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.
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 The coachbuilders continued with their earlier designs - for the front-engine buses that looked more and more outdated.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
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