Leyland Olympian

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Leyland Olympian
Magic Bus bus 3065 (B65 PJA), MMT Deregulation 25 event.jpg
Preserved Magic Bus Northern Counties-bodied Leyland Olympian in October 2011 outside the Museum of Transport, Manchester. It was new in November 1984 to Greater Manchester Transport and withdrawn from traffic in 2005.
Production1980 - 1993
Body and chassis
Doors1, 2 or 3
Floor typeStep entrance
9.56m, 10.25m, and 11m
10.4m, 11m, and 12m
Width2.5 m
Height4.2 m (13 ft 9 in)
4.4 m (14 ft 5 in)
SuccessorVolvo Olympian

The Leyland Olympian was a 2-axle and 3-axle double-decker bus chassis manufactured by Leyland between 1980 and 1993. It was the last Leyland bus model in production.


ChesterBus Northern Counties bodied Olympian in Chester in June 2007
Preserved Midland Red East Lancs bodied Olympian in Llandudno in May 2013
Citybus's Alexander bodied Olympian in Hong Kong in August 2008
Preserved Dublin Bus Alexander bodied Olympian in April 2008
Gray Line Olympian in New York City in May 2008

The Olympian shared the same chassis and running gear as with the Leyland Titan integral double deck bus which was ordered en masse by London Transport. At the time there was a demand for non-integral vehicles, with operators wishing to have the chassis bodied by other manufacturers. Thus Leyland created the B45 project, which was named Olympian, in 1979. This was in many ways an update of the popular Bristol VRT (Bristol Commercial Vehicles merged with Leyland in 1965), with many VR customers choosing Olympians. Later the Olympian also replaced the Leyland Atlantean.

The Olympian was unveiled at the 1980 Commercial Motor Show.[1] It was available in two lengths, 9.56m and 10.25m. Engines were either the Leyland TL11 unit (an 11.1-litre development of the Leyland O.680), or the Gardner 6LXB or 6LXCT. Some later Olympians had Cummins L10 engines; one had a 5LXCT.

For the export market a three-axle version was built with lengths of 10.4m, 11.32m and 11.95m. This was very popular with operators such as Kowloon Motor Bus. In 1988, Leyland developed an air-conditioned version of the Olympian, with the air conditioner driven by the main engine instead of a separate engine.

Between 1979 and 1981, nine demonstrators were built, before the first production Olympian entered service with Ribble Motor Services in August 1981.[2][3]

The Olympian was initially manufactured at the former Bristol factory in Brislington with the first thousand completed here. In 1983, production transferred to Leyland's Farington and Workington plants. The last was completed for Singapore Bus Service in March 1994.[2]


The Leyland Olympian was built with a wide variety of body types:


United Kingdom[edit]

The Leyland Olympian was popular in the United Kingdom, with orders from operators both before and after privatisation. It was purchased by many National Bus Company subsidiaries.

Although London Buses primarily purchased the Leyland Titan, in 1984 it took delivery of three Olympians.[4] Between 1987 and 1992, a further 350 Olympians were purchased. The last were withdrawn in 2005, although some were converted to open top buses and remain in use with The Original Tour.[5][6] London Country purchased 102.[7]

Lothian Buses purchased over 200, but all were removed by 2009.[8]

South Wales Transport ordered 7 of these in 1985 registered C901-C907 FCY. These remained in service with First Cymru until 2005.

The last remaining Leyland Olympians were removed from service in December 2016 as they did not comply with Disabled Access Regulations.[9]


EAS of Athens received 19 Leyland Olympians in 1983, plus the Demo previously trialed in 1982. They were all withdrawn by 1/10/1994. One of them is preserved. [10]

Hong Kong[edit]

Between 1981 and 1993, Kowloon Motor Bus purchased 906 Olympians, with all but four having Alexander bodywork.[11][12] Some were later repatriated to the United Kingdom, including 22 converted to open top configuration by The Big Bus Company.

China Motor Bus purchased 37 Olympians between 1981 and 1993.[13][14] All 35 three-axle Olympians passed to New World First Bus, with the entire batch of ten non-air-conditioned buses being sold to FirstGroup who repatriated them to the United Kingdom for use at their East Counties, Glasgow, Manchester and PMT subsidiaries.

After importing a few second-hand Olympians from the United Kingdom, Citybus purchased 294 new Olympians.[15] In 2003, 54 were repatriated to the United Kingdom to operate express services for Megabus.

All Hong Kong franchised Olympians had been withdrawn by October 2011. The non-franchised, open-topped, air-conditioned double deckers and private hire buses were withdrawn by 2015 due to their non-compliance with Hong Kong's emission regulations. Citybus #391 was the last Leyland Olympian to ever run in Hong Kong.


Dublin Bus purchased 63 Olympians.[16] The total was eventually increased to 175.

North America[edit]

In 1984, an Eastern Coach Works bodied left hand drive Olympian was sent to the United States as a demonstrator. It was used as a shuttle bus at Expo 86 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It then entered service on Gray Line tours in Victoria. It was later sold to Brampton Transit.

Grosvenor Coach Lines (Gray Line) of San Francisco received 10 Eastern Coach Works bodied three-axle Leyland Olympians in 1986 for sightseeing purposes.[17][18] Seven were later transferred to New York City and the other three to Seattle. After a period in store, the three Seattle units were repoweed with Detroit Diesel engines in Los Angeles and returned to Gray Line duties in San Francisco in 2015.[19]


Singapore Bus Services (SBS) would in 1981 take in a single Leyland Olympian B45 that was built specifically for demonstration purposes in Singapore. The bus was previously displayed at the 1980 Commercial Motor Show in the UK and was described as a "Far Eastern" prototype. It also had a 3+2 transverse seating arrangement unseen in Singapore but common in Hong Kong then with a seating capacity of 97 but was eventually refitted to the standard 2+2 transverse seating arrangement before export to Singapore. Registered in Singapore as SBS5396B, it bore a unique demonstration livery with the company's 1978 corporate logo not unlike a Leyland Leopard demonstrator also with SBS then and was allocated to Ang Mo Kio bus depot where it ran on bus route 162 until its withdrawal in late 1982. It was subsequently repatriated to the UK where it worked with the City of Oxford Motor Services afterwards.[20]

SBS received 200 Leyland Olympian 2-axles between 15 April 1986 and 20 February 1988. These were deployed to Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Jurong depots. Between 1995 and 1999, all of the Jurong Industrial and Tuas services were converted to Leyland Olympian 2-Axles with the exception of 246, which still has only 1-2 single deckers in its fleet until 2003. These buses were from services 30, 51, 78, 79, 97, 98, 143, 196, 197 and 198. When it transferred to SBS Transit in 1 November 2001, it did not receive SBS Transit livery due to the ongoing retirement from 2003 to 2004, and these buses were deployed on services 28, 70, 90, 94, 107, 136, 154, 157, 179, 182, 186, 192, 193, 199, 240, 242, 243, 246, 249, 251, 252, 254, 255, 257, 331, 333, 334, 335 and 410. The Jurong depot buses were withdrawn beginning on 17 June 2003, and replaced by Mercedes-Benz O405, Volvo B10M (Walter Alexander Strider), Leyland Olympian 3-Axle and Volvo Olympian 2-Axle and 3-Axle buses, which were mostly cascaded from bus routes affected by North East Line rationalisation and the transfer of Jurong Island services to private operators. The older Volvo Olympian 2-Axles and Leyland Olympian 3-Axles went in to Jurong Industrial Services. The last of these buses were withdrawn on 11 February 2004.

The last 50 Leyland Olympian 2-axle were retired on 30 May 2004, and replaced by Volvo B10TLs from January 2004. SBS7145X and SBS7152A are their last buses to run on 29 May 2004 at service 28. SBS6907X was converted into a "NYC Molly Bus" in 15 May 2003 (first bus to be withdrawn) and preserved as a static exhibit at Youth Park. SBS7196Z was converted to playschool bus since 30 December 2003 and was parked at various places, like schools, Singapore Expo, Padang, Kallang Leisure Park, Kampong Java (March 2007 - March 2008, under the lime green livery) and is now preserved at Jubilee Pat's Schoolhouse as a static exhibit since 9 March 2008.[21] SBS7175J and SBS7195B was burnt at Ang Mo Kio Depot in 1998.

SBS took delivery of 200 further Olympians in 1993/94. Buses were consolidated into the same depots after the withdrawal of the earliest Leyland Olympian 2-axles between June and December 2003. The first Leyland Olympian 3-axle was withdrawn in 26 November 2010 (SBS9000S) and the final Leyland Olympian 3-axle was withdrawn in April 2013. Some of them were scrapped and few of them were converted into some mobile exhibition units. On top of that, these buses were replaced by Volvo B9TLs.

SBS9168S, the last Leyland Olympian built, was repatriated to England in 2013 and is preserved by Dave Rogers and re-registered as L888 SBS.[22]

Leyland sale[edit]

In 1988, Leyland was purchased by Volvo, who only continued with the Olympian and Lynx due to the vast number of outstanding orders. More buses also went to Dublin Bus, London Transport, China Motor Bus and Hong Kong Citybus.

The completion of the final orders from Strathclyde Buses, Dublin Bus, China Motor Bus, Citybus and Singapore Bus Services saw the discontinuation of the Leyland Olympian, with the last delivered to Singapore Bus Services, and the plant in Workington closed.

The Leyland Olympian was superseded by the Volvo Olympian, with the existing chassis retained and a Volvo TD102KF engine replacing the Gardner engine option.[23][24] It remained in production until 2000.


  1. ^ Olympian launch at last Commercial Motor 4 October 1980
  2. ^ a b Leyland Olympian Bus Fleet lists on the Web
  3. ^ 2101 Leyland Olympian Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust
  4. ^ LT's off-the-peg buses Commercial Motor 30 July 1983
  5. ^ The London Olympians: L Class Ian's Bus Stop
  6. ^ Original London Sightseeing Archived 12 November 2014 at the Wayback Machine Open Top Bus 26 September 2014
  7. ^ The London Country Olympians: LR Class Ian's Bus Stop
  8. ^ Double century Commercial Motor 15 June 1989
  9. ^ Preston's farewell Olympian service Coach & Bus Week 21 December 2016
  10. ^ Double-deck success for Leyland in Athens Commercial Motor 20 November 1982
  11. ^ Hong Kong buys Commercial Motor 4 April 1987
  12. ^ Kowloon Motor Bus Leyland Olympian Gakei
  13. ^ China Motor Bus Leyland Olympian (Air-Conditioned) Gakei
  14. ^ China Motor Bus Leyland Olympian (Non Air-Conditioned) Gakei
  15. ^ Citybus Leyland Olympian Gakei
  16. ^ Dublin delivery Commercial Motor 16 August 1990
  17. ^ Leyland Bus gets US order Commercial Motor 14 September 1985
  18. ^ Newsbrief Commercial Motor 14 June 1986
  19. ^ "US Olympians repowered for return in San Francisco" Buses issue 724 July 2015 page 24
  20. ^ Land Transport Guru - Leyland Olympian
  21. ^ The fate of SBS7196Z
  22. ^ Last Leyland Olympian Built The Leyland Society 11 November 2014
  23. ^ Volvo power for Olympian Commercial Motor 27 February 1992
  24. ^ Volvo opens bus lines in Irvine Commercial Motor 1 April 1993
  • Curtis, Martin; Freeman, Norman (2010). Olympian - Bristol/Leyland/Volvo. Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 9780711034792.
  • Jack, Doug (1994). Beyond Reality. Venture Publications. ISBN 1-898432-02-3.

External links[edit]