AEC Swift MP2R
My Thanks to Ian Beswick for contributing the above excellent shot of this Rochdale Corporation AEC Swift with its Seddon body who also supplied bus bodies under the name of Pennine.
The Swift was AECs move into the rear engined single decker market. It first appeared at the 1964 commercial motor show and there were two versions a low frame for bus work and a high frame for coach operations. Operators also had the choice of either the 16ft 6in wheelbase for a vehicle length of 33ft or 18ft 6in for a 36ft vehicle. The high frame version allowed for luggage to be stored in underfloor side lockers due to the fact that the rear of the vehicle housed the horizontal six cylinder diesel engine. Yet again there was a choice of two engines the AH505 ?? litre or the AH691 11·3 litre. London transport acquired several 36 ft 11·3 litre Swifts which they called Merlings (MB) for some reason best known to them, but the manoeuvrability was poor so the shorter version (SM) were acquired but due to the shorter length they had to have the AH508 8·2 litre engine which rendered them well under powered.
Photograph contributed by Ian Beswick
When AEC first announced its rear-engined single deckers, there were to be two models, the medium-weight Swift with the AH505 engine (33ft or 36ft), and the heavy-duty Merlin with the AH691 (36ft only). London Transport ordered their Merlins at that stage.
By the time the two models went into production, they had been harmonised to such a degree that AEC renamed them Swift 505 and Swift 691. But LT always persisted with the original names.
Can someone give technical information on the Swift Chassis, like its length, weight, width and other information?
The Swift was the first joint production with Leyland after the 1962 "merger".
The main chassis frame, and other components, were common to the Swift and the Panther. The engines and axles were unique to each respective model.
There was a 32’6" (AH505) model (Leyland was the Panther Cub with 0.400 engine). There was a 36’0" long (AH505 or AH691) model (Leyland was the 0.600 Panther).
All were 8’2½" wide. There was the most common bus version with a lower front frame and the high frame model intended for coach work. In the event, no AEC Swifts were built with high frames but there were a number of high frame Panthers, some with 0.680 engines.
Does anybody by chance know the weight of the AEC SWIFT AH505 Chassis?
13/02/12 – 07:18
I once worked with a former London Transport engineer, who told me how Merlins were constantly being reported for defective engine stops. Quite often the true explanation turned out to be that the awful engine had worn its cylinder bores oval, so the bus was actually burning its own sump oil which was leaking past the piston rings! No good cutting off the diesel if that isn’t what’s burning…!
And, I once attended a Traffic Commissioner’s hearing in Southampton where Bill Lewis, then General Manager, responded to a question about the Southampton Swifts by saying: "If only someone would make me an offer for them!". Not one of AEC’s best efforts!
21/04/12 – 11:38
I had a couple of holidays in South Australia in the mid 90s where I saw many ex Adelaide Swifts in various guises. Their were some in a yard at Port Adelaide being converted for further use. In Port Pirie the local bus company had about 6 in use. There was one on town service in Port Lincoln. One at Port Kenny as a caravan which had a Hino engine a popular conversion with mobile home conversions. A further mobile home in North Adelaide. Another in Woolaston near Gawler. In a Marina at Port Adelaide I found one in use as a support vehicle for a film company who had four more in stock for the same purpose all still with their AEC engines, one of which had just returned from filming a documentary in the out back doing many miles off road. I read a couple of years ago the some Swifts had been refurbished and sold to a mining company on an island in Indonesia for staff transport. All this info suggests that the poor reputation of the Swifts might be unjustified.
21/07/12 – 12:19
As an enthusiastic operator of AEC’s Swift. I find it difficult to imagine how a few operators apparently had so much trouble with them. From working for an independent who acquired nine of them second hand … and with more to put into service had he not passed away, to running four of my own, I found them excellent, reliable and economical work-horses. Any mechanical maladies were easily attended to as everything was practically laid out in typical AEC fashion. There are few more challenging bus operating areas than North Staffordshire with it’s mix of dense urban environment and steep hills. All ours were 505 powered which generally allowed 10mpg on service and any feeling of being underpowered was usually attributable to a stretched accelerator cable in my experience. Were I still operating today, I’d have no hesitation in having one around as a spare bus … indeed I share a preserved one. (ps. The 505 was generally regarded as being just under 8.2 litres swept volume and had power outputs up to about 160bhp)
20/03/14 – 17:37
Happened on this site purely by accident. In no way consider myself a bus enthusiast. Rootes Classic cars are my scene.
But many of the photos on this site have stirred up some vivid childhood memories from growing up in Alkrington, Middleton on the 17 Manchester / Rochdale route.
Like – how immaculate the Rochdale buses on this route always were. Loved the blue/cream livery and the deep blue seats. AND on this route were Lady Conductors! Unheard of in Manchester. As a 10 yo I developed a hopeless crush on one particularly pretty chatty girl and it was a thrill when she came along to issue the ticket.
I’m pretty sure that this route 17 and the 24 to Rochdale via Broadway/Royton are two of very few to have retained their original route numbers to the present day since WW2 and maybe before. The 17 was certainly the tram route number way back when (not that I remember that far back!)
21/03/14 – 17:58
Yes, the 17 has a very long history and as a bus service it has the longest possible history of using the same number in Manchester, as it dates from the introduction of route numbering in 1930 although at that point it was an express service from Bacup to Flixton. It took its current form in 1932.
Whilst there are several routes that have remained essentially the same for many years, the 17 has avoided being renumbered in all that time. The 24, by contrast, is a comparative youngster, as it dates from the acquisition of the Yelloway service from Manchester to Rochdale at that time.
22/03/14 – 08:20
Another route 17 (and 18) is that of Portsmouth Corporation (and successors’) tennis racquet-shaped route from Dockyard-Eastney-Dockyard. It lasted, unchanged, for about 82 years, until a major re-arrangement of services brought its demise last year.
Here is a trolleybus on the route- www.old-bus-photos.co.uk/