Leyland Leopard

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Leyland Leopard
Barton Leyland Leopard Supreme IV 583, PTV 583X.jpg
Barton Transport Plaxton Supreme IV bodied Leyland Leopard in Long Whatton in 1989
Overview
Manufacturer Leyland
Production 1959-82
Body and chassis
Doors 1-3
Floor type Step entrance
Powertrain
Engine Leyland 0.600
Leyland 0.680
Leyland TL11
Capacity 9.8 litres
11.1 litres
Transmission Leyland manual/pneumocyclic
ZF synchromesh
Chronology
Predecessor Leyland Tiger Cub
Successor Leyland Tiger

The Leyland Leopard was a mid-engined single-deck bus and coach chassis manufactured by Leyland between 1959 and 1982.

History[edit]

Midland Red West Plaxton bodied Leopard in March 1989
Preserved Lancaster City Transport Y type bodied Leopard in Blackpool in August 2001
Citibus New Zealand Motor Bodies bodied Leopard in Dunedin in September 2007

The Leyland Leopard was introduced in 1959.[1][2] It was developed from the Leyland Tiger Cub, one of the most important changes being the introduction of the larger and more powerful 0.600 engine (later-built Leopards were fitted with the 11.1-litre 0.680 engine).[3] The Leopard was superseded by the Leyland Tiger.

Operators[edit]

In England, sizeable Leopard fleets were built up by various National Bus Company subsidiaries including Birmingham & Midland Omnibus Company[4] BET Group subsidiaries were major customers for Leopards. For buses and dual-purpose vehicles, a BET standard design of bodywork was produced, primarily by Marshall and Willowbrook but also to a lesser extent by Weymann and Metro-Cammell. Another major English customer for the Leyland Leopard was Barton Transport of Chilwell near Nottingham, which built up a fleet of 200 with Plaxton Elite and Supreme coach bodywork. Unusually for a large operator, Barton standardised on this type of vehicle for all types of work including local stage carriage services; for this reason, all were fitted with a wide two-piece door, known as an "express" or a "grant" door. The latter term refers to the New Bus Grant, whereby the British Government paid part of the cost of a new bus providing it met certain specifications and spent a prescribed proportion of its time on local service work. Many other operators took advantage of this and bought Leopards built to the grant specification.

In Scotland, many were bought by subsidiaries of the Scottish Bus Group and were mostly bodied by Alexander with the Y type body, as both buses and coaches.[5] The Irish company CIÉ also bought a substantial fleet, mainly with bodywork built in its own workshops, as did its Northern Irish counterpart the UTA and its successor Ulsterbus, which bought the Alexander X type body. The Leopard was extremely common on Northern Irish roads for over 40 years, with the first one arriving in 1968 and the last one in 1984. During this period a total of 1,500 Leopards were built. During the 30 years of The Troubles in Northern Ireland, a total of 228 Leopards were stolen from their depots and maliciously destroyed in public streets. In 2006, all Leopards were withdrawn from public service, with some even clocking up an incredible 28 years of service. In the 1980s, Ulsterbus shortened a few of its Leopards for use as towbuses.

Leyland Leopards also saw use with the British Military, and were exported to many other countries. Although the vast majority were used as buses or coaches, a few were bodied as pantechnicons, and at least one as a car transporter. The Leopard was popular with National Express operators.[6]

Exports[edit]

The Leopard was also popular with Australian operators.[7] The New South Wales Public Transport Commission purchased 745 for use in Sydney and Newcastle between 1967 and 1976 giving it the world's largest Leopard fleet.[8][9]

Long standing Leopards purchasers into the 1980s included North & Western Bus Lines, Punchbowl Bus Company and Ventura Bus Lines.[10][11][12] In the early 1990s, a number of Leopards were rebodied. This was to take advantage of a loophole that allowed rebodied buses in New South Wales to be classified as new buses for fleet average purposes, the loophole was later closed and the practice ceased.

New Zealand operator Wellington Transport Authority ordered 94 Leopards.[13] In 1980, Auckland tour operator Bonnici Coachlines purchased ten 12.5 metre three-axle Leopard coaches.[14][15]

Competitors[edit]

The Leyland Leopard's major direct competitor throughout most of its life was the AEC Reliance, even though AEC was a subsidiary of Leyland for a large proportion of that time. In the 1970s, the Volvo B58 became a serious competitor. There was also some competition for the Leopard from lighter weight chassis such as the Bedford VAL and Y-series.

References[edit]

  1. ^ New Middle-weight Passenger Chassis Commercial Motor 21 August 1959
  2. ^ Over 125 vehicles at Kelvin Hall Commercial Motor 13 November 1959
  3. ^ A Lively Beast Commercial Motor 25 December 1959
  4. ^ £2m Leyland Bus Orders Commercial Motor 9 February 1962
  5. ^ SBG orders 344 new buses Commercial Motor 5 December 1975
  6. ^ Successful launch of M4 express Commercial Motor 14 January 1972
  7. ^ Welcome to the Australian Bus Fleet Lists Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  8. ^ Withdrawn & Disposal Information Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  9. ^ Travers, Greg (1984). UTA Sydney & Newcastle. Beverley: Railmac Publications. p. 4. ISBN 0 949817 28 7. 
  10. ^ North & Western Bus Lines Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  11. ^ Punchbowl Bus Co Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  12. ^ Ventura Bus Lines Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  13. ^ Kiwi order for Leyland Commercial Motor 26 August 1977
  14. ^ Millar, Sean; Lynas, Ian (1983). Leyland Buses in Australia and New Zealand. Auckland: Millars Transport Books. pp. 9–10. 
  15. ^ Leyland Leopard PSU3 Buses and Coaches Omnibus Society of New Zealand

External links[edit]