Friday, 7 September 2007

7+1 Classic UK Buses

Fourth in the ‘7+1’ series, this post surely cannot be as controversial as the last one.

In five lines or fewer, here is Omnibuses2.0's quick review of seven-plus-one important UK bus chassis. Feel free to add your own comments on these or other UK manufactured buses we might've missed.

1. Bristol RE
1963-1975 (to 1984 in some markets)
Bristol’s most successful chassis ever, and hugely popular with traffic and engineering departments. Its high capacity made it suitable for a range of coach and bus duties. Initially restricted to nationalised fleets, once available on the open market the popular RE introduced Bristol chassis far and wide. Noisy. Attractive ECW bodies tended to rattle.

2. Bristol Lodekka
The LD was the first lowbridge British double deck design to overcome the upper four-abreast seating and sunken gangway protruding to the lower saloon. Its successor, the F-series was Britain’s first-ever flat-floor bus. Both were somewhat difficult to drive, though.

3. Dennis Dart
Who in the 1980s would’ve predicted that Britain’s best-selling single deck/midibus would be a ‘Dennis’? A post-minibus product on the market at the right time, the Dart was from 1995 to become the low floor standard. It grew to ‘proper’ bus proportions and outsold even the mighty Leyland National. Typical Pointer bodies unattractively boxy.

4. Ford Transit
1985-1990 in its Gen 1 form
The Gen 1 mini, the building blocks of a marketing-led revolution that somewhat unexpectedly changed the face of urban transport – for a while. A little rough and harsh may be, the Transit nevertheless contributed to significant passenger interest in public transport. Never underestimate their customer appeal.

5. Leyland Atlantean
Coinciding with a relaxation in double deck length to 30ft, this rear-engined pioneer allowed the driver to control the service door, maximising space & safety. The ability from 1966 to operate deckers without conductors cemented Atlantean’s popularity at a time of increasing financial hardship for operators. The rest is history.

6. Leyland National
It was politics with a small ‘p’ rather than the design’s quality that ensured the National’s success. The initially unpopular standardised, modular, integral design marked a change in manufacturing practice, and managed to become Britain’s best-selling bus at that time.

7. Routemaster
Quintessential design loved by many and, for its time, one of the easiest buses to drive, maintain and refurbish. In spite of withdrawals, the RM soldiered on in regular London service till 2005. Chilly open platforms, restricted passenger head- and leg-room and ultimately abysmal access killed this remarkable step forward in engineering.

7+1 Mercedes Citaro
Not British but a classic in the making? Clean lines, sound build quality, a dream to drive, a good ride, and tremendous presence on the road make this ultra-modern single deck probably the best manufactured ever, whether in conventional or bendy format. Popular throughout Europe and now in England, too.


Anonymous said...

How can you mention "Routemaster" and "Citaro" in the same post about CLASSIC buses?

Anonymous said...

for my money i would have picked the optare tempo as the 7+1 because its british and is a very good bus to drive very powerfull

Freebird said...

Ford Transit? You have a larf?

cogidubnus said...

Bu**er the Citaro - whatever happened to the good old Queen Mary - the PD3 genuinely WAS a classic bus - there is also a claim for the Regent Three (in London known as an RT)- backbone of the municipals at one time...

Titan said...

Yeah, PD3 should be there. Simple, reliable, solid. Take out the Lodekka and replace it with the Titan PD3!

Si said...

The Citaro was the +1 so was obviously going to be a little off piste. I don't think it has to be old to be classic, and it is just the writer's opinion at the end of the day.

busing said...

Interesting comments. Thank you. I agreed that it should be 8+1 to include the PD3!

Si is of course correct in that the +1 tends to be slightly off beat but I do feel that as a very accomplished bus the Citaro is a classic in the making. There are over 15,000 of them knocking around Europe, BTW.

Dave Mootr said...

Lodekkas difficult to drive? I don't have any problems, even with my 5'4" height! Just take your time with the crash gearbox.