Dieselpunks

Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Lord K's Garage - #48. British Streamline Buses

This 1947 advertisement for the Duple coachwork embodies the spirit of the British bus design:

In good old England there was a homegrown streamline style - the Airline (see SS Airline Saloon). Besides, the coachbuilders were influenced by the American buses, notably Yellow Coach Model 719 and Flxible Clipper. The influence was first and foremost aesthetic - while on the other side of the pond buses already had their engine transversely mounted in the rear, the Classic British Omnibus (double- or single-decker, no matter) retained the classic front-engine layout.

1935 advertisement

Wide bus body made it possible to arrange the driver seat beside the engine compartment and not behind it (this is a layout familiar to everyone thanks to the London icon, the majestic Routemaster). Smaller, narrower platforms required more conservative approach, and the bus looked like an elongated private car:

1937 Bedford bus with Duple Hendonian body


Of course, as early as in the 1930's different companies tried to introduce some new ideas. The most revolutionary was the rear-engine AEC Q-type, inspired by the American Twin Coach:

It was beautiful, sleek but unreliable and phased out of service well before its old-fashioned contemporaries.

The other try was the COE (cabin-over-engine) layout employed by Leyland:

Leyland TF series, ordered by the London Transport, was quite successful.

Speaking of double-deckers, the dominating style was angular. Here's a rare exception (with streamline paintjob):

c. 1938 Crossley Mancunian


Single-deckers had more modern appearance:

1930's advertisement for AEC Regal III

AEC Regal III with Gurney Nutting body

After the WWII, little has changed. The coachbuilders continued with their earlier designs - for the front-engine buses that looked more and more outdated.

1948 Bristol L6

1948 Seddon MK4

1949 Leyland Tiger

1947 Bedford OB with Plaxton body


I must admit that in Netherlands the British-made buses had different, more businesslike appearance:

1948 Crossley (Netherlands Railways order)


1950 AEC Regal Mk IV

But Regal IV looked smart not only on the Dutch side of the Channel: with its engine under the floor (and no hood!) it was the first omnibus of the new generation. With more Regal IVs (and its rivals) on the road, the owners of older buses quite often ordered new bodies for sturdy and reliable prewar-type platforms.

1938 AEC Regal III, rebodied in the 1950's

Where's the engine?! Another AEC III with a 1950's bodywork

Will the real Regal III please stand up?
One of the last III-type buses, 1950

1953 Leyland with Beadle Integral body

Beautiful Bristol LWL6B

Bedford SBG with 'Seagull' body

1955 AEC with Plaxton body

Karrier Q25

Commer TS3 - American look in UK

Shorter wheelbase Commer TS3

1956 Commer Avenger with Duple Vega body

Another 1956 Duple Vega on Bedford SB3 platform

1957 Bedford SB3 with Plaxton body

So, you can chose between the beautiful curves of the prewar / early postwar coaches and the bubblier Space Age looks of the later buses. Whatever your choice will be, let us admit: the Classic British Omnibus has tons of charm in any guise.

Text: lord_k
Images: Transport Illustrated (highly recommended), Farrow Coach, Crossley Motors, Bedford OB Group, Albert S. Bite & mickeyashworth @ Flickr

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Comment by lord_k on July 31, 2010 at 7:44am
I should have mentioned that in the 1930's and 40's most of the British coaches had wooden bodies, only the cabin was made from sheet metal.
Comment by IRON CROSS on July 30, 2010 at 8:05pm
nice very cool lots of curves and rounded lines somthing for every one

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