The Dennis Dart

The Dennis Dart was a sophisticated little machine that was a great advance upon its forebears, the 36 bhp 2.72 litre four cylinder side valve powered G, and the slightly longer GL which had a 42 bhp ohv version of the same engine design (see OBP Llandudno UDC - Dennis GL - CC 8671). The Dart was introduced in 1929 and was propelled by a wet liner, six cylinder pushrod ohv engine of 4.086 litres that could develop up to 70 bhp. Coupled with a four speed gearbox, road speeds in excess of 50 mph were attainable. Fuel consumption was claimed to be 15 mpg on main roads and 11 mpg in urban conditions. Most Dart production was bodied for bus and coach work, but some were used as lorries. Unusually for Dennis, only three were equipped with fire engine bodies, and all of them went to New Zealand :-
The earliest examples of the Dart had a radiator grille similar in shape to the EV model as seen on the fire engine, but this was soon replaced by the Arrow/ Lance style of grille shown on TJ 836. From 1930, The London General Omnibus Company adopted the Dart as its standard small bus for OMO duties, taking a total of 42.
Like the six cylinder 100 bhp Arrow, the Dart came on the scene at a difficult time when the economy was in the severe doldrums following the 1929 financial crash. The Arrow was quickly replaced in 1931 by the more utilitarian four cylinder Lancet, and the Dart was followed in 1933 by the rugged and reliable 'Flying Pig' Ace model which had the utterly dependable 60 bhp four cylinder 3.77 litre side valve motor, an engine that remained in production up to the 1960s. When the London Transport Passenger Board came into existence in 1933 it deliberated for some time in its choice of a new 20 seater bus for OMO duties before finally coming down in favour of the Leyland Cub in 1935. The influencing factor seems to have been Leyland's introduction of the 4.4 litre six cylinder diesel engine for the Cub. Other models from Thornycroft and Dennis were considered by the LPTB, but the only diesel options from those manufacturers were the Gardner 4LK or the temperamental and barely developed Perkins Wolf, both of which were four cylinder designs. In service, the Cub's original direct injection Leyland unit proved to be troublesome, and it was superseded by an indirect injection version. All the London Darts remained in service until 1939, when they were due to be ousted by the revolutionary new rear engined version of the Cub, the CR, the sad tale of which may be found elsewhere on OBP :-

Roger Cox



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