Ribble Motor Services
Leyland Panther PSUR1/2RT
Odd man out in the Ribble fleet for over ten years was the first production Leyland Panther, which I photographed outside the September 1964 Earls Court Commercial Motor Show.
It is possible that it entered Ribble service for a spell before the show, and early on in its career it ran on the Blackpool to London service, presumably on hire to Standerwick. It operated from Preston garage for most of its life. Withdrawn from service in 9/75, no further owners are known to me.
Photographs of it actually in service are few and far between, the few I have seen are usually on private hire work.
Any recollections or in service photos would be of great interest!
It seems that Panther coaches were not too common.
From ‘Bus Lists On The Web’ and Doug Jack’s ‘Leyland’ book, I see that there were some other PSUR1/2 coaches for the home market, as follows:
15 for East Yorkshire in 1966, with Marshall bus bodies! B49F (why use a coach chassis you may ask!)
2 for East Yorkshire with Metro Cammell C44F bodies in 6/67
4 for East Yorkshire in 1/68 with Marshall DP49F bodies
5 for East Yorkshire in 1968 with Plaxton C44F bodies
1 for Soudley Valley Coaches, Glos in 11/66 with Plaxton C51F body
10 for Seamarks of Westoning, Beds with O/680 engines and Plaxton C51F bodies in 1968 (full air change ?)
6 for Seamarks with Plaxton C51F bodies in 1969
4 for Skills of Nottingham, two in 1969 and two PSUR1B/2R in
1971 all with Plaxton C51F bodies
Photos of any of these would be of interest.
Many more were exported, which was also the case with the bus version, which did well in Australia.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Peter G Greaves
This unique Panther was the reason that Ribble continued to buy large numbers of Leopards (bus, DP and coach versions) and ultimately why they became a major RE user. It was a disaster. Unreliable, it probably slept in the corner of Frenchwood for much of its life and was condemned to private hire to avoid the (bad) publicity of breakdown on high profile long distance express services. The sad fact was that the Leopard was reliable, the Panther not.
Some, including Preston Corporation and the Aussies, persisted with the Panther and seemed to make it work but most British operators – including Manchester – had similar experience. It put back the case for low(er) floor vehicles for some years – and certainly until the RE was made available on the open market later in the decade.
[I think that you will also find that Maidstone and District had similar numbers and types of Panther as East Yorkshire.]
This must also have been a fairly early Marshall body for both Ribble and BET – who became a major, and repeat, customer of this well built body. [Even stars have Achilles heels though and I gather in grand old age - ie in preservation - some Marshalls need quite a bit of tlc, otherwise their front platform can fall off!]
The East Yorkshire Met-Camms were full coaches of the Topaz design – although I seem to remember that that was the "Bedford" designation and that Leylands had a different name. After closure of Weymann at Addlestone, Metro-Cammell took on the mantle of coaches from the line of the Fanfare and Castillians. They were true coaches but they never realised a balanced design that pleased either generally or, indeed, as a coach.
All the early rear-engined single deckers – Roadliner, Panther, Panther Cub and Swift/Merlin – were pretty disastrous, apart from the Bristol RE, which possibly benefited from having the radiator at the front and the engine mounted slightly further forward than the others.
As you say, some operators persevered, and Sunderland reckoned that by the time they got it right the Panther was a really good vehicle. Their experience included a comparison of bodies between MCW’s, which was attached to the chassis throughout, and a much more successful effort by Strachan which featured a separate cantilevered subframe supporting the rear end of the body, allowing the chassis to go its own way.
According to Stewart J Brown’s "Luxury Travel" book, the East Yorkshire MCW coaches were designated Topaz II.
03/09/11 – 05:41
This machine was used in the late 60s and early 70s at various times in addition to Private Hire on Stage Carriage and on two or three times to my knowledge on the X30 Preston to Glasgow, X11 Preston Edinburgh and the X20 Preston to Glasgow Night Service Express. As these services operated as a duplicate to the peak season service from Manchester and Liverpool any coach or DP could be used from Preston.
04/09/11 – 07:54
I always disliked this type of incongruous sharp cornered radiator grille on otherwise handsome bodies. They gave the impression of having been assembled "in house" from spare material after possible accident repairs and never looked right to me.