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|Dennis Dart/Dart SLF|
|Body and chassis|
|Doors||1 or 2 doors|
|Floor type||Step entrance
|Engine||Cummins B Series
8.5m, 9.0m, 9.8m
8.8m, 9.2m, 9.3m, 10.0m, 10.1m, 10.6m, 10.7m, 11.3m
|Width||2.4m or 2.5m|
|Successor||Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart|
The Dennis Dart is a rear-engined single-decker bus chassis that was manufactured by Dennis (later Alexander Dennis) in Guildford, England. More than 11,000 were produced during 18 years of production.
It was launched in 1988 and was originally offered with the Duple Dartline bodywork. It was 2.3m wide and was initially available in the length of 9m, but later available in lengths of 8.5m and 9.8m. It was powered by a Cummins 6BT engine and coupled to the Allison AT545 gearbox (the same engine and gearbox were also used in the MCW Metrorider, latterly the Optare MetroRider).
This model was sold to London Buses and to some operators outside London. Soon after it was launched, Duple was sold to Plaxton and the Blackpool plant closed. Plaxton decided not to acquire the design rights of the Duple Dartline and it was sold to Carlyle Works, who continued producing the bodywork from 1991. Production passed to Marshall of Cambridge in 1992 who bodied five Darts to this design. In 1993, Marshall updated the design to the C36 and later, the C37.
In 1990, Wadham Stringer became the next builder to body the Dart with a body called the Portsdown, but it was sold in small numbers and replaced by the UVG Urbanstar in 1995. In the same year, Wright bodied the Dart with the Handybus. In early 1991, Plaxton launched the Pointer (which was initially designated as Reeve Burgess Pointer as it was built at Reeve Burgess's plant, until later in the same year when it was transferred to Plaxton's Scarborough plant). Later in 1991, East Lancs bodied the Dart with its EL2000. In the latter half of 1991, Alexander launched the Dash. Another contender entering the market at the same time was the Northern Counties Paladin. Initially, it was built with a design of a barrel shaped windscreen with quarterlights (which were mainly sold to Warrington Borough Transport), later models had a deep double-curvature two-piece windscreen. It was phased out when Plaxton bought Northern Counties in 1995.
As the low-floor single-decker buses became more popular in late 1990s, orders for standard-floor Dart dropped heavily and production ceased in 1998, with the final five delivered to Jersey Motor Transport.
Low-floor Dart SLF
It was 2.4m wide and initially offered in lengths of 9.2m, 10m and 10.6m, with air suspension introduced in place of the taper leaf used in the original design. The driveline of the step-entrance Dart was retained, although some early examples were fitted with Eaton manual transmission.
It was initially offered with the low floor version of the Pointer (which was notable for being wider), replaced by the updated Pointer 2 in 1997. It was also offered with a wide variety of bodies, namely the East Lancs Spryte, UVG Urbanstar (later renamed as the Caetano Compass; replaced by the Nimbus in 1999), the Wright Crusader, Alexander ALX200 (discontinued in 2001 with the formation of Transbus International and being replaced by the Pointer 2), Marshall Capital (developed from the C37; later built by MCV), Caetano Nimbus and MCV Evolution (since 2005 - a further evolution of the Marshall bodywork).
In 1997, the Dart SPD (Super Pointer Dart) was launched with the length of 11.3m (about the same length as a long Leyland National). It has a more powerful engine and a more heavy duty Allison World Series B300R gearbox, but also with an option of a Voith gearbox. Originally offered only with Plaxton Pointer 2 bodywork (hence the 'P' in the name) this larger bus was later offered with other bodywork such as East Lancs, the Alexander ALX200 and a few have also been bodied by Marshall. In 1998, it was accompanied by the MPD (Mini Pointer Dart) at 8.8m long, a model reminiscent of the original 8.5m Darts.
With the move to Euro III emissions in October 2001, the new Cummins ISBe engine was launched, with the 4-cylinder 3.9-litre model being used in all lengths except the 11.3m version, which uses the more powerful 6-cylinder, 5.9-litre version. The Cummins ISBe Euro IV engine became available on the Dart SLF chassis since late 2006.
Cardiff Bus for instance was one operator that took order to many of low floor Dennis Darts and a few high-floor examples (Alexander Dash). These were numbered 023-028 (high-floor), then 301-320, 361-399, 144-199, and 211-244. In 2015, S302 SHB was preserved as one of the first low-floor darts preserved and goes to many rallies.
Narrow width Dart SLF
A further variant of the Dart SLF appeared by 2002, when bus operators in the Channel Islands of Guernsey and then Jersey replaced the majority of their fleets with slightly narrower Darts designed to comply with the islands' vehicle size restrictions, sporting adapted versions of existing East Lancs and Caetano bodies respectively. Further examples have since joined them and small numbers of similar buses have entered service with other operators around the UK. Gibraltar also has a fleet of these narrower buses. The last ones entered service in summer 2007, but Alexander Dennis had not produced a direct replacement by September 2008.
Although primarily sold in the United Kingdom, some were sold overseas:
- Australia: ACTION (25), Brisbane Bus Lines (3), Invicta Bus Services (27) and Transperth (2)
- Hong Kong: New World First Bus (36)
- Singapore: Singapore Bus Service (10)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Dennis Dart.|
- DT, DC: The Duple / Carlyle Darts Ian's Bus Stop
- Dennis Dart: the first Generation Ian's Bus Stop
- Dennis Dart SLF Specifications ACT Bus Wiki
- Brisbane Bus Lines Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Invicta Bus Services Australian Bus Fleet Lists
- Dennis Dart SLF Perth Bus Info
- Dennis Dart (Duple Metsec) SGBuses.com