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PostPosted: Thu Oct 09, 2014 11:48 am 
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To 9711T and other members of the forum,
You are perhaps aware of the tourist in Ireland who asks a local:

“How do I get to Killarney?”

And the local replies:

“I would not start from here.”

By 1968, and I would argue from 1962, Leyland were in a position from which a rationalised range of commercial vehicles could not be easily achieved, certainly by the end of 1962 and the conclusion of the ACV share-exchange, they were expected to run two competitive heavy vehicle operations in their home market whilst unifying the export range. At that time the best engineering manager Leyland Motors had produced had just turned Standard-Triumph from a basket case into a viable operation, although competing (in its more profitable lines) with Rover, which Leyland also bought–over in 1967. When Donald Stokes was preferred as LMC CEO, Stanley Markland did the only thing that he could honourably do and left the organisation at his scheduled retirement age of 60; he was at the time 13 years younger than William Rushton ‘Bill’ Black (a time-served Coachbuilder) who had replaced Henry Spurrier III as LMC chairman on the latter’s retirement due to terminal illness.

Neglecting operations only producing units for commercial vehicles and the Standard-Triumph operation, then ACV had two factories (Southall and Basingstoke) producing HGV chassis, and another two PSV coachbuilding operations (Park Royal and Roe). Leyland did not have a coachbuilding facility and like Thornycroft, Scammell was a specialist producer, although with more penetration into general haulage than its Hampshire counterpart, Albion’s PSV production was predominantly for export, the assembly of the Lowlander at Scotstoun (although all units were built at Leyland) was seen as a good political move given the major buying group had its HQ in Edinburgh.

Albion’s orders for its LAD-cab models however climbed massively and continued to do so, the Reiver becoming the UK market-leading six wheeled rigid, a postion it retained (with two other cabs and a late move to Bathgate) until it was eventually discontinued in favour of Leyland built T45 models. Leyland itself had huge export sales, primarily for the Comet and the Worldmaster; the 11m Leopard would continue this, Leyland Heavies being the choice of most home fleet operators who did not prefer their rivals from Middlesex.

The next engineer in a director’s post at LMC was appointed in 1964 and that was Professor Fogg, he had an obsession with radical new technology, and that actually left Leyland’s trucks behind the opposition. Whilst EEC membership was not granted to the UK until 1973 the rival European Free Trade Area had been set up between the UK and the Nordic nations, Sweden in particular were early in introducing emission regulations (both smoke and noise) for new heavy vehicles and both Volvo and Scania-Vabis (Scania after 1968) began to acheive succesful conquest sales into the UK with their lorries from the late-1960s, particulary at the premium end.

Also to be noted was the climb up the wieght–range by GM (Bedford) Ford and BMC, and also Commer and Dodge. That said, only Ford really got it right with the bigger D-Series (at the second attempt) by employing the Perkins V8 (although it was Ford-badged).

Peter Pugh in his book on Rolls-Royce noted that Ford and Jaguar originally both approached R-R’s diesel engine division around 1965-6 with a requirement for a lightweight V8. When R-R refused to sell its engine to Ford clean of attribution, BMH had just happened, because, Paul Skilleter notes, that although William Lyons respected Leyland as an organisation, and his son (killed in a car-crash supporting the 1959 Jaguar Le Mans Team) served his time with Leyland, he neither liked nor trusted Stokes, finding George Harriman more to his liking. The Mastiff thus was designed for a V8 Rolls-Royce 6.7 litre turbo-diesel which was cancelled by BLMC. So on launch it too featured a Perkins and also frame and axles built at Wolverhampton.

Stokes was it seems equally wary of Lyons, who was one of the few BMH people to get a seat on the BLMC Board, and he was active in it; if he’d have had his way the Fleetline would have been moved to Brislington rather than Leyland.

Some UK commentators have wondered why the Leyland National was a heavyweight design, able to be readily built with right or left hand driving positions, but if the export dimension is taken into account, it’s clear that it was designed to replace not just the Panther and Swift but also the Olympic. The Leyland agreement with MCW was for 20 years and it commenced in 1948, the sales-driven Leyland management did not seem to notice that (progressively) fewer export territories would accept complete export buses, and the few Nationals exported to Australia were CKD. Selling the National rather than the Cyldesdale, Victory J or Worldmaster to Carribean and South American markets was a sure way to guarantee no repeat orders. (Doug Jack says in ‘Beyond Reality’ some of Barbados’ National superstructures were later mated to Clydesdale chassis.) That St Etienne municipal purchased Nationals is really a comment on Saviem and Berliet’s attitudes at the time, LMC-owned Brossel had previously sold Panther derived underframes with Jonckheere bodies into a number of French local council fleets. However only the massive central government weight that FIAT was able to throw stopped Genoa from ordering 300 Nationals.

It’s also quite shocking that BLMC management had not realised that MCW would not introduce a competing vehicle to the National, perhaps, as BLMC thought that they had all the heavy PSV builders in the UK under their control and as MCW were ‘only a coach builder’ then MCW could be disregarded.

MCW, backed by their parent, the shipbuilding and railway-vehicle builders Laird Group, easily found a new chassis partner in Scania after approaches to Bedford and Ford had proved unsuccessful. Correspondence in Classic Bus suggests the Metro-Bedford was to have used KM units; thus a vertical rear mounted 466 engine and an Allison Gearbox, one imagines D1000-type units in the Metro-Ford, maybe with a rear-mounted, (Ford-badged) Perkins V8, notably not only the Roadliner SRP8 had this unit, so did some Seddon Pennine 5 (including the sole UK Example, a 10m Van Hool coach) and the Australian-market Leyland Mastiff MS1600RE PSV; also Berliet used the Perkins unit with a ‘Wilson’ transmission in their PR100 integral city bus.

The Metro-Scania was developed much quicker than the Leyland National and both were exhibited at the 1970 Earls’ Court show (Rather overshadowing Seddon’s Pennine RU). As things turned out the Metro-Scania had non-UK sales of zero and the 1974-77 double deck development, the Metropolitan, sold one outside the UK. As for both MCW and Leyland concentrating on single-decks, that was the way the market seemed to be going in the late 1960s despite UK legalisation of double-deck driver-operation in 1966 and not only Ford and Bedford (with MCW) investigated the market, the reason Frank Ford left Plaxton and was free to lead a takeover bid for Duple was that his plan for Plaxton to assemble Flxible city buses at Scarborough had collapsed.

Jim McElvie, an Aryshire Haulier, wanted to sell Leyland products but was told the franchise in his part of Scotland was taken, he then took up a UK-wide Volvo franchise, which he called Ailsa Trucks, soon his operation engineered a rigid-eight tipper variant of the F86 for the UK. In early 1972 Roderick McKenzie, the engineeering director of Scottish Bus Group approached him for an alternative to the Fleetline, this emerged at the 1973 Glasgow show as the Ailsa B55. By that time AB Volvo held 75% of the shares in Ailsa Bus and Ailsa Trucks. By 1975 they had full ownership and later renamed the companies Volvo Bus GB and Volvo Truck GB.

William Lyons had done very well by buying Daimler in 1960 and Guy in 1962, By 1964 the Fleetline was outselling the Atlantean and by 1969 the Guy Big J was competitive with heavier LMC trucks.
However BLMC not only had too many plants, building too many internally-competitive models and what was worse any money earned by the Truck & Bus Division was swallowed by the money-pit of the BMC car business, neither was Triumph a harmonious susidiary and Rover had its share of build-quality issues; not to mention early Jaguar XJ6s which, as Douglas Adams put it, were cars that needed repair even more often than they needed to be refilled with petrol.

I still think the share-exchange that Henry Spurrier offered ACV (the ACV shares were trading around 15 shillings and Leyland’s at over two pounds) was the beginning of the end for Leyland. BLMC was the middle of the end and the Ryder Report gave the fatal wound, the coup de grace being the sell off to DAF (the trucks) and Iain MckKinnon (the buses) It’s a shame that Leyland no longer exists but the Leyland Assembly Plant of 1980 produces not only much of PACCAR’s EU output of DAF-badged lorries, but also many Isuzu and Mitsubishi, meanwhile Albion, now also under US ownership, are major component suppliers for buses, cars and lorries from their Scotstoun and Leyland factories. The other survivor from British Leyland is Unipart.

Best wishes

Stephen Allcroft
Cardross
Scotland


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 11, 2014 2:39 pm 
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That's all fascinating Stephen. You seem to have considerable knowledge of what took place.


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 08, 2015 1:42 am 
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Location: Mount Maunganui, New Zealand
Hello Stephen:

That is an excellent analysis, and I think that your conclusions are right.

One might say that Leyland had done a generally good job of integrating and rationalizing the Leyland and Albion medium-weight ranges in 1958-59 but was unlikely to have been able to repeat the performance with the AEC range, even had it had the inclination so to do when going in, so as to speak. Even if it had been able to complete a rationalization and integration exercise, it might have tilted the balance somewhat in favour of survival, but not decisively so.

Before the AEC acquisition, the signs of trouble were there, both internal and external.

Internally, Leyland had performed poorly on some of its major projects in the 1950s.

The obvious example was the Atlantean bus chassis. Leyland took an inordinate time to get this right, yet it should have been a relatively simple job, as it did not break any new ground. The transverse vertical rear-engined layout with angle drive had been worked out in the USA in the 1930s, and had been successful – in urban bus service - with relatively high-heat rejection engines (and since the 1940s with torque converter transmissions) operating in conditions that could be much hotter (and for that matter much colder) than were experienced in the UK. I suspect that there was an element of “NIH” at work in not making the most of the American learnings. From this distance in time, one may also see that the resources that were poured into a product that was essentially for the domestic market only and had only passing relevance to the worldwide market were misdirected. If this seems a little extreme, then bear in mind that the major heavy truck and bus makers today are all global players, and so all along that was the real target. Having climbed up on to a high plateau with the essentially export-oriented Worldmaster, Leyland surely would have done better to direct resources into continuous improvement of that line, so that, for example, by the late 1960s, it could have had products that would easily have competed with the Mercedes Benz O.305 and Volvo B58.

Another major example of was the O.900 engine, which was never fully developed. From one viewpoint this might have been seen as not such a deleterious event, as this engine was not intended to be a mainstream unit. On the other hand, diesel engines were core business for Leyland, and if it could not get this part right, then the portents were not good. And it might be borne in mind that a fully developed O.900, with a shorter stroke (say 6 inches instead of 6½ inches) and running at 2100 rev/min, would have equipped Leyland with an engine that could have matched, at least in a proximate sense, the Cummins NH series, which spanned a displacement range up to 855 in3. The O-680 was really not quite big enough, and as far as I know did not have much “stretch” left in it.

Lack of fundamental development of the Wilson gearbox was another 1950s omission. By the late 1960s Voith, ZF and Renk were all offering better products. In this case, whilst Leyland might have invested in SCG to keep it competitive in a global sense, it likely could have done better to exit that business and work with the specialist suppliers such as Voith. Even Mercedes Benz, which at one time manufactured its own-design bus automatic transmissions, capitulated on that front.

Externally, the structural and customary factors were against any British heavy-vehicle manufacturer in the post-WWII era. Even though realization took a couple of decades give or take, it was a new world in which there would be free and competitive markets rather than the captive markets of the past. As has often been said, a successful export business is built on a healthy home market. But this holds only as long as the export and domestic market product ranges are sufficiently similar that there can be real economies of scale. But in the UK the domestic market heavy vehicle requirements differed markedly from those in most overseas markets. In part this was due to the rather restrictive (from an overseas viewpoint) UK dimensions and weights regulations that appear to have been written without any regard for the export effort. And in part it was due to regressive (when viewed from an overseas perspective) domestic customer preferences. It is a sweeping generalization, but one might say that the UK customers preferred underpowered, underbraked vehicles with fairly rudimentary cab accommodation. They preferred vacuum brakes over air brakes, and were averse to multispeed transmissions. The overseas markets wanted air brakes and multispeed transmissions. For urban buses, UK customers preferred the antiquated, front vertical-engined layout, further compromised by very forward front axle locations, whereas overseas customers wanted modern transit type chassis with underfloor engines. In the late 1940s, the UK makers delayed development of the latter type in favour of the former; they were fortunate that their overseas customers were patient, and thus they benefitted from a pent-up demand.

So the design of export models was to a greater or lesser extent compromised by the different domestic market needs, in order obtain some production commonality. Examples of this may be found with the 1958-59 Leyland-Albion medium-weight range, the 1960 Leyland heavy-duty truck range, and even with the Worldmaster, amongst others. This was not a good platform for future success in an increasingly competitive world.

Even when the UK regulations were relaxed, the devil was still in the detail. At last in 1961, 36 ft long buses were allowed. But the details excluded the possibility of using existing 36 ft export chassis, such as the Worldmaster ERT2 and Regal VI. Rather, special models had to be developed and produced for the UK market, such as the Leopard PSU3. And then of course there was the rather silly case where CIE was denied permission to operate its 36 ft Worldmasters in Northern Ireland, and instead had to buy a fleet of Leopards. Another silly situation arising from the 1964 regulatory changes was the virtual impossibility of operating 4-axle articulated vehicles at 32 tons gcw, even though that was allowed in theory. Thus scarce resources were directed to finding 5-axle, 32 tons gcw solutions just for the UK market, including light 6x4 tractive units (e.g. the Leyland Low Weight Hippo 20LHT), three-axle semitrailers (e.g. the York Triaxle) and twin-steer 6x2 tractive units (e.g. the AEC Mammoth Minor and Leyland Steer).

So one might say that Leyland already had enough problems and obstacles in its pathway without the “own goals” of failure to integrate AEC, the fixed-head engine and the National, and later the huge penalty that was BLMC. The V8 engine was questionable, but understandable in the context of the time. Cummins of course made its own vee-engine mess with its VAL/VALE and VIM/VINE engines, but during all of this it did not neglect development of its “bread-and-butter” NH-series in-line six-cylinder engines.

Lack of critical mass may have been a significant factor by the end of the 1950s. The rather hurried catch-up program that produced the 1960 LAD-cabbed heavy-duty truck range was perhaps indicative. For example there was still some work to do on the Power-Plus O.680 engine. If lack of critical mass was a problem, then the AEC acquisition might have helped, but then only if a vigorous and rigorous model rationalization program had been pursued so the potential economies of scale were in fact realized.

AEC seemed to have become moribund by 1962. Its engines, particularly the A410/470, were sub-standard and needed quite a bit of remedial work under LMC. It had two new gearboxes, but these were very ordinary 5/6-speed units, arguably not quite up to current LMC standards, that broke no new ground at a time when multispeed units were becoming the norm in export markets. On the bus front its Regal VI of 1960 was a belated answer, or perhaps partial answer to the Leyland Worldmaster of 1954. Perhaps the microcosm therein represents the macrocosm, and explains why Leyland eventually acquired AEC. In the world market, the somewhat-underpowered-but-robust Leyland Royal Tiger significantly outsold the seriously underpowered and undercooled AEC Regal IV. Leyland quickly capitalized on this with its upgrade to the Worldmaster, but AEC waited six years and then could offer only a “me too” effort. Of course, probably quite significant AEC resources were devoted to the London RM bus, basically a 1920s layout with a few modern frills added, some to compensate for its underlying antiquity. (E.g. its IFS was not a simple gain, as in part at least it countered the debit that arose from the far-forward front axle location, which compromised conventional front suspension by requiring overly short springs.) But the RM was of no relevance to the export market and of little to the domestic market outside of London. In fact why London, with its relatively mild operating conditions, required special vehicles is hard to fathom. For example, as an indication as to how easy the London conditions were, LT was evidently quite happy with its AEC Regal IV (RF class) fleet, whereas this same model was found to be all but useless in Auckland, New Zealand.

So what AEC would have brought to the party for an LMC that had serious rationalization in mind was extra production capacity, an existing market, and the basis for an intermediate-sized engine with an accompanying gearbox, thus infilling a gap in the Leyland range. But that was not to be. AEC appears to have been the main benefactor of the 1964 model upgrade spend that saw extensively renewed Mandator/Mammoth Major and Monarch/Marshal lines, with virtually new engines. One supposes that an independent AEC in its 1962 condition could not have financed these or similar developments. Thus LMC money must have been diverted from worthier causes (when looked at from the road to becoming a major global player) to support the notion of a quasi-independent AEC.

Of course the other answer that was given to that erstwhile tourist in Ireland was that “I can see where you need to go to, but I cannot see how to get there from here.”

Both answers, I think, would have been appropriate if the starting point were the UK heavy commercial vehicle industry in 1945, and the destination were a globally competitive producer today.

But the heavy commercial vehicle industry was not alone. For example domestic policies that were seriously antagonistic to the export effort adversely affected the railway locomotive building industry. Only English Electric achieved, for a while, moderate success in the modern traction field, and that was done essentially in spite of domestic policies. That part of its business was not probably going to survive anyway, but the end seemed to have come prematurely under Weinstock’s GEC rationalization, not because of the rationalization itself, but more because the wrong faction (AEI) gained the upper hand in that part of the business.

Cheers,


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PostPosted: Thu Jan 15, 2015 4:26 pm 
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Dear 9711T,

You are right in a lot of what you say in response to my essay, however, what I need to do is take the time to read it at home once I have downloaded it and then formulate a detailed response.

I can however agree with you that English Electric were the only UK builder of Diesel-Electric locos to generate a respectable export business, even selling to Western European railways, wheras the rest sold to former Imperial customers, but in many ways they did this despite domestic requirements and you are not the only one to think that BR resented them for it. Of course Metrovick had an early conquest sale to Ireland, intended to replace all of the Republic’s main line steam locos in one go, which was so bad in terms of the Crossley engines that by 1960 GM got an inextricable hold on the hearts and minds of CIÉ this leading to horizontal 6L-71 engines in Leyland Leopards, 6V-71s in Atlanteans and the entire Bombardier – GAC embroglio. A few years after that CIÉ became one of the world’s largest Olympian customers, a major purchaser of Tigers and the largest second-hand operator of Lynxes.

Notably also CIÉ had most of the former Singapore bus Services fleet of NZMB bodied Volvo B57s.

What has struck me is how standardised the EE loco family was: to the extent that a preservation group in Lancashire who obtained the last ‘Baby Deltic’ power-unit and generator are in the middle of rebuilding a loco around it using bits from class 37s and class 20s.

Of course English Electric were also one of the few British manufacturers to sell respectable numbers of export Jet aircraft, notably the Canberra and the Lightning. At the time of writing this NASA still fly two (license-built) Canberras on a routine basis, not bad for a design that first flew in 1949!

You are quite right that UK domestic requirements became increasingly divergent from world ones during the post-war years, but every market had its own quirks, notably New Zealand had very restrictive axle- weight limits and a very late operator preference for gasoline engines in large commercial and passenger vehicles.

Also if I remember rightly Queensland allowed an 8’ 6” maximum width for buses whilst the rest of Australia used 8’ 2 ½’
Still it was a rather marketing –department-led idiocy to claim that the Leyland National met all the world’s requirements, when, in the Netherlands, potentially a major market, neither did the 11.3 metre version meet the swept-turning circle regulation (missing it by 5mm on rear ‘kick-out’ according to Doug Jack who was there at the time) but the roof -hatch requirement had to be expensively cut into the few sold to NZH.

Stokes was the wrong man in the wrong place at the wrong time but he was only found out after BLMC happened.
My sister-in-law gave me for Christmas a book of calamitous gaffes*, in there are the general whose last words were ‘they could not hit an elephant at this dist…’ and Bill Gates saying that nobody would ever need more than 640K of memory in a computer, however Lord Stokes (as he was by then) is quoted in 1974 saying “we (BLMC) are not bust, this is merely a cyclical decline.”

Of course it was Sir Henry Spurrier III who ordered the share-exchange, because Chrysler Corporation had enquired after acquiring a shareholding in Leyland.

Had Markland been in Stokes’ place would things have been different?

I don’t think so, not after the share-exchange.

Markland achieved the rationalised Leyland Albion range and is credited by car enthusiasts as ‘saving Standard-Triumph,’ and he had many other feathers in his cap during his career at Leyland including an MBE in 1945 for his work on tank production.

However Markland was abrasive (see earlier posts re: Albion) and perhaps that’s why Spurrier began to prefer Stokes.

Sweden certainly did not have as restrictive a set of C&U rules as the UK, or indeed much of mainland Europe in terms of weights, lengths and what have you, for instance the three-axle 15 metre-long rigid coach which has recently been accepted in the UK and the EU was a Swedish production of the 1970s. However Sweden from the 1960’s by Government regulation led their manufacturers into a virtuous circle with regards to emissions of noise and fumes; home market compliance led to a unique sales point used to conquest-sell, notably to the UK. Scania and Volvo demonstrators from the 1970s to the 1990s are often pictured making a point about their quietness and/or the lack of nasties coming from the tailpipe.

*Did I Really Say That? Museum Publishing, 2014

More Later

Stephen Allcroft
Cardross
Scotland


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:39 pm 
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“Hello Stephen:

That is an excellent analysis, and I think that your conclusions are right.”


I must feel flattered here, but it is a sad story and in some ways it seems to have had the inevitability of Classical Greek tragedy. And like a Greek tragedy the participants could not see the path to doom opening up in front of them. It all seems rather like a line Peter Hammill of prog-rockers Van der Graaf Generator attributed to Albert Einstein:

‘Every step appears to be the unavoidable consequence of the preceding one; but in the end there beckons, more and more clearly, total annihilation.’

“One might say that Leyland had done a generally good job of integrating and rationalizing the Leyland and Albion medium-weight ranges by 1958-59 but was unlikely to have been able to repeat the performance with the AEC range, even had it had the inclination so to do when going in, so as to speak. Even if it had been able to complete a rationalization and integration exercise, it might have tilted the balance somewhat in favour of survival, but not decisively so.”


Leyland were perhaps rather over-confident vis-à-vis Sterling-Zone rivals by 1960, not only had AEC closed Crossley and demoted Maudslay to an axle plant, they and their coachbuilding subsidiary Park Royal had been given exclusivity by the London Transport Board on the Routemaster, which perhaps was a poisoned chalice. The bulk of the rest of AEC’s production was already skewed to other government contracts, and for that matter Park Royal who provided coachbuilt cabs on the AEC Haulage range.

Notably Weymann / Leyland RML3 (later RM3) and Eastern Coach Works / Leyland CRL4 (later RMC4) had entirely Leyland-built mechanical units; not just Leyland engines as some LT commentators claim. Around 700 production Routemasters for London and all 51 sold outside the LT aegis (to Northern General Transport of Gateshead) had Leyland O:600 engines as new however. It is noteworthy that only one RM prototype served a full service life and it was the one with Leyland units and an Eastern Coach Works integral structure.

Not only that but by 1960 Leyland had bought 15% of their most proximate rivals Atkinson and had taken, if Commercial Motor is to be believed, “a large holding” in Foden. There was no need to go gunning for ACV, it was nearly as state dependent as nationalised Bristol/ECW were.

“Before the AEC acquisition, the signs of trouble were there, both internal and external.”

Notably acquiring Standard-Triumph International, a basket case sold to Leyland by a confident merchant, or do I mean a confidence man? Alick Dick is one of the great pup-sellers in British industrial history. I think only Harold Wilson and George Harriman beat him to the prize as the greatest. But why did Spurrier not perform, in relation to STI, what we now know as due diligence?

Acquiring an STI can be debilitating and reduce life expectancy.

It was both for Leyland, leading to a little good, if ‘the saving of Triumph’ was a good thing, but a lot of bad too in the amount of management time, especially Stanley Markland’s time, doing that took and it also had the bad side-effect of Leyland entering the light commercial market, with the Leyland 15 and 20 (rebadged Standard Atlas Major) and the weird Canley-built Leyland 90 with its scale model LAD cab. To say that these models were only slightly worse than the competition does not emphasise how bad the BMH, Ford, Bedford and Rootes light commercials of the time were. When BLMC Happened these two were the first models from the LMC side to be dropped. Although the tooling for the 20 went to India nobody wanted the 90.

“Internally, Leyland had performed poorly on some of its major projects in the 1950s.”

Even worse, for all its vaunting of ‘human factors’ in the 1970s, Leyland were often very uncompromising on the human level in the 1950s, in areas as various as the lock-out and subsequent dismissal of the Farington coachworks staff in 1954 which brought an end to Leyland bus and coach bodies, to the events that led Hugh Fulton to resign as MD of Albion Motors and a director of the parent board in 1957 at the age of 51, had he been retained in Albion and Leyland maybe he’d have restrained Spurrier from the big errors like the purchase of STI and the share exchange with ACV. Had he been there after Spurrier’s resignation and shortly later demise he’d have been a time served engineer as a counterpart to salesman Donald Stokes and being younger would not have had the problem of serving under Stokes.

“The obvious example was the Atlantean bus chassis. Leyland took an inordinate time to get this right, yet it should have been a relatively simple job, as it did not break any new ground. The transverse vertical rear-engined layout with angle drive had been worked out in the USA in the 1930s, and had been successful – in urban bus service - with relatively high-heat rejection engines (and since the 1940s with torque converter transmissions) operating in conditions that could be much hotter (and for that matter much colder) than were experienced in the UK. I suspect that there was an element of “NIH” at work in not making the most of the American learnings.”


I think there are a number of factors here. For brevity I think we should neglect some including petrol engines, constant mesh gearboxes and their performance in a Z-drive layout , also we’ll neglect the Detroit uniflow two-stroke engine, which arrived late in the run of the ‘Queen Mary’ double-decks. Fuel-efficiency (and its relative importance in differing markets) I shall return to as a complete topic in its own right.

So of the factors I think should be aired first GM bought the Dwight Austin patents on the Z-drive in 1931 and although they only applied in the US, I’m sure Alfred Sloan would have defended GM’s intellectual property rights strongly had Leyland threatened anything like the Yellow Coach/GM 7xx series for sale in North America.

Secondly the 1936 Leyland transverse-rear engined single-deck prototype was not street legal.

BMMO (Midland Red) produced four transverse rear-engined single deckers in 1934-6, operating them in limited revenue service, but they were all converted to mid-underfloor engine by 1944.

Thirdly Leyland by quarter three 1941 cleared its entire factory floor of all-but-military work, basically a massively large number of tanks, and units for even more. It was only early 1946 that the Interim Beaver and the PD1/PS1 were on stream, still an heroically quick conversion but nothing radical in design could be countenanced then as the need was for conventional buses and wagons to replace the backlog caused by war.

The UFE chassis was wanted by 1948, and that is when Leyland started to sell the O:600H engine, initially to a Norwegian customer who assembled it into their own integral buses. By this time one of Leyland’s major clients, Ribble Motor Services of Preston, Lancashire, were getting mightily annoyed that Leyland were not building UFE single decks for the home market. (after all the London Leyland Tiger FEC’s were nearly a decade old.) Midland Red had by then 350 UFE single decks in service or on order, all built by themselves. Ribble thus ordered buses from the only open-market supplier of UFE buses at the time, Sentinel of Shrewsbury, and when they arrived, allocated them to a route that ran past the Leyland factory gates. Hence the Royal Tiger and the Olympic were very much priority projects in Leyland during 1948/9.

When Leyland in the early 1950s started to look at the transverse rear engined approach again, it was initially to get around the patents Bristol and ECW had in the Lodekka. As a result the 1953 and 1954 PDR1 prototypes STF90 and XTC684 were low height, had extreme front axles, and rear entrances, the engines were turbocharged O:350 units mounted to the offside to give enough space for the cutaway rear entrance favoured (and mandated by C&U rules for rear-open-platform buses) at the time. STF90 (scrapped 1963) had a full-front on its Saunders-Roe body, XTC684 (now awaiting restoration in Manchester) has a half cab body by Metro-Cammell (who at the time were jointly selling coachwork to common structures with Weymann as MCW) this has the fuel tank and battery box where the engine would be on a Titan). STF90 had an RTL-style air-operated Preselector gearbox whilst XTC has an air-shift Pneumocyclic.

In 1956 in a further incremental relaxation of the length rules for PSVs, the UK government allowed 30 foot double deckers. Thus Dr Engineer Muller (ex-Messerschmitt) got his third and final go at the PDR1, this produced 281ATC and its unregistered counterpart.This time the front-entrance layout as on the 1935-40 GM double deckers was employed so the O:600 and electric-shift pneumocyclic would fit at the back .

Like the first two PDR1 prototypes however 281ATC and its twin had a platform underframe designed to be tied into the (MCW) coachwork. SARO’s Anglesey coachworks had by then been closed by their parent board on the Isle of Wight. Like STF and XTC these first two Atlanteans had double-wishbone and torsion bar front independent suspension and a drop centre rear axle, MCW took caution to an extreme with the bodywork, using very small windows and numerous internal bulkheads. The late

When shown at the 1956 Earl’s Court Commercial Motor Show 281ATC was the star but operator feedback was that they wanted the front entrance and the 78 seat capacity within the 14-ton GVW but not as high a price nor the tie to one coachbuilder; another feature the customers declined was ’The anti-pollution roof-top exhaust pipe.’
A team without Dr Muller, who returned to West Germany, redesigned the Atlantean in two years as the PDR1/1 ladder frame straight axled chassis that entered service in Wallesey and Glasgow in December 1958. The Wallesey bus has an Metro-Cammell body, the Glasgow one Alexander, but I’ve discovered recently, Alexander on a Metro-Cammell frame as Alexander were in the middle of a Factory move in mid-1958 and did not draw up their own frame for the Atlantean until the following year. It was 1960 before (ACV subsidiary) Roe added a third option.

“From this distance in time, one may also see that the resources that were poured into a product that was essentially for the domestic market only and had only passing relevance to the worldwide market were misdirected. If this seems a little extreme, then bear in mind that the major heavy truck and bus makers today are all global players, and so all along that was the real target. Having climbed up on to a high plateau with the essentially export-oriented Worldmaster, Leyland surely would have done better to direct resources into continuous improvement of that line, so that, for example, by the late 1960s, it could have had products that would easily have competed with the Mercedes Benz O.305 and Volvo B58.”

There were attempts to amortise all the Atlantean development work into other vehicles for other markets, basically those that broke cover were the PSR1 Lion, which combined a Worldmaster-style chassis with an Atlantean ‘Power-Pack’. Less than a hundred sold from 1960-67 to an interesting spread of countries incuding Australia and Iran, Israel and New Zealand; the Thompson Brothers Autotanker/Leyland Dromedary was an aluminium integral 8x2 tanker not only featuring an Atlantean power pack at the rear but a cab with front-face entry. Several thousand of these sold, as a Lesney Matchbox toy! BP took the only full-size one and used it for publicity and marketing rather than delivering fuel; then there was the Leyland-MCW Olympic X of 1965 which was a transit bus designed around Canadian requirements.
Atlanteans of early PDR1/1 marque had a lot of problems, some design faults, some due to production quality failings, others caused by operator errors and/or driver abuse. A big design weakness on the early examples was the centrifugal clutch employed instead of a fluid coupling which not only gave rough take-off but also overstressed the transmission.

Thus the PDR1/1 mark II from 1962 had a fluid or fluid-friction clutch and a revised cooling system and engine bonnet, this was the version taken in big numbers in Glasgow Liverpool and Newcastle. By 1962 however the Fleetline was in production, allowing a genuine lowheight layout on a rear engined bus, immediately attracting the attention of the British Electric Traction group.

This led Leyland into the diversion of the lowheight Atlantean, which like the Lowlander and the Panther Cub was with hindsight a waste of resources although less of one than either of those, and a way of offering an ‘us-too’ product to Leyland fleets thinking of switching to the Fleetline although the majority of sales were to fleets who also took Fleetlines, with Nottingham and Manchester being large buyers, along with a number of BET subsidiaries, mainly in the Pennines. Arguably had it not been built then Nottingham and Manchester would not have bought Leylands at the time. For space reasons I will not include the Coventry Corporation drama here. Although it is a great story.

The PDR1 was by no means an exclusively UK-Market bus. Other territories taking the PDR1 or LPDR1 (which often had a front radiator and was built at up to 11m long) included Australia, Eire, Portugal, Sweden and South Africa. In comparison Büssing only exported double deckers to Sweden and Daimler only to Kowloon Portugal and South Africa prior to BLMC. The two other West German double deck manufacturers (Auwärter and MAN-Waggon Union) did not export, Guy only sold double decks to South Africa, Kenya and Hong Kong whilst Bristol (only being able to export from 1965 due to a Leyland minority stake nullifying ill-conceived UK legislation banning them from open markets in 1948) only sold double deckers to South Africa, although one fire-salvaged 1970 VRT chassis was bodied in 1972 as a single deck bus in Australia.
Moreover when it came on stream in 1972 the AN68 with its charged-coupling replacing the previous bellows-joint at the fluid flywheel was a vastly improved machine in reliability and sold the lion’s share of the Atlantean total of over 14 000 to 1986, not just to the UK but Ecuador, Eire, Gibraltar, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, the Phillipines, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the USA, those for Iran and Ecuador being the turbocharged AN69, to give acceptable performance at altitude. Both types found second hand use in Hong Kong. In the early 1990s a number of operators in the UK were having AN68s rebodied as single deck midibuses such was the perceived indestructibility of the AN68.

“Another major example of was the O.900 engine, which was never fully developed. From one viewpoint this might have been seen as not such a deleterious event, as this engine was not intended to be a mainstream unit. On the other hand, diesel engines were core business for Leyland, and if it could not get this part right, then the portents were not good. And it might be borne in mind that a fully developed O.900, with a shorter stroke (say 6 inches instead of 6½ inches) and running at 2100 rev/min, would have equipped Leyland with an engine that could have matched, at least in a proximate sense, the Cummins NH series, which spanned a displacement range up to 855 in3. The O-680 was really not quite big enough, and as far as I know did not have much “stretch” left in it.”


Non-mainstream is one way of putting it, certainly for the home market in haulage or PSV applications. However, there was a market demand both for Leyland Group export markets and at home, where the O.900 (or more exactly the Albion EN901H) was most common in BUT/British Rail cross-country Deisel Multiple Units. There were other home market applications where such a power unit was in demand and the most important of these were for construction equipment; this was not a market Leyland had to themselves however and it was this market which inspired Cummins’ move to produce in the UK, initially at Shotts in Lanarkshire; as I understand it Cummins moved into the UK before any other ‘foreign’ country...

Rolls-Royce were also, having moved their deisel engine division into the former Sentinel works at Shrewsbury, selling well in the construction market with the C-Series, being a modular aluminium-block engine designed for turbocharging and being so fitted as standard, it was a more advanced concept than either Cummins, Leyland-Albion or AEC, whose AV1100 was still listed as OEM product for third party suppliers by BLMC in 1968.

Part of the marketing philosophy behind Scammell, the only Leyland Motors subsidiary to have a home market lorry capable of accomodating the EN901, was to build to customer specification, including the options of proprietary engines and transmissions. As a result the majority of Constructors sold to the UK heavy haulage market (which was booming with the construction boom) were fitted with the Rolls-Royce C-series or the Cummins, whilst the Contractor had the Cummins NTC as standard equipment with the R-R Eagle and Detroit 8V-71 as options. The EN901 was an engine that sold respectably, in comparison to similar engines from other European makers in the same class such as Büssing and Henschel.

During the development of the EN901, Albion were allowed to buy a similarly-sized Büssing straight-6 engine. They had of course even earlier built a 14-litre flat-12 for the EN1200-powered KD23 Lorry and South African Railways had ran it satisfactorily until a flash flood wrecked the engine . But again another story.
As far as stretch in the 680 goes. It depends what you mean. Doctor Fogg was so confident in the triumvarate of the fixed-head engine, the AEC V8 and the 2S-350 gas turbine that he did not only licence production of the O:680 (and the O:400) to DAF but gave them the rights to independently develop them: that is develop them without reference back to Leyland or sharing in the technology, that’s the sort of laxness that would not have happened with Markland, Murray or even more pertinently Lord Ashfield.

The people at Eindhoven only ever increased swept volume by 500cc from 11.1 to 11.6 litres, but the maximum power output of the final intercooled haulage-rated LC1160 unit was 350bhp, this was achieved by 1989, by which time 350bhp was also the standard output of Cummins E14, the contemporary development of the NH. The last version of the DHU, DAF’s development of the 400 put out 230bhp from the same 6.5 litres as the 400.

Lack of fundamental development of the Wilson gearbox was another 1950s omission. By the late 1960s Voith, ZF and Renk were all offering better products. In this case, whilst Leyland might have invested in SCG to keep it competitive in a global sense, it likely could have done better to exit that business and work with the specialist suppliers such as Voith. Even Mercedes Benz, which at one time manufactured its own-design bus automatic transmissions, capitulated on that front.


Here’s an interesting topic, rather than ‘not invented here’, Leyland could rightly claim to be the pioneer of torque-converter transmission for buses and to have sold thousands before spring 1939 when, an issue of Classic Bus attests, the board agreed to remove it from sale as all demand for it had disappeared.
These days it is hard to recall that the preselective, multi-ratio epicyclic gearbox, such as Wilson or Cotal invented (which had a predecessor in the Sturmey-Archer bicycle hub-gear) was something quite different from the torque-converter transmission that Leyland, General Motors and Brockhouse all developed to varying degrees of success in the 1930s and 1940s, the confusion arises because of events in 1929/30.

Walter Wilson and John Siddeley had established what became Self Changing Gears developing epicyclic transmissions for motor vehicles, meanwhile Lawerence Pomeroy of the Daimler Company had acquired for his employers the automotive design-rights in the Vulcan-Sinclair fluid coupling, a device called by Daimler the fluid flywheel. When the two were combined that produced the preselective transmission which was then patented by Daimler, Pomeroy, Wilson and Siddeley, then used on Daimler, AEC and later some Guy and Leyland buses until the middle 1950s.
The pre-selector normally had four or five forward ratios: the fluid coupling was used to smooth transitions from rest and between ratios, the same was true of its drect-action successors; the Pneumocyclic and its ilk.

In contrast the Leyland Lyshom-Smith ‘gearless’ used the physically-similar torque-converter unit to provide stepless acceleration up to 20mph when the driver would move the lever to select direct drive. The diference between that, the ZF2HP, The GM Hydramatic, The Renk Dormat, the Brockhouse Turbo-Transmitter and numerous others was that they selected direct drive at or around 20 mph without the driver having to do anything.

The big difference and still a unique selling point to this day with the Voith DIWA, is that the torque-converter can also act as a retarder, thus when the driver of a Voith-fitted bus presses the brake pedal the torque-converter is turned into a transmission brake.

Had the Hydracyclic been developed on time (c.1974) then it would have been ahead of the ZF Ecomat 4HP and the Voith D851 in combiing multiple ratios (Torque converter, epicyclic stage(s), and direct drive) under electronic control with a built in retarder, like the ZF the retarder would have used friction surfaces, work with Ferodo on this led to the Avon Maxwell transmission, but that is another digression I must neglect. But note that the ZF transmission on the new Land Rover Discovery Sport has eight forward ratios, six of them epicyclic.

Not only did Daimler-Benz build their own bus automatic transmissions (into the 1970s?) Scania were offering two-ratio torque converter units and eight-ratio computer-controlled constant mesh transmissions of their own make (the latter called Computer Assisted Gearshift) into the 1990s.

Volvo around the same time had their ‘Easy Gear Shift’ (again eight forward) as a standard fitment on the B10M mark III during the time they and Plaxton had a sweetheart deal with National Express, one operator took two of these ‘standard’ coaches for a few months , and crunched the fuel and availability figures, compared them with their standard coach on the same run (ZF Manual Bova Futura running Newcastle upon Tyne to London Victoria) and also compared the fully-auto (ZF) Bova and sent the figures to the UK Office of Fair Trading.

Shortly afterwards Northumbria Motor Services sold their two EGS Volvo Expressliners to Northern and bought two more automatic Futuras. Shortly after that it ceased to be compulsory to operate Volvos on National Express contracts (just ‘recommended’). The Office of Fair Trading did not have to publicly tell National Express off.
The British bus and wagon market are often against technology on a once-bitten, twice shy basis, the air-brake allergy which lasted into the 1960s resulted from early attempts to fit Westinghouse railway-type equipment in the Guy and Karrier three-axle double deckers circa 1926-9, where its on-off nature was allied to vehicles of dubious reliability and mechanical integrity.

Likewise, the idea of a torque-converter and the idea of a fuel-thief became synonymous to the operators of Leyland gearless buses in the 1930s. Northumbria’s problems wth computer-controlled Layshaft gearboxes were not the worst back then and this is why computerised constant-mesh gearboxes such as the ZF Ecolite are not as attractive now on the UK market as the makers think they should be.

I don’t think the Voith, Renk and ZF products were seen by Leyland as competitive to the Pneumocyclic, rather as complimentary. Notably the Panther was designed as an export bus, it was first exhibited in the Netherlands and a ZF 2HP transmission, power steering and all-round air suspension featured on the show prototype for Rotterdam. Glasgow Corporation were the first users of a Voith DIWA unit in the UK, it went into their first Leyland Panther, exhibited in Earl’s Court later that same year. Perhaps though Voith (and MAN) were unfortunate that their UK & Commonwealth licensee at the time was North British Locomotive. There is a picture of Glasgow’s first Panther, on its first day licenced, hooked up behind a Glasgow Corporation Transport AEC Matador recovery lorry.

Fuel consumption was of course the home market bugbear, this and driver abuse (some deliberate) led Scottish Bus Group to take manual gearbox underfloor engined buses (the infamous ’stick Leopards’ and Seddon counterparts) for urban routes into the late 1970s. Most major operators were by this time operating SCG direct selection gearboxes with or without automatic control but the Voith D851 and the ZF Ecomat were what the Hydracyclic should have been in terms of reliability and arrived earlier, it must be said however that in terms of refinement the Hydracyclic was streets ahead of the Voith and to an extent ahead of the ZF. The National followed the Panther with the ZF 2HP as an intitial production option although as far as I can recall the only UK users were Cardiff Corporation. Given mark one Nationals were already thirsty one wonders how they kept these 1974/5 buses in service for a whole day’s work on one tankful.

“Externally, the structural and customary factors were against any British heavy-vehicle manufacturer in the post-WWII era. Even though realization took a couple of decades give or take, it was a new world in which there would be free and competitive markets rather than the captive markets of the past. As has often been said, a successful export business is built on a healthy home market. But this holds only as long as the export and domestic market product ranges are sufficiently similar that there can be real economies of scale. But in the UK the domestic market heavy vehicle requirements differed markedly from those in most overseas markets. In part this was due to the rather restrictive (from an overseas viewpoint) UK dimensions and weights regulations that appear to have been written without any regard for the export effort. And in part it was due to regressive (when viewed from an overseas perspective) domestic customer preferences. It is a sweeping generalization, but one might say that the UK customers preferred underpowered, underbraked vehicles with fairly rudimentary cab accommodation. They preferred vacuum brakes over air brakes, and were averse to multispeed transmissions. The overseas markets wanted air brakes and multispeed transmissions. For urban buses, UK customers preferred the antiquated, front vertical-engined layout, further compromised by very forward front axle locations, whereas overseas customers wanted modern transit type chassis with underfloor engines. In the late 1940s, the UK makers delayed development of the latter type in favour of the former; they were fortunate that their overseas customers were patient, and thus they benefitted from a pent-up demand.”




To rebuild and innovate at the same time is a rare feat, Germany and Japan had had their infrastructure and manufacturing bases utterly detroyed so were forced to re-equip and to adopt radically different economic philosophies; based on trading and manufacturing power rather than military might. On the other hand with the exception of the Daimler Company, no complete UK commercial vehicle plant was destroyed, Leyland had to re-equip because of the way it had been used for the war effort and this was why the post 1946 Leyland range was not a simple continuation in the way their competitor’s ranges were. Demand in the immediate post war period was for the most basic vechiles that could be turned out on the basis that any innovation would add to the time taken to produce the much needed fleet replacements.
Notably in the initial post war phase London Transport took further Daimler CWA6 with relaxed utility bodies, then AEC Regal I and Regent II models and Leyland Titan PD1 and Leyland Tiger PS1, these last four having sliding mesh or constant mesh transmission and thus more akin to the early T ST and LT classes they were to ostensibly replace.
It took an unusual operator to sit back and wait for the sort of bus that they wanted, Blackpool Corporation being one, Ribble likewise taking small numbers of half cab single decks and re-engining pre-war buses until it could get Sentinels and then the UFE Leylands it really wanted. By 1952 only a few hold-outs were purchasing front-engined heavyweight single-deckers, the Bedford SB was another thing entirely.

After 1948 it must be added that the overwhelming majority of British Isles road freight was nationalised as British Road Services. They took initially what was on order and then tried to provide an even baseload for the multiplicity of home market suppliers; although they did task Bristol Commercial Vehicles from 1953-62 with their only purpose built lorries and semitrailers.

As for spartan cab accomodation, low power, low braking power and low overall speed in the haulage market, that would take infrastructural and political changes to sort out. The development of the road network in the UK only really took off in the late 1950s and thus when Albion lent their 8-cylinder 9-litre KP71 coach to Western SMT it had to be taken off London-Glasgow runs, and have top gear made inoperable because the operator was paying too many speeding fines. Albion are lucky that no Police force caught the KD23 6x4 wagon with the 12-cylinder version of the same engine-family when it trunked for the works fleet before its export to South Africa. Perhaps no police car of the time would have been able to catch it! However, even at 1950s speeds and with 1950s single carriageway roads the freight industry within the island of Great Britain did not have continental distances to consider. The nearest continent was effectively out of bounds to lorry operators until roll-on-roll-off-ferries and the TIR convention. Later the European Union and the Channel Tunnel added to the effect, but very few lorry drivers even at 1950’s speeds (and long before driver’s hours rules) would have needed a sleeper cab, there were plenty of cheap boarding houses if lodging was required and as far as power-steering and the like, these were fripperies that wasted money, driving was a man’s job and if you did not have the arm-muscles you were the wrong man for the job. Full employment, get your cards, go to the labour exchange and become a bus conductor. The same was true if you did not fit the(fixed) driver’s seat.

So the design of export models was to a greater or lesser extent compromised by the different domestic market needs, in order obtain some production commonality. Examples of this may be found with the 1958-59 Leyland-Albion medium-weight range, the 1960 Leyland heavy-duty truck range, and even with the Worldmaster, amongst others. This was not a good platform for future success in an increasingly competitive world.

Even when the UK regulations were relaxed, the devil was still in the detail. At last in 1961, 36 ft long buses were allowed. But the details excluded the possibility of using existing 36 ft export chassis, such as the Worldmaster ERT2 and Regal VI. Rather, special models had to be developed and produced for the UK market, such as the Leopard PSU3. And then of course there was the rather silly case where CIE was denied permission to operate its 36 ft Worldmasters in Northern Ireland, and instead had to buy a fleet of Leopards. Another silly situation arising from the 1964 regulatory changes was the virtual impossibility of operating 4-axle articulated vehicles at 32 tons gcw, even though that was allowed in theory. Thus scarce resources were directed to finding 5-axle, 32 tons gcw solutions just for the UK market, including light 6x4 tractive units (e.g. the Leyland Low Weight Hippo 20LHT), three-axle semitrailers (e.g. the York Triaxle) and twin-steer 6x2 tractive units (e.g. the AEC Mammoth Minor and Leyland Steer).


I think the situation with the Ogle-CIE coaches was complicated by the fact that the ones they were going to use in Northern Ireland were to be regstered and taxed by the Ulster Transport Authority as sub-contractor to CIE, so the buses had to meet UK C&U rules. It was possible to operate an ERT2 with a 36 foot body in 1963 and have it comply to UK axle weight rules but you’d have to use a relatively flimsy standard British coachbuilt body like a Plaxton Panorama or a Duple Continental. The Ogle-CIE bodies were steel-framed and steel panelled, high datum and double glazed. None of these were factors which reduced unladen weight. Later both the WT and ET coaches were rebodied by Van Hool, and both visitied Northern Ireland on occasion although by the 1970s it was a less attractive venue to tourists than it had been.
I can just about cope with changes to construction & use rules in the UK with regard to buses and coaches, I must admit having lost track several times with commercials. It’s clear that there was no communication from the Transport Ministers (whichever department they were in, which changed with almost every administration) to manufacturing industry in any sort of a proper timescale to enable them allow for rule changes. Hence the Scammell Townsman, made obsolete a few months after it was announced.

So one might say that Leyland already had enough problems and obstacles in its pathway without the “own goals” of failure to integrate AEC, the fixed-head engine and the National, and later the huge penalty that was BLMC. The V8 engine was questionable, but understandable in the context of the time. Cummins of course made its own vee-engine mess with its VAL/VALE and VIM/VINE engines, but during all of this it did not neglect development of its “bread-and-butter” NH-series in-line six-cylinder engines.

Lack of critical mass may have been a significant factor by the end of the 1950s. The rather hurried catch-up program that produced the 1960 LAD-cabbed heavy-duty truck range was perhaps indicative. For example there was still some work to do on the Power-Plus O.680 engine. If lack of critical mass was a problem, then the AEC acquisition might have helped, but then only if a vigorous and rigorous model rationalization program had been pursued so the potential economies of scale were in fact realized.



I don’t think that anyone in Leyland really had an idea of the way global trading circumstances had changed until the cables came from the Chrysler Building asking if Leyland would care to sell some shares their way... Hard to remember now when the brand is used in the British Isles for Lancias and other non-mainstream Fiat group cars and in the US it is more than half owned by the Union of Auto Workers but in 1960 it was unclear whether Chrysler or Ford were second in the US Big Three.

I can see why Sir Henry Spurrier the Third felt he must circle the wagons and offer the share exchange to ACV. That it happened entirely because of the way he felt about it is because of the corporate governance model we had in the UK then.

There are many interesting counter-factuals to think about: firstly had Spurrier agreed to sell Chrysler the minority stake they were seeking: secondly had he kept a cooler-head and not bid to take over ACV but continued the previous policy of building up shares in other UK-based competitors, as well as the well known blocking stake in Atkinson, Leyland (by 1960 if Commercial Motor is to be believed) had a ‘substantial share’ in Foden. The 1965 purchase of 25% of Bristol and ECW paid for by 30% of Park Royal and Roe, could be seen as a similar move; however it was one that harmed Panther sales, and non-London sales of the Swift whilst strangling the sickly Panther Cub. The Bristol RE was however a poor export seller, and one of the two ‘overseas’ territories it went to was actually part of the UK if over the Irish sea.
Christchurch (NZ) of course was the other customer, and all of theirs had the Leyland 510 engine, was this because of axle weight rules?

AEC seemed to have become moribund by 1962. Its engines, particularly the A410/470, were sub-standard and needed quite a bit of remedial work under LMC. It had two new gearboxes, but these were very ordinary 5/6-speed units, arguably not quite up to current LMC standards, that broke no new ground at a time when multispeed units were becoming the norm in export markets. On the bus front its Regal VI of 1960 was a belated answer, or perhaps partial answer to the Leyland Worldmaster of 1954. Perhaps the microcosm therein represents the macrocosm, and explains why Leyland eventually acquired AEC. In the world market, the somewhat-underpowered-but-robust Leyland Royal Tiger significantly outsold the seriously underpowered and undercooled AEC Regal IV. Leyland quickly capitalized on this with its upgrade to the Worldmaster, but AEC waited six years and then could offer only a “me too” effort. Of course, probably quite significant AEC resources were devoted to the London RM bus, basically a 1920s layout with a few modern frills added, some to compensate for its underlying antiquity. (E.g. its IFS was not a simple gain, as in part at least it countered the debit that arose from the far-forward front axle location, which compromised conventional front suspension by requiring overly short springs.) But the RM was of no relevance to the export market and of little to the domestic market outside of London. In fact why London, with its relatively mild operating conditions, required special vehicles is hard to fathom. For example, as an indication as to how easy the London conditions were, LT was evidently quite happy with its AEC Regal IV (RF class) fleet, whereas this same model was found to be all but useless in Auckland, New Zealand.

AEC to be fair to them, even here, did have a range-change gearbox for LMC by the late 1960s, a development of the constant mesh unit that ACV had bought with Thornycroft, whilst Albion were offering a splitter gearbox by 1966, the same year Leyland launched the splitter version of the Pneumocyclic.
Come 1973 and the launch of the Marathon though, a proprietary box was all that was offered.

To be fair to LT its Regal IVs worked mainly on inner surburban and outer suburban/rural routes with a minority on limited stop services (Green Line)and a much smaller minority on sightseeing work. It was the RT family (including the RTL and RTW) that dealt with the heavy urban routes.

So what AEC would have brought to the party for an LMC that had serious rationalization in mind was extra production capacity, an existing market, and the basis for an intermediate-sized engine with an accompanying gearbox, thus infilling a gap in the Leyland range. But that was not to be. AEC appears to have been the main benefactor of the 1964 model upgrade spend that saw extensively renewed Mandator/Mammoth Major and Monarch/Marshal lines, with virtually new engines. One supposes that an independent AEC in its 1962 condition could not have financed these or similar developments. Thus LMC money must have been diverted from worthier causes (when looked at from the road to becoming a major global player) to support the notion of a quasi-independent AEC.

The problem was that such UK competition regulation as there was at the time strongly favoured the retention of separate home sales apparatus vis-à-vis ACV and Leyland-Albion-Scammell. Political sentiment at the time and particularly from the highly marginal greater London parliamentary seats supported the idea of manufacturing jobs in the Metropolis. Hence of course not only the Routemaster being built in London with mechanical units from Middlesex, but the British Army’s heavy lorries all coming from Southall. AEC were closer to the centres of power than the other commercial vehicle builders and perhaps Sir Henry Spurrier felt that was worth some of the price premium inherent in the share exchange.
London Transport was by 1962 in the hands of the Transport Holding Company, just like the Tilling Group, Bristol Commercial Vehicles, Eastern Coach Works and the Scottish Bus Group, but its overseas consultancy arm invariably recommended AEC/ Park Royal buses to its consultees. If a state funded transport undertaking these days acted as an unpaid export sales force for a publicly quoted commercial vehicle manufacturer I think there might be some outcry.

Of course the other answer that was given to that erstwhile tourist in Ireland was that “I can see where you need to go to, but I cannot see how to get there from here.”

Both answers, I think, would have been appropriate if the starting point were the UK heavy commercial vehicle industry in 1945, and the destination were a globally competitive producer today.

But the heavy commercial vehicle industry was not alone. For example domestic policies that were seriously antagonistic to the export effort adversely affected the railway locomotive building industry. Only English Electric achieved, for a while, moderate success in the modern traction field, and that was done essentially in spite of domestic policies. That part of its business was not probably going to survive anyway, but the end seemed to have come prematurely under Weinstock’s GEC rationalization, not because of the rationalization itself, but more because the wrong faction (AEI) gained the upper hand in that part of the business.


Thanks again
Stephen Allcroft
Cardross
Scotland


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2015 4:50 pm 
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"......Leyland 15 and 20 (rebadged Standard Atlas Major) and the weird Canley-built Leyland 90 with its scale model LAD cab. To say that these models were only slightly worse than the competition does not emphasise how bad the BMH, Ford, Bedford and Rootes light commercials of the time were. When BLMC Happened these two were the first models from the LMC side to be dropped. Although the tooling for the 20 went to India nobody wanted the 90."

Just a quickie here: Looking on the bright side, with half of an LAD cab, a Rootes-Group gearbox and a Morris-Commercial back axle, the 90 can't have needed much tooling to begin with!


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