Gem Luxury Coaches
A rare sight today is this Bedford OB. Rare because it carries a Plaxton body rather than than the ubiquitous Duple Vista which survives in greater numbers. Chassis number 134198, body number 579 was new to C W Blankley (Gem Luxury Coaches) Colsterworth in June 1950. It is now owned by Mr Ken Edwards of Llanon in Cardiganshire and who shows it with pride at many events near and far every year. This view sees it in August 2016 at an event organised in honour of the memory of Stan & Wyndham Rees, formerly of Midway Motors, Crymych. Appropriately this well-attended event was held in fields directly opposite Midway’s depot in Pembrokeshire.
Photograph and Copy contributed by Les Dickinson
25/08/16 – 06:12
Now this is a real beauty and an interesting one because the door is positioned further forward than on the contemporary Duple Vista. Judging by the small window ahead of the door, it would appear that this coach didn’t have a front seat beside the driver. I may be in a minority but I’d say this Plaxton body beats the Duple version on looks and style but without that much coveted front seat, I’m afraid several points must be deducted!
26/08/16 – 05:11
I’m sure someone will know the actual dimensions but when seen alongside the Duple version, Plaxton’s offering was noticeably taller than the other. My personal opinion of the design is that the ‘fin’ shaped moulding towards the front spoils what is otherwise a decent design.
26/08/16 – 05:13
Sorry, Chris B – rare as it is, I am glad the Duple version was the most common. Somehow the Plaxton version just seems wrong. The deep windscreens give it a goggle-eyed appearance and the heavy streamlining makes the rear end look to be sagging. No doubt to save money, Plaxton seemed to have used a full-front, forward-control body design and adapted it to a normal control chassis. Duple, on the other hand, designed the Vista from scratch, with all the right proportions. Mind you, if this turned up to offer me a ride, I’d jump on board!
26/08/16 – 14:15
I agree with Paul, the Plaxton design was not as attractive as the more popular Duple Vista, and did not have the front seat beside the driver. I am not sure how many Plaxton bonneted ones were built and they went over to the even more ugly full front version which retained the original radiator grille & headlamps, none of these according to my records have survived.
Only one other bonneted one EAJ 679 preserved with Lockett of Henfield ironically in almost same colour scheme to ETL 221 above owned by Ken Edwards of Llanon
27/08/16 – 05:35
Despite being a huge fan of older Duple body designs, including the Vista, I have to help balance this thread by saying that I think the Plaxton K3 body looked really well on the OB, even preferring it (only just) to the Vista – a bit less dumpy and with neater windows, though the Vista may have looked slightly better from the back (not appreciable on these photos). It’s of course all in the eye of the beholder, as they say.
27/08/16 – 15:31
A photo of the rear of EAJ679 can be found at this link: http://tinyurl.com/zc5fcmn
Although it could be argued that the Vista rear with twin windows and other aspects like fake bumper is a little more fussy, I prefer it to the Plaxton, which is rather bland, some might argue plain. However, liveries can make a real difference to a PSV’s looks, as we all know.
27/08/16 – 15:32
Photos of Duple Vista & Plaxton rears for comparison
28/08/16 – 06:21
Yes, the rear view has clinched it for me. Duple wins with the pleasing windows, the more attractive mouldings and the colour break at the waist level, rather than, awkwardly, reaching to the floor with the roof colour.
28/08/16 – 06:22
Here’s another comparison for the discussion. MYB 33 and ETL 221 are seen – front ends only – at Weymouth on 1 July 1979.
28/08/16 – 10:41
I have to agree on one major point with Petras409. While I am a great admirer of both the Duple and the Plaxton designs – and their quality construction – I’m the first to acknowledge that the strange "archway" effect at the rear of the Plaxton is very distinctly "prewar" – and the same applies even on the full size versions. A real case of "spoiling the ship for a ha’porth of tar."
28/08/16 – 16:25
I see that most here prefer the Duple rather than the Plaxton design for the OBs illustrated. I do tend to agree, but I do wonder whether it is because the Duple was so widespread, whereas the Plaxton was less common? I wonder what we would be saying if the quantities produced were reversed, and we would measure everything else by the Plaxton design? Would we be saying the Duple was too fussy? Just food for thought. . .
28/08/16 – 16:26
The frontal design of the Duple blends the bodywork neatly into the taper of the bonnet in a way that gives the design a classic, unified appearance. On the Plaxton, the bulkhead behind the engine forms a flat projection beyond the bonnet sides in a manner adopted by some other coachbuilders on bonneted chassis, Strachans, for example. Those were the days when Duple bodies were in the forefront of styling and construction. From the later 1960s they were the amongst the ugliest things on the road.