Leyland Atlantean PDR1/2
This is one of a batch of 22 very contentious Leyland Atlanteans with Willowbrook H44/32F bodies delivered to Coventry Transport in January 1965, the issue being that they were Leylands delivered to the home city of Daimler who since the war had been almost the only supplier of buses to the company. The order may have been made to apply some pressure to Daimler for some reason which appears to have been successful as a similar batch of Fleetlines with near identical bodies were delivered within six months these were followed by more Fleetlines with ECW and then East Lancs bodies until the mid seventies, I think one of the Atlanteans appeared at the 1964 Earls Court show.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Diesel Dave
20/07/14 – 17:32
In Commercial Motor magazine dated 11th September 1964 the following report was published.
"Leyland Motors Ltd. has introduced a new version of the Atlantean rear-engined chassis which is fitted with a drop-centre rear axle, permitting a straight-through, stepless gangway in the lower saloon.
Delivery is now being made to Coventry Corporation of 22 buses of this type, fitted with 76-seat bodies by Willowbrook Ltd. Overall height of the new vehicles is 14 ft. 0 in. unladen, 4 in, less than the normal ‘highbridge’ Atlantean, yet ample headroom is still provided in each saloon.
One of Coventry’s new Atlanteans will be shown on the Willowbrook stand at the Commercial Motor Show, and several other examples employing the new chassis will also be seen. Side and front elevations of the new Willowbrook bodied Atlantean are shown in the accompanying drawing. Ample luggage space is a feature of this body."
21/07/14 – 07:26
Dave, if your theory is correct then the issue with Daimler may well have been price. I have heard that Salford’s change of allegiance from Daimler to Leyland in 1963 was for that reason, although they of course never went back.
21/07/14 – 07:27
Could the idea be sold in Coventry, then, Stephen, because the Atlanteans had Daimler running gear and the great BL meltdown had begun? Or am I wrong?
These do look like uglibus candidates- I haven’t seen one, but Yorkshire Traction had some…. www.flickr.com/photos/
The glass fibre fronts & domes look like add on body kits. Interestingly the Coventry examples look distinctly under ventilated, whilst Tracky go to the other extreme.
21/07/14 – 07:29
These Atlanteans were of the newly introduced PDR1/2 model which was fitted with a Daimler dropped centre rear axle and gearbox, which was intended to facilitate lowheight bodywork without the need for a sunken side gangway at the rear, which was a feature of early lowbridge Atlanteans based on the PDR1/1 model. I don’t think Coventry had any need of lowbridge vehicles, but the inclusion of Daimler components would have standardisation benefits when the fleet later included Fleetlines. Presumably this was always the intention. Manchester Corporation also bought the PDR1/2 model (132 of them) alongside their 130 Fleetlines with MCW "Orion" bodies. I always thought these had a rather odd mixture of sound effects.
Many years later, I would drive Daimler Fleetlines with Leyland Engines (bought by Crosville from Southdown) which felt more like Atlanteans than Fleetlines, the engine sound on these tended to dominate the gearbox sound. These buses also had direct air gearchange and a step from the platform to the lower deck – both "Atlanteanish" features.
I thought these Willowbrook bodies were a very attractive design, enhanced by the Coventry livery. They introduced a more conventionally shaped service number blind, after years of the rather odd arrangement with equally sized and shaped destination and service number screens.
21/07/14 – 15:21
At the time of the order Daimler was an independent company that was part of the Jaguar group along with Guy. At the time Leyland Motors was a very profitable concern it all went pear shaped after the shot gun marriage between them and BMC in the late sixties. Although Leyland were already being starting to give the industry what they wanted and not the other way round.
21/07/14 – 15:28
When Coventry issued the tender for this order, they specified a low floor design, presumably thinking that only Daimler could deliver such a vehicle. However Leyland, no doubt spotting the opportunity to sell to Daimler’s home city hastily put together their own low floor design. They won the order on price but delivery was delayed by development problems. This is not the livery that these buses carried at delivery. The maroon was originally only applied to the lower skirt, a band above the lower windows, another below the upper windows and the roof. The destination blinds also differed, as shown on the blueprint image.
22/07/14 – 06:53
The Yorkshire Traction vehicle shown in the link above was one of four that were diverted from a Devon General order, indeed they entered service in Devon General livery and ran in that form for some time.
Before eventually finishing up in the nondescript NBC colours shown in the photo they did run in traditional YTC Livery of BET crimson and light cream, a combination that really suited this bodywork.
22/07/14 – 06:54
Most sources say that although the PDR1/2 did have a Daimler gearbox, the drop-centre rear axle was the Albion Lowlander unit rather than the one from the Fleetline.
With regard to the odd sound effects in Manchester, the only engine officially offered in the PDR1/2 was the O600, since the Daimler gearbox, at that early stage in its history, couldn’t take the extra torque of the O680 in Atlantean fettle. However, Manchester wanted O680 engines for durability rather than extra power, and specified a specially derated version at 130bhp. This may account for their subdued and breathy engine note, which allowed the gearbox to sing more prominently than in some other applications.