Founded 1968
Defunct 1986
Headquarters Longbridge (Austin Rover), BirminghamCowley, Oxford

1986 – 2005: Washwood Heath, Birmingham LDV Vans

Key people Lord Stokes
Michael Edwardes
Graham Day
Products Automobiles
Employees 250,000

British Leyland was an automotive engineering, and manufacturing conglomerate formed in the United Kingdom in 1968 as British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd (BLMC), following the merger of Leyland Motors and British Motor Holdings. It was partly nationalised in 1975, when the UK government created a holding company called British Leyland, later BL, in 1978.[1][2] It incorporated much of the British-owned motor vehicle industry, and held 40 percent of the UK car market,[3] with roots going back to 1895.

Despite containing profitable marques such as Jaguar, Rover and Land Rover, as well as the best-selling Mini, British Leyland had a troubled history.[4] In 1986 it was renamed as the Rover Group, later to become MG Rover Group, which went into administration in 2005, bringing mass car production by British-owned manufacturers to an end. MG and the Austin, Morris and Wolseley marques became part of China’s SAIC, with whom MG Rover attempted to merge prior to administration.

Today, MINI, Jaguar Land Rover and Leyland Trucks (now owned by BMW Group, TATA and Paccar, respectively) are the three most prominent former parts of British Leyland which are still active in the automotive industry, with SIAC-owned MG Motor continuing a small presence at the Longbridge site. Certain other related ex-BL businesses (such as Unipart) continue to operate independently.


BLMC was created in 1968 by the merger of British Motor Holdings (BMH) and Leyland Motor Corporation (LMC), encouraged by Tony Benn as chairman of the Industrial Reorganisation Committee created by the Wilson Government (1964–1970).[3] At the time, LMC was a successful manufacturer, while BMH (which was the product of an earlier merger between the British Motor Corporation and Jaguar) was perilously close to collapse. The Government was hopeful LMC’s expertise would revive the ailing BMH, and effectively create a “British General Motors“. The merger combined most of the remaining independent British car manufacturing companies and included car, bus and truck manufacturers and more diverse enterprises including construction equipment, refrigerators, metal casting companies, road surface manufacturers; in all, nearly 100 different companies. The new corporation was arranged into seven divisions under its new chairman, Sir Donald Stokes (formerly the chairman of LMC).

While BMH was the UK’s largest car manufacturer (producing over twice as many cars as LMC), it offered a range of dated vehicles, including the Morris Minor which was introduced in 1948 and the Austin Cambridge and Morris Oxford, which dated back to 1959. After the merger, Lord Stokes was horrified to find that BMH had no plans to replace these elderly designs. Also, BMH’s design efforts immediately prior to the merger had focused on unfortunate niche market models such as the Austin Maxi (which was underdeveloped and with an appearance hampered by using the doors from the larger Austin 1800) and the Austin 3 litre, a car with no discernible place in the market.

BMH had produced several successful cars, such as the Mini and the Austin/Morris 1100/1300 range (which at the time was the UK’s biggest selling car). While these cars had been advanced at the time of their introduction, the Mini was not highly profitable and the 1100/1300 was facing more modern competition.

Allegro british-leyland-mini-clubman-05

The lack of attention to development of new mass-market models meant that BMH had nothing in the way of new models in the pipeline to compete effectively with popular rivals such as Ford’s Escort and Cortina.

Immediately, Lord Stokes instigated plans to design and introduce new models quickly. The first result of this crash program was the Morris Marina in early 1971. It used parts from various BL models with new bodywork to produce BL’s mass-market competitor. It was one of the strongest-selling cars in Britain during the 1970s, although by the end of production in 1980 it was widely regarded as a dismal product that had damaged the company’s reputation. The Austin Allegro (replacement for the 1100/1300 ranges), launched in 1973, earned a similarly unwanted reputation over its 10-year production life.

The company became an infamous monument to the industrial turmoil that plagued Britain in the 1970s. Industrial action instigated by militant shop stewards frequently brought BL’s manufacturing capability to its knees. Despite the duplication of production facilities as a result of the merger, there were multiple single points of failure in the company’s production network which meant that a strike in a single plant could stop many of the others. Dealers, starved of stock found their customers defecting to contemporary products from Ford, Vauxhall, and the burgeoning Japanese imports.

At its peak, BLMC owned almost 40 manufacturing plants across the country. Even before the merger BMH had included theoretically competing marques that were in fact selling substantially similar “badge engineered” cars. To this was added the competition from yet more, previously LMC marques. Rover competed with Jaguar at the expensive end of the market, and Triumph with its family cars and sports cars against Austin, Morris and MG. Individual model lines that were similarly sized were therefore competing against each other, yet were never discontinued nor were model ranges rationalised quickly enough – for instance BMH’s MGB remained in production alongside LMC’s Triumph TR6, whilst in the medium family segment, the Princess was in direct competition with upscale versions of the Morris Marina and cheaper versions of the Austin Maxi, meaning that economies of scale resulting from large production runs could never be realised. In addition, in consequent attempts to establish British Leyland as a brand in consumers’ minds in and outside the UK, print ads and spots were produced, causing confusion rather than attraction for buyers. This, combined with serious industrial relations problems (with trade unions), the 1973 oil crisis, the three-day week, high inflation, and ineffectual management meant that BL became an unmanageable and financially crippled behemoth which went bankrupt in 1975.

1970s restructuring

Sir Don Ryder was asked to undertake an enquiry into the position of the company, and his report, The Ryder Report, was presented to the government in April 1975. Following the report’s recommendations, the organisation was drastically restructured and the Labour Government (1974–1979) took control by creating a new holding company British Leyland Limited (BL) of which the government was the major shareholder. Between 1975 and 1980 these shares were vested in the National Enterprise Board which had responsibility for managing this investment. The company was now organised into the following four divisions:

  • Leyland Cars (later BL Cars) – the largest car manufacturer in the UK, employing some 128,000 people at 36 locations, and with a production capacity of one million vehicles per year.
  • Leyland Truck and Bus – the largest commercial and passenger vehicle manufacturer in the UK, employing 31,000 people at 12 locations, producing 38,000 trucks, 8,000 buses (including a joint venture with the National Bus Company) and 19,000 tractors per year. The tractors were based on the Nuffield designs, but built in a plant in Bathgate, Scotland.
  • Leyland Special Products – the miscellaneous collection of other acquired businesses, itself structured into five sub-divisions:
  • Leyland International – responsible for the export of cars, trucks and buses, and responsible for manufacturing plants in Africa, India and Australia, employing 18,000 people

There was positive news for BL at the end of 1976 when its new Rover SD1 executive car was voted European Car of the Year, having gained plaudits for its innovative design. The SD1 was actually the first step that British Leyland took towards rationalising its passenger car ranges, as it was a single car replacing two cars competing in the same sector: the Rover P6 and Triumph 2000. More positive news for the company came at the end of 1976 with the approval by Industry Minister Eric Varley of a £140 million investment of public money in refitting the Longbridge plant for production of the company’s “ADO88” (Mini replacement) model, due for launch in 1979. However, poor results from customer clinics of the ADO88, coupled with the UK success of the Ford Fiesta, launched in 1976, forced a snap redesign of ADO88 which evolved into the “LC8” project – eventually launched as the Austin Mini Metro in 1980.

In 1977 Sir Michael Edwardes was appointed chief executive by the NEB and Leyland Cars was split up into Austin Morris (the volume car business) and Jaguar Rover Triumph (JRT) (the specialist or upmarket division). Austin Morris included MG. Land Rover and Range Rover were later separated from JRT to form the Land Rover Group. JRT later split up into Rover-Triumph and Jaguar Car Holdings (which included Daimler).

In 1978 the company formed a new group for its commercial vehicle interests, BL Commercial Vehicles (BLCV) under managing director David Abell. The following companies moved under this new umbrella:

  • Leyland Vehicles Limited (trucks, tractors and buses)
  • Alvis Limited (military vehicles)
  • Coventry Climax (fork lift trucks and specialist engines)
  • Self-Changing Gears Limited (heavy-duty transmissions)

BLCV and the Land Rover Group later merged to become Land Rover Leyland.

BL Ltd

In 1979 British Leyland Ltd was renamed to simply BL Ltd (later BL plc) and its subsidiary which acted as a holding company for all the other companies within the group The British Leyland Motor Corporation Ltd to BLMC Ltd.

BL’s fortunes took another much-awaited rise in October 1980 with the launch of the Austin Metro (initially named the Mini Metro), a modern three-door hatchback which gave buyers a more modern and practical alternative to the iconic but ageing Mini. This went on to be one of the most popular cars in Britain of the 1980s. Towards the final stages of the Metro’s development, BL entered into an alliance with Honda to provide a new mid-range model which would replace the ageing Triumph Dolomite, but would more crucially act as a stop-gap until the Austin Maestro and Montego were ready for launch. This car would emerge as the Triumph Acclaim in 1981, and would be the first of a long line of collaborative models jointly developed between BL and Honda. By 1982 the BL Cars Ltd division renamed itself Austin Rover Group, shortly before the launch of the Maestro and Michael Edwardes was replaced by Harold Musgrove as chairman and chief executive. Jaguar and Daimler remained in a separate company called Jaguar Car Holdings, but were later sold off and privatised in 1984.

A rationalisation of the model ranges also took place around this time. In 1980, British Leyland was still producing four cars in the large family car sector—the Princess 2, Austin Maxi, Morris Marina and Triumph Dolomite. The Marina became the Ital in August 1980 following a superficial facelift, and a year later the Princess 2 received a major upgrade to become the Austin Ambassador, meaning that the 1982 range had just two competitors in this sector. In April 1984, these cars were discontinued to make way for a single all-new model, the Austin Montego. The Triumph Acclaim was replaced in that same year by another Honda-based product – the Rover 200-series.

Jaguar sale

In 1984 Jaguar Cars became independent once more, through a public sale of its shares. Ford subsequently acquired Jaguar. In 1986 BL changed its name to Rover Group and in 1987 the Trucks Division – Leyland Vehicles merged with the Dutch DAF company to form DAF NV, trading as Leyland DAF in the UK and as DAF in the Netherlands. In 1987 the bus business was spun off into a new company called Leyland Bus. This was the result of a management buyout who decided to sell the company to the Bus & Truck division of Volvo in 1988.


In 1986 Graham Day took the helm as chairman and CEO and the third joint Rover-Honda vehicle – the Rover 800-series – was launched which replaced the 10-year old Rover SD1. That same year, the British government controversially tried to reprivatise and sell-off Land Rover, however this plan was later abandoned. 1987 saw the Austin name dropped on the Metro, Maestro and Montego, signalling the end for the historic Austin marque, in a push to focus on the more prestigious (and potentially more profitable) Rover badge. In 1988 the business was sold by the British Government to British Aerospace (BAe), and shortly after shortened its name to just Rover Group. They subsequently sold the business to BMW, which, after initially seeking to retain the whole business, decided to only retain the Cowley operations for MINI production and close the Longbridge factory. Longbridge, along with the Rover and MG marques, was taken on by MG Rover which went into administration in April 2005.

Many of the brands were divested over time and continue to exist on the books of several companies to this day.

Ashok Leyland

The Leyland name and logo continues as a recognised and respected marque across India, the wider subcontinent and parts of Africa in the form of Ashok Leyland. Part of the giant Hinduja Group, Ashok Leyland manufactures buses, trucks, defence vehicles and engines. The company is a leader in the heavy transportation sector within India and has an aggressive expansionary policy. Ironically, since 1987, when the London-based Hinduja Group bought the Indian-based Ashok Leyland company, it is once again a British-owned brand. Today, Ashok-Leyland is pursuing a joint venture with Nissan and through its acquisition of the Czech truck maker, Avia, is entering the European truck market directly. With its purchase, in 2010, of a 25 per cent stake in UK-based bus manufacturer Optare, Ashok Leyland has taken a step closer to reconnecting with its British heritage, as Optare is a direct descendant of Leyland’s UK bus-making division.

British Leyland also provided the technical know-how and the rights to their Leyland 28 BHP tractor for Auto Tractors Limited, a tractor plant in Pratapgarh, Uttar Pradesh. Established in 1981 with state support, ATL only managed to build 2,380 tractors by the time the project was ended in 1990 – less than the planned production for the first two years. The project ended up being taken over by Sipani, who kept producing tractor engines and also a small number of tractors with some modest success.

Notes for the timeline table

  • The car brands of BSA were divested, BSA was not merged into Jaguar.
  • Mini was not originally a marque in its own right. See Mini and MINI (BMW) for more detail.
  • The BMC trademark is registered (1564704, E1118348) to MG Rover Group Ltd in the UK. BMC is also the name of a commercial vehicle manufacturer in Turkey, formerly the Turkish subsidiary of the British Motor Corporation. It is believed that Nanjing Automotive may have purchased this from MG Rover, however the brand has not been reassigned as of 17 July 2006.
  • The Wolseley trademark is registered (UK 1490228) to MG Rover Group Ltd for automobiles only. It is believed that Nanjing Automotive may have purchased this from MG Rover, however the brand has not been reassigned as of July 2006 to a different company. The UK building materials supplier Wolseley plc owns the rights to the Wolseley name for all other purposes. Wolseley plc is a descendant of the original Wolseley company.
  • The Vanden Plas trademark is owned by Ford (through Jaguar) for use within the USA and Canada, and as (UK 1133528, E2654481) to MG Rover Group Ltd for use in the rest of the world. It is believed that Nanjing Automotive may have purchased this from MG Rover, however the trademark has not been recorded as reassigned as of 17 July 2006. This is why Jaguar XJ Vanden Plas models are branded as Daimlers in Britain. The last Rover to use the Vanden Plas name was the Rover 75 Vanden Plas, a long wheelbase limousine model.
  • The Rover trademark was owned by BMW and was only licenced to MG Rover Group Ltd. BMW sold the brand to Ford in September 2006.
  • Alvis was purchased from British Leyland by United Scientific Holdings plc in 1981, in 2002 Alvis merged with part of Vickers Defence Systems to form Alvis Vickers which was purchased by BAE Systems in 2004. BAE Systems did not acquire Alvis through their ownership of the Rover Group in the early 1990s. Production of Alvis branded cars ceased in 1967. The trademark is owned by Alvis Vehicles Ltd.
  • The use of the Triumph name as a trademark for vehicles is shared between BMW and Triumph Motorcycles Ltd. The former for automobiles and the latter for motorcycles. The motorcycle and car business separated in the 1930s.

Merged companies

The car firms (and car brands) which eventually merged to form the company are as follows.

The dates given are those of the first car of each name, but these are often debatable as each car may be several years in development.

  • 1895 Wolseley Motors
  • 1896 Lanchester Motor Company
  • 1896 Leyland Motors Ltd (commercial vehicles)
  • 1896 Daimler
  • 1898 Riley
  • 1899 Albion
  • 1903 Standard Motor Company
  • 1904 Rover
  • 1905 Austin
  • 1912 Morris
  • 1913 Vanden Plas
  • 1919 Alvis
  • 1923 MG created by Morris
  • 1923 Triumph Motor Company
  • 1924 BSA used as a car brand
  • 1935 Jaguar
  • 1947 Land Rover created by Rover
  • 1952 Austin-Healey created by Austin division of BMC (see below)
  • 1959 Mini : the car initially launched as the Austin Seven and Morris Mini-Minor became popularly known just as the ‘Mini’ and BMC recognised this by initially re-badging the Austin as the Austin Mini, and subsequently deleting both marque names from the car and effectively making Mini a marque name in its own right.
  • robbo
  • The infamous Derek Robbins (RED ROBBO) Leader of the unions.
  • strike
  • Strike Meeting
  • turn against robbo
  • The workers turn against Red Robbo
  • box_98_20110723122046_00218A.jpg
  • Wives or Women against strikes on the picket line at Longbridge.
  • Pictures courtesy of Local newspaper.

Duple:Simms and the Daimler engine (Part 1)

Simms and the Daimler engine the History
Engineer Frederick Richard Simms was supervising construction of an aerial cableway of Simms own design for the Bremen Exhibition in 1889 when he saw tiny railcars powered by Gottlieb Daimler’s motors. Simms, who had been born to English parents in Hamburg and raised by them there, became friends with Daimler, an ardent Anglophile who had spent from autumn 1861 to summer 1863 in England, working at Beyer-Peacock in Gorton, Manchester. Simms first introduced Daimler’s motors to England in 1890 to power launches. In an agreement dated 18 February 1891, he obtained British and Empire rights for the Daimler patents. That month, DMG lent Simms a motorboat with a 2 hp engine and an extra engine. In June 1891 Simms had set up a London office at 49 Leadenhall Street and founded Simms & Co consulting engineers. That month, the motorboat, named Cannstatt, began running on the Thames from Putney. Simms later established works premises at Eel Pie Island on the Thames where the Thames Electric and Steam Launch Company, owned by Andrew Pears of Pears Soap fame, had been making electrically-powered motor launches. The launch business rapidly gained momentum. Simms’ Daimler-related work was later moved into his new company named The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited, which formed 26 May 1893.
Simms plans to make cars
Following the success of Daimler-powered Peugeots and Panhards at the 1894 Paris–Rouen competition, Simms decided to open a motor car factory, possibly the UK’s first motor company. On 7 June 1895 Simms told his board he wished to form a company to be known as The Daimler Motor Company Limited. The company would acquire both the right to use the name Daimler and the British rights to the Daimler patents. It would manufacture Daimler motors and cars in England. He detailed his plans to form The Daimler Motor Company Limited and to build a brand-new factory, incorporating light rail, for 400 workmen making Daimler Motor Carriages. That month, he arranged an agency for the Daimler-powered Panhard & Levassor cars in Britain. Simms asked his friend Daimler to be consulting engineer to the new enterprise. Simms later continued with his plans for the new business and new factory, selecting a six-acre site at Cheltenham. At the June board meeting, Simms proudly produced the first car licence. It was for a 3½ hp Panhard & Levassor (later referred to as a ‘Daimler Motor Carriage’). Bought in France by Evelyn Ellis, who had three Daimler motor launches moored by his home at Datchet, it was landed at Southampton on 3 July and driven by Ellis to Micheldever near Winchester where Ellis met Simms and they drove together to Datchet. Ellis later drove it on to Malvern. This was the first long journey by motorcar in Britain
In order that the Daimler licences could be transferred from Simms to the new company, all the former partners would have to agree to the transfer. By this time, Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach had withdrawn from Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft’s business to concentrate on cars and engines for them. Simms offered to pay DMG £17,500 for the transfer and for a licence for Daimler and Maybach’s Phénix engine, which DMG did not own. Simms therefore insisted that the transfer be on the condition that Daimler and Maybach rejoined DMG. This was agreed in November 1895 and the Daimler-Maybach car business re-merged with DMG’s. Daimler was appointed DMG’s General Inspector and Maybach chief Technical Director. At the same time Simms became a director of DMG but did not become a director of the London company. Those close to Daimler considered it ‘no mean feat’ that Simms had managed to obtain Daimler’s signature to the proposed re-amalgamation.
Simms sells out to Lawson
Investor Harry John Lawson had set out to use The British Motor Syndicate Limited to monopolise motor car production in Britain by taking over every patent he could. As part of this goal, Lawson approached Simms on 15 October 1895, seeking the right to arrange the public flotation of the proposed new company and to acquire a large shareholding for his British Motor Syndicate. Welcomed by Simms, the negotiations proceeded on the basis that this new company should acquire The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited as a going concern, including the name and patent rights.

Acquisition On 14 January 1896 Lawson incorporated The Daimler Motor Company Limited. A prospectus was issued on 15 February. The subscription lists opened on 17 February and closed, oversubscribed, the next day. The Daimler Motor Company Limited bought The Daimler Motor Syndicate Limited as a going concern. Simms was appointed consulting engineer to the new business but was not to be on the board of directors, possibly because he had become a director of the Cannstatt firm. One of Lawson’s associates had for sale an empty four-storey cotton mill in Coventry which was promptly purchased for use as Britain’s first automobile factory. Another deal was concluded with Panhard & Levassor in which the Cannstatt firm would receive a commission of 10% on British sales.
1896 passed with car sales limited to imported Panhard and Peugeot cars. Aside from engines Cannstatt seemed curiously unable to supply ordered components or specially commissioned working drawings. Four experimental cars were built in Coventry and some (redesigned in detail) Daimler engines.
The first car left the works in January 1897, fitted with a Panhard engine, followed in March by Daimler-engined cars. The first Coventry Daimler-engined product made its maiden run on 2 March 1897. By mid-year they were producing three of their own cars a week and producing Léon Bollée cars under licence. Lawson claimed to have made 20 cars by July 1897 making the Daimler Britain’s first motor car to go into serial production, an honour that is also credited to Humber Motors who had also displayed, but in their case their production models, at the Stanley Cycle Show in London in 1896. The Daimlers had a twin-cylinder, 1526 cc engine, mounted at the front of the car, four-speed gearbox and chain drive to the rear wheels.
Royal patronage
Known as Britain’s oldest car manufacturers, Daimler became the official transportation of royalty in 1898, after the Prince of Wales, later Edward VII, was given a ride on a Daimler by John Douglas-Scott-Montagu later known as Lord Montagu of Beaulieu. Scott-Montagu, as a member of parliament, also drove a Daimler into the yard of the British Parliament, the first motorised vehicle to be driven there.
In early 1900, Daimler had sold the Prince of Wales a mail phaeton. In 1902, upon buying his second Daimler, King Edward VII awarded Daimler a royal warrant as suppliers of motor cars. It was in mid-1900 that Frederick Simms, as a director of DMG, proposed a union between the Daimler Motor Company in Coventry and DMG in Cannstatt, but nothing came of the proposal.
In 1903, Undecimus Stratton met E. G. Jenkinson, the chairman of Daimler, when Jenkinson’s Daimler was stranded by the roadside. Upon seeing the stranded motorist, Stratton stopped his Daimler and offered assistance. Jenkinson was impressed by Stratton and by his motoring knowledge. At the time, Jenkinson was looking to replace the head of Daimler’s London depot, a particularly sensitive position because of the royal cars. Taking the position, Stratton soon found himself having to select better royal chauffeurs and mechanics. He quickly became an occasional motoring companion to the King. In 1908, through Stratton’s Royal connections, Daimler was awarded a “Royal Appointment as suppliers of motor cars to the Court of Spain” by King Alfonso XIII and a Royal Warrant as “Motor Car Manufacturer to the Court of Prussia” by Kaiser Wilhelm II. Stratton also sold Daimlers to the Sultan of Johor. In 1911 he spent some weekends at Sandringham tutoring the new Prince of Wales on the workings and driving of an automobile.
In 1921 Stratton went into partnership with Daimler’s commercial manager Ernest Intone. Stratton and Intone took charge of the Daimler showrooms at 27 Pall Mall, naming the business Stratton-Intone. Stratton died in July 1929 after a brief illness. His successors and Intone bought out Daimler’s interest in 1930 and renamed the business Stratstone Limited. The following summer the future King Edward VIII rented Stratton’s house at Sunningdale from his widow.
Every British monarch from Edward VII to Elizabeth II has been driven in Daimler limousines. In 1950, after a persistent transmission failure on the King’s car, Rolls-Royce was commissioned to provide official state cars and as Daimlers retired they were not replaced by Daimlers. The current official state car is either one of a pair which were specially made for the purpose by Bentley, unofficial chauffeured transport is by Daimler. Her Majesty’s own car for personal use is a 2008 Daimler Super Eight but she is also seen to drive herself in other smaller cars.
Fluted radiator Since 1904, the fluted top surface to the radiator grille has been Daimler’s distinguishing feature. This motif developed from the heavily finned water-cooling tubes slung externally at the front of early cars and clearly visible in the photograph of the 1903 car to the right. Later, a more conventional, vertical radiator had a heavily finned header tank. Eventually these fins were echoed on a protective grille shell and, even later, on the rear licence plate holder.
Sleeve-valve engines Attracted by the possibilities of the “Silent Knight” engine Daimler’s chairman contacted Charles Yale Knight in Chicago and Knight settled in England near Coventry in 1907. Daimler contracted Dr Frederick Lanchester as their consultant for the purpose and a major re-design and refinement of Knight’s design took place in great secrecy. Knight’s design was made a practical proposition. When unveiled in September 1908 the new engine caused a sensation. “Suffice it to say that mushroom valves, springs and cams, and many small parts, are swept away bodily, that we have an almost perfectly spherical explosion chamber, and a cast-iron sleeve or tube as that portion of the combustion chamber in which the piston travels.”
The Royal Automobile Club held a special meeting to discuss the new engine, still silent but no longer “Wholly Knight”. The Autocar reported on “its extraordinary combination of silence, flexibility and power.” In recognition of the design’s success the RAC awarded Daimler their coveted Dewar Trophy. Daimler bought rights from Knight “for England and the colonies” and shared ownership of the European rights, in which it took 60%, with Minerva of Belgium. Daimler dropped poppet-valve engines altogether. Sales outran the works’ ability to supply.
Daimler’s sleeve valve engines idle silently but when they left royal engagements Daimlers often departed in a just-visible haze of oil smoke. These engines had quite high oil consumption, oil being needed to lubricate the sleeves particularly when cold, but by the standards of their day they required almost no maintenance. Daimler kept their silent sleeve-valve engines until the mid-1930s. The change to poppet valves began with the Fifteen of 1933.
Impact on British life and culture, 1896-1910 In 1899 a Daimler 6 hp was involved in the first motor accident in the UK to be recorded as having involved the death of the driver. A young engineer was killed when the rim of a rear wheel collapsed and the car he was driving collided with a wall on a sloping road in Harrow on the Hill. The engineer’s passenger was thrown from the car and died in hospital three days later.

Owned by BSA (1910-1960)
Acquisition by BSA Under an agreement dated 22 September 1910 the shareholders of The Daimler Motor Company Limited “merged their holdings with those of the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA) group of companies”. They handed in their Daimler shares for new BSA shares This business deal was engineered by Dudley Docker, deputy-chairman of BSA, who was famous for previous successful business mergers.
Daimler, a manufacturer of motor vehicles, had a payroll of 4,116 workmen and 418 staff immediately before the merger. BSA produced rifles, ammunition, military vehicles, bicycles, motorcycles and some BSA-branded cars. The chairman of the combined group was Edward Manville., who had been chairman of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders – founded by Simms – since 1907 However the merger was not a great success. By 1913 Daimler had a workforce of 5,000 workers which made only 1,000 vehicles a year.
Transport of emperors, kings and princes By 1914 Daimlers were in the service of royal families including those of Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Greece; its list of owners among the British nobility “read like a digest of Debrett; the Bombay agent supplied Indian princes; the Japanese agent, Okura, handled sales in Manchuria and Korea.
World War I work
War was declared on 4 August 1914. The military took the normal production cars, lorries, buses and ambulances together with a scout army vehicle and engines used in ambulances, trucks, and double-decker buses. Special products included aero-engines and complete aircraft, tank and tractor engines and munitions. Aero-engines manufactured by Daimler included the French-designed Gnome Monosoupape rotary, the RAF 1 and 1a air-cooled V8s, the RAF 4a V12, the Le Rhone rotary, and the Bentley BR2 rotary.
Daimler trained air force mechanics in its works and its training methods became the standard for all manufacturers instructing RAF mechanics. Having its own body shop, Daimler built complete aircraft. By the end of 1914, they had built 100 units of the Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c. These were followed by the BE12 and RE8. Their own test-ground beside the factory was compulsorily purchased and became the main RAF testing ground for aircraft built in the Coventry district. Although Daimler tooled up for production of the Royal Aircraft Factory F.E.4 bomber the aircraft was cancelled due to poor performance. The last wartime aircraft produced was the Airco DH.10 bomber when they were building 80 aeroplanes a month.
The first special production in late 1914 were the power trains used in the Fosters of Lincoln artillery tractors built to haul 15-inch (380 mm) howitzers. As a result Daimler produced engines for the very first British tanks ever built (“Little Willie” and “Mother”). One major difficulty for the tanks was the fine oil haze above their Daimler engines which the enemy quickly learned meant tanks were operating nearby if out of sight. The early tanks weighed up to 28 tons. They were all Daimler powered. Modifications designed by W. O. Bentley upgraded output from 105 to 125 horsepower during production. Derivatives included a gun-carrier and a supply vehicle and a salvage machine to rescue broken-down tanks and heavy guns. Daimler made more twelve inch (305 mm) shells than any other business in the country, 2000 a week. Each was machined from a 994 lb forging down to a finished weight of 684 lb.

DUPLE and Thomas Harrington (Part 2)

DUPLE and Thomas Harrington (Part 2)
In 1965 it was decided to close the factory. Although not a part of the Rootes Group, the operations were owned by a Rootes family investment company. Production ceased in April 1966 after which Plaxton purchased spares, stock in trade and goodwill. The Cavalier (1959–64) and Grenadier (1962-6) luxury coach bodies for underfloor-engined chassis jointly won the Classic Bus reader poll as the most stylish coach of all time. Many Harrington vehicles are preserved and Harrington devotees have a gathering of their own. There were huge numbers of small to medium sized professional coachbuilders in existence around Britain as Thomas Harrington & Sons Ltd moved into its new Hove factory. The management of Harrington’s decided that two things were necessary to stand them in good stead in this crowded market. The first was building good relationships with blue-chip customers, and the second was to produce designs with a distinctive Harrington ‘look’. Instances of the first were their long-term supply to high–class coach firms in the private and large company sectors. Such private customers included Grey-Green of Stamford Hill, London, Charlie’s Cars of Bournemouth and Silver Star of Porton Down. The large firms included the Tilling Group’s North Western Road Car Company of Stockport and BET-group member Devon General of Exeter, but perhaps the most enduring relationship of all was as supplier to the local BET coaching powerhouse Southdown Motor Services


The Cavalier was initially offered at 30 ft long by 8 ft wide to fit any suitable under floor engine chassis. As was normal with Harrington the previous Wayfarer Mark 4 coach remained available (if requested) for the next couple of years, but it was clear the advantage was with the Cavalier. By the time Lloyds of Nuneaton’s 3857UE was shown at the 1960 Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court 68 Cavaliers had been sold to seven BET fleets, ten independents and local charity St Dunstan’s Home for the Blind. These were mainly on AEC Reliance, but Charlie’s Cars of Bournemouth took six Albion Aberdonian, East Yorkshire took five on Leyland Tiger Cub and Ellen Smith of Rochdale took the sole Leyland Leopard. The Cavalier was a clear success already, with a number of influential customers well out of Harrington’s heartland. Sales were both more geographically widespread and in many cases to customers who had not taken Harrington bodies before. The output from Hendon on equivalent chassis that season was 81.
Between January and November 1961, 114 Cavaliers were sold; there were repeat orders for the Cavalier from eight operators including St Dunstan’s. Of the six BET operators three were new customers for the style, both of the largest taking Leopards for their most prestigious touring duties. Southdown’s first order was for forty bodies and Ribble Motor Services, who had favoured local builder Burlingham for the past decade took 35. The largest repeat order was from Northern General who again took ten touring coaches, this time on Leopard, and independents adding further Cavaliers were Abbott of Blackpool, Ellen Smith of Rochdale, Flight of Birmingham and Harris of Greys. The most important new independent customer was Yelloway (a conquest from the Duple group) taking six Reliance’s.

In terms of chassis on which to build Harrington’s fortune had definitely swung in the direction of Farington, with 86 Leopards and a Tiger Cub being bodied in contrast with only 26 Reliance’s, the Albion Aberdonian had been discontinued the previous year, so it would from now on be a straight fight between Lancashire and Middlesex.
Duple’s 1961 season total for the Brittania on its final facelift was 77, all but five on Reliance. The Donington had got bigger windows and Brittania-like trim but between them the expanded Duple group were building not only the Brittania and the Donington but also the Viscount and the Seagull 70, the differences were not just skin-deep either, all the Duple bodies had steel-reinforced hardwood frames, also Plaxton’s structural method, The Loughborough-built Donington and Viscount both used frame-sections made from rolled steel tubes, whilst Burlingham’s bodies (like those of Harrington and Yeates) were of jig-built aluminium.
Plaxton had refined the Panorama with subtler detailing and inward sloping pillars above the waistrail for the 1961 season. Like Harrington they also offered a more conservative option, in their case an Embassy body with twice as many side windows.
A more conservative option definitely wasn’t Yeates’ style, instead they introduced a more radical one, if the Europa was insufficiently in-your-face they could offer you the Fiesta, now with trapezoid glazing. Yeates was always going to be a minority choice, and as Yeates sold everyone else’s coachwork (their core business being dealership) perhaps they wanted it that way. 1961 proved though that on the premium chassis, Harrington was now second only to Plaxton, although Duple vastly outstripped either (and the Burlingham operation they now owned) in the market for lightweight day-trip coaches.

During 1961 the legal maximum width and length limits for buses and coaches was relaxed, new maxima were 36 ft by 8 ft 2½in, to take effect from January 1, 1962. Leyland and AEC had suitable models on the stocks by the end of the year whilst continuing production of the shorter-wheelbase models. These could legally carry a slightly longer body than 30 ft and the first 1962-season Cavalier delivered in December 1961 (a repeat order for Keith Coaches of Aylesbury on Reliance) was the first Cavalier 315, so called because it was 1 ft 5in longer than the previous model which enabled Harrington to fit 43 of its own seats into the coach, rather than the previous maximum of 41. Duple and Plaxton had offered a 43-seat plan within the older length limits, but their seats were a bit skimpier on padding and even so came close to infringing legal minimum length requirements.
During 1962 the original Cavalier was still offered as was the Cavalier 36, to the new maximum length. The 315 carried most of its extra length in a longer first side window, whilst the 36 ft version had this plus an extra shallower window just aft of the first bay which unlike the rest of the side glazing had a horizontal lower edge, the waistrail now resuming its dip at the third bay, this saved on the cost of extra tooling and made the Cavalier a truly modular range of coach bodies although it certainly did not look that way, the longer first bay window, to the same depth as the windscreen and with a forward sloping pillar made the front of the 315 coach look better balanced. Although the longer version was not as happy as the extended Panorama, tending to look slightly ‘droopy’ it neither looked as fussy as Blackpool’s Continental, or Addlestone’s Castillian nor was it quite as distracting as the Europa or Fiesta at the new length.
Harrington’s cleverness in construction was necessary for as well as three variants of the Cavalier Old Shoreham Road had to find space for car and minibus conversion work, production of Mark 2 Crusader and bus bodies on AEC Reliance and Albion Nimbus chassis. It was perhaps good news that Maidstone and District had finally been weaned off the Wayfarer Mark 4 and that model could be buried after a good innings. Still the end of the Wayfarer Mark 4 meant that the less timid customers would be wanting something more up to date than even the revised Cavalier Also plans came from Luton for a Bedford chassis for the new maximum length market sector; this was going to be radical in concept and not suitable to the Cavalier outline, nor that of any Cavalier Mark 2, still less would it suit an extended Crusader, so not only was the factory floor busy so were the designers in the drawing office. In its final year the 30 foot Cavalier sold 17, all on Reliance. Maidstone & District took ten, South Wales two and Trent Motor Traction, another BET firm, took 5, one of which was a replacement body on an accident-salvaged chassis built in 1958.
13 of the 31 ft 5in version were sold, all too existing customers. In the BET group Southdown took 3 more Leopards, Greenslades had three Reliances and Thomas Brothers of Port Talbot added a further Reliance; of the independents Glider ways took another Tiger Cub, Keith of Aylesbury, Harris of Greys and Summerbees of Southampton took more Reliance’s. A further Reliance was sold to Stanley Hughes, the Bradford dealer, who leased it for the 1962 season to Wallace Arnold Coaches of Leeds.
As well as these 30 short Cavaliers a further 26 of the 36 foot model were sold. Harrington also sold-off RNJ900, the original Cavalier demonstrator, replacing it with a 36-foot Reliance 470 registered VPM898, which in turn was sold in 1964 to Hall Bros of South Shields.
There were two different sorts of long AEC Reliance, the 470 (type 4MU) used the 7.68-litre engine of the shorter version, at a peak rating of 130 b.h.p, whilst the 590 (type 2U) used a 9.6-litre 140 b.h.p engine as in the export AEC Regal VI chassis.
Southdown chose two 49 seater Leopards to the new length, whilst Greenslades added to its collection of Cavaliers with three Reliance 590s and a new BET customer was Neath and Cardiff Coaches with two long Reliance 470s, seating the maximum 51.
The independent buyers of the Cavalier 36 in its first season placing repeat orders for the style were Abbot, Ellen Smith, Yelloway and Hawkey of Newquay and new Cavalier customers included Grey-Green, Hudson of Horncastle, Ayres of Dover, Liss & District in Hampshire and Straws of Leicester, formerly a Plaxton loyalist. Grey Green had its first 36 foot Cavalier on express service a month after the length was legal. The benefits of longer coaches were clearer for express services than for tours, especically tours to more remote scenic areas. Yelloway’s 36 footers had an option peculiar to the operator of additional destination displays over the second and fourth nearside windows. For express work there was also an optional destination box in the roof dome, as well as Yelloway, Grey Green were among the operators who specified this.
Fifty seven Cavaliers sold new was exactly half the 1961 performance but the coach market was in a downturn, in comparison Duple sold only nineteen Britannias on short Reliance’s and four on short Leopard, two of the A.E.Cs and one Leopard had old-fashioned central entrances. Blackpool built no further Seagull 70s but built 27 of its 36 ft Duple (Northern) Continental on Reliance’s, 12 on Leopard (including six for Ribble) and one Royal Tiger Worldmaster (a cancelled export order) for Happiways of Manchester. In the 1963 season the Cavalier faced internal competition from the Grenadier (see below) but 21 of the 31 ft 5in version and 49 of the 36 ft were sold. Existing customers who placed repeat orders for the short Cavalier were Southdown (4 Leopard L2), Greenslades (another Reliance), Grey Green’s orders included a short Reliance and ten Leopard L2 and Harris of Greys, Summerbee of Southampton and McIntyre of Aberdeen all took further Reliance’s, Harris’ being a rebody of a 1958 chassis damaged in an accident. New customers for the 31 ft 5in Cavalier were Munden of Bristol (Leopard L2) and Crump of Pinner (Reliance). A new option was fixed side glazing and forced ventilation. Southdown having this on its Leopards. All but one of the BET customers for the long Cavalier had taken the style before, Neath and Cardiff had two Reliance 470 and East Yorkshire four Leopard PSU3, Ribble had 22 on Leopard PSU3 with the new forced ventilation option, the other three were for a newly acquired Ribble subsidiary, Scout Motor Services of Preston, to the same specification as the Ribble examples. Grey Green had one Leopard PSU3 and one Reliance 470, the latter with forced ventilation. The other repeat orders from independents were from Yelloway who took 5 Reliance 590 with the jet-vent system, as well as the additional side destination screens and Ellen Smith, also of Rochdale, with a Leopard fitted with 45 reclining seats, Yelloway standardising on this luxurious option on its Reliances, the short ones seating only 37 as a result. New purchasers of the Cavalier 36 in its second season were Anglo-Continental of Tunbridge Wells (5 Reliance 590) Valliant of Ealing (4 Reliance 590) and Regent of Redditch with a single Reliance 590.
In 1963 Duple had three new styles for underfloor-engined chassis, the Alpine Continental was a longer-windowed version of the Continental whilst the Dragonfly was a 36 ft central entrance coach, both were built at Blackpool, the latter having a steel reinforced hardwood body frame. For the shorter A.E.Cs and Leyland’s the Britannia was finally replaced by the Hendon-built Commodore, which was a modification of the mass market Bella Vista body being 1 ft 10in longer with a front entrance and a maximum capacity of 45. Total Continental/Alpine Continental sales were 17, while only six Dragonflies were built, two Leyland demonstrators on Leopard and four for BET coach operator Samuelson of Victoria. The Commodore was also a sales disappointment, eight Reliance and three Leopard L2 being sold. Willowbrook however were gaining express-coach orders for its version of the BET-standard single Decker. In coach form four main bays were fitted as was fixed glazing and forced ventilation and there was an optional solid coach door and brighwork grille. Marshall and Weymann also built BET style express coaches. In contrast Plaxton had a further revised Panorama, with barely perceptible waist curvature and only three main side window bays on the 36 ft body, the dome was refined and thinner trim strips were used producing a body of unusual restraint for a Plaxton, it was an instant sales success. Ribble, for one, placing large orders.
Another competitive body was Alexander Y type, first shown in 1961, which in coach form had four trapezoid windows on each straight-waisted side and double curvature glazing front and rear. As well as selling massively to the Scottish Bus Group, BET fleets who took the style from 1962-3 were North Western and East Midland, followed in later seasons by Trent, Potteries, the Northern General Group, Hebble, Yorkshire Traction, Yorkshire Woollen and Stratford Blue, whilst three independents purchased the style over its lifetime, Scottish co-operative Wholesale Society had four Reliance’s, Venture of Consett took 12 Reliance’s and 26 Leopards, with eight more on order when Northern took them over, whilst Premier Travel of Cambridge had sixteen on Reliance. BET favoured steel-tube body framing and, as introduced, the Y type featured this Alexander’s reverting to aluminium framework from 1972/3.
The 1964 season short Cavaliers for BET fleets Greenslades (10 Reliance) and Devon General Grey Cars (8 Reliance) were notable in being to 7 ft 6in width and having Grenadier style dash panels. Grey Green took eleven, Leopard L2, Crump of Pinner took another Reliance and Hutchings & Cornelius with one Reliance became the last new customer for the Cavalier. 31 of the short version were built in its final season. There were eleven of the longer version, six were for Yelloway on Reliance 590, Grey Green took four Leopard PSU3, Valliant of Ealing had two Reliance 590 and Ellen Smith took a 49 seat Leopard PSU3. The only BET customer was Thomas Brothers of Port Talbot with a 49-seat Reliance 470.

In 1965 Yelloway took the last six 36-foot Cavaliers on Reliance 590. In all 359 Cavaliers had been built, one 30 ft demonstrator, one 36 ft and 357 coaches sold of which 199 were 30 ft, 65 31 ft 5in and 93 36 tethered were 99 30 ft Cavaliers sold (plus a demonstrator) on AEC Reliance 2MU chassis, 87 on Leyland Leopard L2T, seven on Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/2T and six on Albion Aberdonian MR11L.Cavalier 315 sales totalled 37 Reliance’s and 28 Leopards. Cavalier 36 sales comprised 39 Leopard PSU3, 52 Reliance 590 (2U) and 13 Reliance 470 (4MU) plus the demonstrator, which was sold after a year to Hall Bros. of South Shields who became a loyal Grenadier customer.
To supplement the Cavalier for the 1963 season the Grenadier was introduced, initially available on the longer chassis it was outwardly similar but a tauter-looking body, the structure was similar but the glazing was revised employing one fewer window per side and dipping less toward the rear. A larger windscreen was fitted with a more prominent peak; only the rear glass was carried over from the Cavalier. Revised front and rear GRP mouldings were employed, that at the front accenting the horizontal and carrying a larger destination box, that at the rear having horizontal rather than vertical light clusters. The forced-ventilation set up was standard, intakes for it being fitted in the front peak rather than in Plaxton-style air-scoops on the roof, these changes adding further to the cleanliness of line, the bright trim was of a similar layout to that of the Cavalier, the skirt mouldings being carried over virtually unchanged. Although roof quarter glazing was a common option on Cavaliers the less rounded roof-line of the Grenadier ensured Grenadiers with this option were rare.
The first two Grenadiers were a Reliance 590 for Harris of Greys and a Leopard PSU3 for Grey Green, both of which were shown at the 1962 Earls Court Commercial Motor show. In the initial season a further 36 ft Reliance 590 went to Abbott of Blackpool, two Leopards to Gliderways of Smethwick, five to Northern General (the only BET order) and a unique 33 ft Grenadier went to Hawkey of Newquay on a Reliance 590 with specially reduced front and rear overhangs, it was registered 900SAF and sat 47.

For the 1964 season a 31 ft 10in option for the shorter chassis was introduced. 39 of these went to six BET companies and seven independents, previous Harrington customers were North Western, Southdown, Trent and Timpson of Catford. Southdown specified the dash panels of the Cavalier on their batch. The return of North Western was maybe a surprise as they were a major supporter of the 11m Alexander Y type, but they obviously wanted something shorter (and a bit classier) for their extended tours, their two Leopard L2 had illuminated offside and nearside name badges under the second bay.
The two new BET customers were Western Welsh and Black & White Motorways of Cheltenham, both taking short Reliance’s. Straw of Leicester had previously taken the Cavalier and specified a Cavalier dash on its Reliance, conquest sales for the short Grenadier in the independent sector were to Jones of Aberbeeg, Birch Brothers and Motorways Overseas, both of London, Roman City of Bath and Wye Valley of Hereford; the first three operators took Reliance’s and the latter two Tiger Cubs, Roman City’s was a rebodied 1954 ex-Ribble coach whilst Wye Valley’s two new examples had 45 coach seats, not possible using Harrington seats, so Plaxton seats were purchased and fitted. For the long Grenadier there was only one BET purchaser, Maidstone & District taking five Reliance 590. BOAC took two of the same for its Glasgow-Prestwick Airport service.
The independent buyers were Abbott of Blackpool, Barton Transport Ltd, Bermuda of Nuneaton, Gliderways, Hall Brothers of South Shields, Jones, Keith of Aylesbury and Motorways Overseas. Of the 32 built 5 were on Leopards. All 27 Reliance’s were of the 590 type, Barton’s 979-988 (979-88 VRR) having Cavalier type windscreens and a roof mounted destination box as well as air operation for the coach door, enabling use as a bus. Hall Bros had an illuminated name badges on the nearside under the first bay on its three Leopards and sole Reliance 590. This was the final year of the dateless registration plate system and two classics were on Grenadier-bodied Reliance’s, Keith Coaches had 1234PP whilst the first of Maidstone & District’s carried 3294D. A change to legal regulations to come into effect from 1965 required additional emergency exits on bodies seating more than 45, on the Grenadier 36 the offside first bay, just aft of the drivers window, was to be fitted with a top-hinged exit door for its final two seasons.
Southdown headed the BET list for short Grenadiers taking another ten to its style on Leopard L2, North Western had a further three L2 and Samuleson of Victoria (their garage is now the Arrivals terminal for Victoria Coach Station) took four L2, the other BET purchasers chose the Reliance, Timpson of Catford taking four and their subsidiary Bourne & Balmer of Croydon taking two.
Private sector customers were, on Leopard, Grey Green (4) and Jones, Aberdeen (1), Ekcersley of St Helens took a Grenadier body on a reconditioned 1954 Tiger Cub chassis whilst Gliderways had two new Tiger Cubs, the rest were on Reliance, Bowen of Birmingham had three, and one each went to the following: Green Luxury, Walton-on-Thames, Harris of Greys, Hutchings & Cornelius, South Petherton, Rickard of Brentford and Warburton of Bury. The sole BET customer for the 36-foot Grenadier was Black & White Motorways of Cheltenham, taking five Leopard PSU3. Private-sector Leopard buyers were Hall Bros, South Shields (4), Lacey’s of West Ham (1, the 1964 show coach) and Ellen Smith (1). The Reliance list was headed by Barton Transport whose 1001-10 featured a destination box below the windscreen in lieu of the illuminated name badge, allowing the fitment of a standard Grenadier windscreen but they retained the power doors, they were registered BVO1-10C and featured Reliance 4U3RA air-suspended chassis, a very rare option on the home market; the only other air-sprung chassis to receive Harrington bodies were the initial Ribble and Southdown batches of Cavalier bodied Leopard L2T. Steel-sprung Reliance 590s went to Valliant of Ealing (four with top-sliding windows in lieu of forced vents), Motorways Overseas, London, Surrey Motors of Sutton (3 each), Regent of Redditch (2), Beavis of Bussage, Gloucestershire (one), Bermuda of Nuneaton (one) and Hawkey of Newquay (one). The 1965 sales list also included a 51-seat Reliance 470 for Hutchings and Cornelius.
Closure had been announced at the time of delivery of the 1966 examples, there was one batch at 31 ft 10in comprising four Reliance’s for Greenslades. The 36-footers comprised 15 Reliance 590 for Maidstone and District, 8 with top sliders for Devon General’s Grey Cars operation and a final six Leopard PSU3 for Grey-Green. Greenslades FFJ13D was shown in a valedictory appearance for Harrington’s at the 1966 Brighton Coach Rally. It bore plaques proclaiming it the final Harrington body built.
192 Grenadiers were built, one to 33 ft length, 82 to 31 ft 10in and 109 to 36 ft. Two of the shortest versions were on rebodied Leyland Tiger Cub, and four on new Leyland Tiger Cub PSUC1/12T chassis, 34 on Leyland Leopard L2T, and the remaining 42 on short-wheelbase AEC Reliance 470 2MU3RA. Of the 109 to 36-foot length, eleven were built in 1963, seventy-one in 1964, seventy-seven in 1965 and 33 in 1966. Of those, one was a Reliance 470 4MU3RA, 68 were Reliance 590 2U3RA and ten were air-sprung Reliance 4U3RA, the total on Leyland Leopard PSU3 was 30.
The sole 33 ft version was on a modified Reliance 2U3RA. During 1961 Vauxhall Motors told British coachbuilders about their new design to be produced from the end of 1962. The Bedford VAL was a twin-steering chassis with a long front overhang designed for an entrance ahead of the steering axles, a unique feature of the type was that the wheels were only 16-inch in diameter, which in turn reduced the floor height of bodied examples, the radiator was mounted at the front and immediately behind it was the 125 b.h.p Leyland O.400 engine. The Harrington Legionnaire was a square-rigged body with straight waistrail and five deep windows per side, one less than the Duple Vega Major and one more than the Plaxton Val. It also differed from the Cavalier and Grenadier by having plated window surrounds, there was a large brightwork grille and twin headlights, a Grenadier style front windscreen was used with a similar sized one at the rear. Above the windscreen was a destination box or illuminated name board and above that a prominent peak.
At the rear the illuminated name board was inside the rear glass and this was fitted the other way about to the front, meaning the first and last pillars had a pronounced forward rake to them whilst all the others were vertical. The Cantrail was flat above it was a roof section of very shallow curvature. The mark two which followed in 1964 for the final two seasons omitted this flat cantrail and had a roof of compound curvature, which reduced the tall square effect of the original but reduced space in the overhead luggage racks. The Legionnaire was built on the Bedford VAL, the more conventional Ford Thames 36 and there were also two specials on Guy Victory tram bus chassis. The Legionnaire took its fame from the 1969 film The Italian Job. The ending of the film involves a MkII Legionnaire (ALR 453B) hanging over a cliff in the Alps, as the driver had took the coach into a skid and lost control. A remake model can be seen at the De La Warr Pavilion art gallery.

Beechdale RTA 04.00 today

There was an RTA on Stephenson Avenue at around 4 a.m this morning. Here are some pictures taken around 5 hours later.Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The accident involved 2 parked cars and a Vauxhall Corsa. The two parked vehicles were written off, the one on the pavement has a twisted chassis and is awaiting collection by the insurance company. but the driver door will not open because of the damage. The other vehicle is still on the road towards the housing association building, but has extensive damage to the rear end. The Corsa was being driven by a young man and although he originally made off! Was detained by the police later, he was taken to hospital so that his injuries could be seen too. I have no idea what speed he was travelling but the skid mark is 9 of those white line markings plus the gaps, on the road. Luckily NO ONE ELSE was involved. The Corsa was taken away by E & S Motors for examination, but was obviously going to be a write off. It could have been so different