Bus and Coach builders STRACHAN (and BROWN) England UK




Strachans, at one time known as Strachan and Brown, was a significant supplier of bus and coach bodies from the ‘Twenties through to the late ‘Sixties. After that they appear to have quit the PSV market but continued to trade as a supplier to the Ministry of Defense. Based for many years in North Acton, London they moved to premises on Hamble Airfield in Hampshire around 1960. The last date I have where any activity is recorded is 1984.

1900 Strachans Coachworks, logo

Their products were particularly prominent before WW2 with many London operators using them, while during the War they were a supplier of “Utility” bodywork. Post-War they were particularly associated with Aldershot and District, but seemed to go into a decline in the late ‘Fifties. The ‘Sixties saw a minor resurgence when they bodied a number of rear-engined single decker chassis including the London Transport XMS class, and provided the coachwork on the only five Dodge chassis sold in the UK.

Surprisingly I have been unable to trace more than passing references to this company anywhere on the web, so a group to record its existence seems appropriate.


    1. 1865 Birth of James Marshall Strachan [pronounced Strawn] at Medians, near Aberdeen, Scotland.
    • 1867 Birth of Walter Ernest Brown.
    • 1881 W E Brown is apprenticed to coachbuilders Laurie and Marner (Oxford Street, London).
    • 1894 W E Brown starts his own business at Shepherds Bush.
    • 1896 W E Brown partners with S A Hughes [full name and dates?] as Brown and Hughes (Kensington).
    • 1907 J M Strachan joins the partnership: Brown, Hughes and Strachan, with a large factory at Park Royal.
    • 1915 J M Strachan and W E Brown establish a new partnership as Strachan and Brown Ltd, based at the former Brown and Hughes premises (Holland Gate Garage, High Street, Kensington).
    • 1921 Strachan and Brown move to Wales Farm Road, Acton.
    • 1928 Strachan and Brown partnership dissolved; J M Strachan continues as Strachans Ltd; W E Brown and sons Dennis and Reginald become directors of Duple Bodies and Motors; the rest is WKC history.
    • 1929 Death of J M Strachan; Strachans is renamed Strachans (Acton) Ltd.
    • 1934 Strachans (Acton) is renamed Strachans Successors Ltd.
    • 1944 Death of W E Brown.
    • 1962 Strachans Successors is sold to Giltspur but continues to operate as Strachans (Coachbuilders) Ltd based at Hamble-le-Rice, Hampshire.
        1976 Strachans (Coachbuilders) ceases production.
    • * This info comes from Mrs Jacky Mackenzie, great grand daughter of Walter Ernest Brown

1920-31 Midland Red A177 (OH 1206) Tilling-Stevens TS3 Strachan and Brown B29F


1926 OC1 Strachan Brown of Acton Daimler CF6 W L


1927 AEC OC14 Strachan + Brown of Acton


1928 0827MoTr-Strac1929 OC14 Strachan of Acton on Berliet


1930 HX 1388 A E C Regent Strachans H2624R


1930 Leyland LT2 with a Strachan B32R body


1932 Leyland TS4 originally with Harrington body rebodied in 1949 with this Strachan C33F body


1933 Gilford Zeus Strachan H24-24R 079-XM


1936 AEC Regent, originally with L.P.T.B. H30-26R rebodied in May 1956 with the 1947 Strachan L27-28R body, rebodied by Roe


1939 AEC-Strachan double decker 125, BHJ195


1939 AEC-Strachan double decker 129, BHJ199


1939 AEC-Strachan double decker 129, BHJ199a


1943 Bradford Guy Arab 1, Fleet No 467, Reg No DKY 467.


1943 Guy Arab had a Strachan L27-28R body


1943 Strachan utility L27-28R body so extensively rebuilt by Silcox by 1956 into the condition shown that it is no longer recognisable as of Strachan origins


1944 Bristol K5G Strachan ex Hants & Dorset GLJ971


1944 Guy Arab II rebodied 1960 Massey L57R & 2005 GYL984 1945 Guy Arab II rebodied 1955 Strachan L56R


1944 Guy Arab II with a Strachan L27-28R body


1945 Barton 443, GNN704, was a Guy Arab II with a Strachans L27-28R body


1945 Bristol K6A - Stranchan.


Originally bodied Weymann L55R. Acquired by Moores from Birch Bros. 1952.


1945 Guy Arab II with a Strachan L27-28R (8'0 wide) body


1945 Guy Arab II with a Strachan L27-28R body


1945 Guy Arab II with Strachan H56R body


1945 Guy Arab II with Strachan L27-28RD utility body


1945 Guy Arab II with Strachan lowbridge body


1945 Guy Arab ll Strachan


1947 33 JDE426 Bristol L5G Strachan DP35F


1947 56 was a Strachan L27-28R bodied Albion CX19 whilst 81 was the Roe L27-26RD rebodied single-deck Albion CX39N chassis


1947 AEC Regent with Strachan L27-28R body a


1947 AEC Regent with Strachan L27-28R body


1947 Dennis J3 Lancet with a Strachan C32R body


1947 Guy Arab III with a Strachan L27-28R body


My beautiful picture


1947 Leyland PS1-1s with Strachans C33F bodi


1947 Maudslay Marathon III Strachans FC33F , new with Enterprise Coaches of Kenton , Middlesex


1947 Strachans Coachworks, advert1948 38 JDE 431 Bristol L5G Strachans


1948 AEC Regal III Strachans B35R JFM575 Crosville


1948 AEC Regal III with Strachan B35R body a



1948 AEC Regal III with Strachan B35R body


1948 AEC Regal III-Strachan TA5


1948 Bristol L5G Strachan DP35F


1948 Guy Arab 114, NEV609 with a Strachan L27-26R body


1948 Guy Arab III single decker with Strachans B34F body


1949 AEC Regal III with Strachan B36F body


1949 Crossley DD42-3 which was fitted from new with this Strachans FC33F body


1949 Daimler CVD6 with Strachans bodywork


1949 Guy Arab III with a Strachan L27-28R


1949 Guy Arab III with Strachan L27-28R bodywork


1949 Guy Arab III with Strachans L55R body


1949 Strachan C35F bodied Guy Arab III


1950 A.E.C. 9612A Regent III with a Strachans L27-28R body


1950 A.E.C. 9621E Regal III with a Strachan C33F body


1950 Albion Venturer CX37S with a Strachan L55R


1950 Dennis J10 Lancet with Strachan B38R body


1950 Dennis J10 Lancets with Strachan B38R bodies 175, HOU901


1950 Dennis Lancet 3 with Strachan B38R body


1950 Dennis Lancet III Strachan B38R Guildford Onslow Street


1950 Guy Arab III with a Strachan L27-28R body


1950 Guy Arab III with Strachan C35F body


1950 Guy Arab IV with uncommon Strachans FL31-26RD bodywork



1950 Leyland CPO1 Comet with a Strachan C37F body



1950 Leyland Tiger PS2-1 Strachan B34R



1950 Strachan C35F bodied Guy Arab III



1950 Strachans coach and bus bodies, advert, c19501950 Trojan Diesel with a Strachans 14 seat coach body1951 Crossley DD42-8 with a Strachan H31-28RD body


1951 Dennis Dominant with a Strachans B41C body



1951 Guy Arab III with a Strachan B38F body





1951 Guy Arab III with Strachan B38F body a



1951 Guy Arab III with Strachan B38F body



1951 Guy Arab III with Strachan FL31-26RD body




1951 Leyland Motors Ltd Leyland UK Ad Dublin Ireland Double-Decker Bus1951 Leyland Royal Tiger PSU 1-15 Strachan C4K GVN-952



1952 Ad1953 Bedford Strachans Bus Photo Yugoslavia



1953 Dennis Lancet J10C with Strachan C38F body



1953 Strachan H31-28RD bodied A.E.C. 9613S Regent III



1954 AEC MU3RV Reliances with Strachan 'Everest' C41C bodies a



1954 AEC MU3RV Strachan C41C at Aldershot Garage



1954 AEC MU3RV Strachan C41C in Hampton Court Station Goods Yard



1954 AEC Reliance MU3RV with a Strachan C41C body a



1954 AEC Reliance MU3RV with a Strachan C41C body





1954 AEC Reliance MU3RV with Strachan Everest C41C bodywork



1954 Dennis Falcon LOU65 with Strachan bodywork



1954 Dennis P5 Falcons with Strachan B30F bodies



1954 Leyland PSUC1-2 Tiger Cubs with Strachans Everest C41C bodies



1954 Leyland PSUC1-2 with Strachans C41C body



1954 Leyland PSUC1-2T Tiger Cub with Strachan Everest C41C body



1954 Strachan bodied AEC Reliance



1954 Strachan bodied AEC Reliant



1954 Strachan Everest C41C bodied AEC Reliance



1954 Trojan DT Strachans C15F.



1955 AEC MU3RV Reliances with Strachan 'Everest' C41C bodies



1955 AEC Reliance Strachan C41C



1955 Commer Strachans Everest Transit Bus Brochure1955 Dennis Lancet UFs with Strachan DP41F bodies



1955 Guy Arab IV with a Strachan L27-28R body



1955 Guy Arab IV with Strachans L28-28R body



1955 OC1 Strachans Successors Ltd of Acton on AEC Reliance for Fales Coaches of Bath 1955



1955 Strachan Everest C41C bodywork on its AEC Reliance chassis



1955 Valliant XHN574 AEC Reliance Strachans C41C




1956 Dennis Falcon Strachan B30F in Aldershot Garage yard


1956 Dennis Falcon with Strachan B30F body a


1956 Dennis Falcon with Strachan B30F body


1956 Dennis Falcons with Strachan B30F bodies


1956 Dennis P5 Falcon 275, POR421, with a Strachan B30F body


1956 Strachan bodied Dennis Falcon POR428 at Stokes Bay


1956 Trojan with a Strachan C13F body


 1958 Strachans bodied batch of Seddons


1959 Ford 611E - Strachan BxxF


1962 Albion Nimbus NS3N with Strachan DP31F body


1962 Barton 442 GNN703 Strachan bodied Guy Arab II


1962 Guy Arab IV Strachans H72R


1962 Strachan H37-32RD bodied Guy Arab IV


1962 Strachans bodied Bedford VAL


1962 Strachans bodied Bedford VAL14s


1963 AEC Regent V - Stranchan


1963 AEC Regent V One of a trio delivered to members of the co-operative all carried this unusual and rare Strachans bodywork


1963 Ford Thames Traders with Strachans bodies seating 33 upstairs and carrying 23 bikes downstairs a


1963 Ford Thames Traders with Strachans bodies seating 33 upstairs and carrying 23 bikes downstairs b


1963 Ford Thames Traders with Strachans bodies seating 33 upstairs and carrying 23 bikes downstairs


1963 OC14 Strachans Dartford Tun Bus 1963-5


1963 OC14 Strachans Dartford Tunnel Bus


1963 OC14 Strachens Successors Ltd. of Hamble on Ford Thames Trader for London Transport Country Buses Dartford Tunnel Service only


1963 Hutchings & Cornelius Strachans bodied Dennis Lancet TYC 319 lays over after running in from its South Petherton home while CYC 669C, a Bedford SB5-Strachans


1963 Leyland Titan PD2A-30 - Strachans H61Rd d


1963 Leyland Titan PD2A-30 - Strachans H61Rd


1964 Bedford VAL14 Strachan B52F


1964 Bedford VAL14 with unusual low-height Strachan B52F bodywork a


1964 Bedford VAL14 with unusual low-height Strachan B52F bodywork


1964 Daimler 92, DCP836, passing Guy Arab V demonstrator 888DUK on trial with the corporation


1964 Dodge S307 Strachans C42F by the Kings Arms at Hampton Court


1964 Dodge S307 Strachans C42F in Hampton Court Station Goods Yard


1964 Dodge S307-190T Strachan C42F AYV-94B


1964 Guy Arab V demonstrator 888DUK on trial with Halifax Corporation in summer 1964. It carried a Strachan front entrance body


1964 Guy demonstrator 888DUK with Halifax Corporation in June 1964. It carried a Strachan front entrance body.


1964 Leyland Leopard L1 Strachan B45D


1964 Leyland Leopard L1 with Strachans B45D bodywork


1964 Leyland Leopard L1, had bodywork by Strachan


1964 Leyland Leopards in 1964 with unusual but very neat Strachan dual entrance bodywork seating 45


1964 Leyland PD2A-30 with Strachan H35-28RD bodywork


1964 Strachan DP49F bodied AEC 2U3RA Reliance


1964 Strachans bodied Dodge S307-190T coaches


1964 Strachans Low Bridge bodied Guy Arab IV 53DHK


1965 AEC Reliance Leyland Lepard Strachans Bus Brochure 1965 Austin Strachans Bus Sales Brochure 1965 Bedford SB Strachan Pacesaver B--F demonstrator parked at Sandown Park Race Course, Esher, Surrey


1965 Bedford SB Strachan Pacesaver B--F in Windsor


1965 Bedford SP Strachans Paysaver Transit Bus Brochure 1965 Bedford VAS Strachans 30 Seat Bus Brochure 1965 Bournemouth Transport Bedford VAS Strachan M4

1965-bournemouth-transport-bedford-vas-strachan-m4 © Richard Godfray

1965 Dodge BMC Scammell Strachans Bus Brochure 1965 Ford Strachan


1965 Guy Arab V 6LW built in 1965 with Strachans H41-31F bodywork


1965 Leyland Leopard Strachans Transit Bus Brochure 1965 Strachans Eiger 63 Bus Brochure England 1965 Strachans Transit Bus Sales Brochure England 1966 AEC Merlin P2R Strachan B25D originally London Transport XMS4


1966 AEC Merlin P2R Strachan B25D


1966 AEC Reliance Strachan B39F


1966 FBR 53D Leyland Panther-Strachans ex Sunderland, Metro Centre


1966 Ford R192 NPT306D with Strachans B44F bodywork


1966 Ford R192 with Strachan B44F bodywork


1966 Ford R226 with Strachan B52D bodywork


1966 Leyland demonstrator YTB771D on test with Halifax Corporation, a Leyland PSRC1-1 Panther Cub with a Strachans B43D body


1966 Leyland Panther PSUR1-1R Strachan 53 FBR53D Sunderland Corporation


1966 Leyland Panther PSUR1-1R with Strachans B47+19D bodywork


1966 Leyland PSU3-1R-Strachans


1966 MBS15, the only Strachans AEC Merlin


1966 Strachans AEC Merlin


1966 WMPTE 3661 - Ford R192 with Strachans body ex Birmingham City Transport


1967 A E C Swift MP2R with Strachan B54D bodywork


1967 A E C Swift MP2R with Strachans B58F bodywork


1967 AEC Reliance Strachan B39F


1967 AEC XMS1 Strachan (JLA51D) from Gillingham Street Garage on Red Arrow Route 500 in Park Lane


1967 Bedford SB Strachans J33643


1967 Bedford VAM14 with Strachan B33D+25 bodi


1967 Bristol RELL6G Strachan B34D + 218 SRD18 1959 AEC Reliance 2MU3RV Burlimgham B34D


1967 Bristol RELL6G with Strachans B34D body


1967 Daimler Roadliner SRC6 Strachan B54D in Victoria Square Bus Station


1967 Ford Strachans bus 1967 Guy Arab V with Strachan H41-31F body


1967 Leyland Panther 88, GBR88E, with Strachans bodywork FBR53D


1967 Leyland Panther 88, GBR88E, with Strachans bodywork


1967 Leyland Panther, Strachan,


1967 Strachan bodied AEC Reliance ex Aldershot & District 273 MOR604


1967 Strachan-bodied Ford R192


1967 Two Strachan bodied Guy Arabs are closest - 152N in cream-blue ansd not then yet withrawn, alongside 216N


1968 AEC Swift MP2R Strachan B47D at Portswood Garage


1968 AEC Swift MP2R Strachan B47D originally Southampton Corporation 4 in Guildford Farnham Road Bus Station


1968 AEC Swift MP2R with Strachan B47D bodywork


1968 EYO 885J - Another Bedford VAS Strachans (this one with high backed coach seats)


1968 Ford R226 with Strachans 53-seater body


1968 Ford R226 with Strachans bodywork


1968 Leyland Panther Cub Demonstrator with Strachans body at the Earls Court Motor Show


1968 Leyland Panther Cub PSRC1-1 with Strachan 43 seat bodywork


1968 Leyland Panther Cub PSRC1-1 with Strachan B43F body


1968 Leyland Panther PSUR1-1R with Strachan B45F bodywork a


1968 Leyland Panther PSUR1-1R with Strachan B45F bodywork


1968nAEC Swift MP2R Strachan B47D MTR-420F

1968 aec-swift-mp2r-strachan-b47d-mtr-420f

1969 Bedford VAS 3 Strachan body Ex-MoD


1970 Ford Transit with Strachan B16F body


1972 Ford Transit Strachan DP16F


1975 The last Strachan - DDA149C,


That’s it, it’s enough

SMIT Buses Joure Friesland The Netherlands 1921-1999

Smit Joure

 1964 ZWH-bus 75, Scania-Vabis-Smit JoureZWH-bus 75, Scania-Vabis/Smit Joure, uit 1964

1968 LAB-bus 17, DAF-Smit Joure

 LAB-bus 17, DAF/Smit Joure, uit 1968
Smit Orion Scania bus
Smit Orion touringcar in Oekraïne
Smit DAF Mercurius 3
 Smit Daf Mercurius

Smit Joure te Joure was een Nederlands bedrijf dat van 1921 tot 1999 carrosserieën voor autobussen en andere bedrijfswagens heeft vervaardigd. Er heeft nooit een relatie bestaan met de vroegere busbouwer Smit Appingedam.


Eerste jaren

Smit’s Rijtuig- en Wagenmakerij in Joure werd gesticht in 1917 door Jan Alexander Smit, die het failliete bedrijf van een familielid overnam. Aanvankelijk hield Smit zich vooral bezig met het vervaardigen en verkopen van houten boerenkarren en bakfietsen. In 1921 werd ook de bouw van carrosserieën voor automobielen ter hand genomen en dankzij de uitbreiding met een smederij werd het vanaf 1926 mogelijk ook opleggersen aanhangwagens te gaan bouwen. Door de handel in wagenwielen, een omvangrijke nevenactiviteit, kwam eigenaar Smit in de streek bekend te staan als “Jan Wiel”.

Het bedrijf breidde zich gestaag uit en had in 1937, toen de naam werd gewijzigd in Smit’s Wagen- en Carrosseriefabriek, een grote klantenkring inFriesland en daarbuiten opgebouwd. Tijdens de Tweede Wereldoorlog moest Smit noodgedwongen terugvallen op de handel in niet-gemotoriseerde voertuigen, zoals tot boerenwagen verbouwde vrachtwagens, maar ook werden gasgeneratoren vervaardigd.

Na de oorlog

Na de bevrijding werd begonnen met de fabricage van verhuiswagens, cabines voor vrachtwagens (op chassis van onder meer Kromhout) en ‘dental cars’ (rijdende tandartsspreekkamers). De eerste “echte” autobus bouwde Smit in 1948. Dit werd gaandeweg de belangrijkste activiteit. Daarnaast werden grote orders ontvangen van de Koninklijke Landmacht en de Koninklijke Luchtmacht, waardoor een nieuwe fabriek nodig was, die in 1951 werd geopend. Smit was nu in staat steeds grotere aantallen buscarrosserieën te bouwen, op allerlei chassismerken, maar vooralBedford en DAF.

Ook de vormgeving maakte in de jaren vijftig een snelle ontwikkeling door, waarbij karakteristieke Smit Joure-modellen ontstonden met namen alsRoyal Coach en Victoria Coach. Dankzij een grote order van een Zweedse reisorganisatie was Smit aan het eind van de jaren vijftig de grootste exporteur van touringcars in Nederland. Daarnaast zijn de Friese streekvervoerders LAB en ZWH altijd goede klanten geweest.

DAF SMIT nashultabolagen ESKILSTUNA d-800 SWEDEN DAF SMIT nashultabolagen ESKILSTUNA dom-450 SWEDEN1958 DAF SMIT nashultabolagen ESKILSTUNA dom-450 SWEDEN

De grootste doorbraak kwam in 1960 met het type Eldorado, dat tien jaar in productie is gebleven en waarvan de vormgeving, met grote gebogen panoramische zijruiten, opzien baarde. De Duitse fabrikant Gottlob Auwärter – producent van de met soortgelijke ruiten uitgeruste Neoplan bussen – beschuldigde Smit van plagiaat, maar verloor de rechtszaak. In samenwerking met diverse fabrikanten, maar vooral DAF die diverse chassistypen kon leveren, werden er meer dan 650 Eldorado’s gebouwd.

In de jaren zeventig voerde Smit een verregaande stroomlijning door in het productieproces, waarbij steeds meer bussen in serie werden gebouwd. De samenwerking met DAF werd geïntensiveerd, maar daarnaast werden ook Magirus-Deutz bussen opgebouwd. De opvolger van de Eldorado, de Comfortliner, werd op zijn beurt weer opgevolgd door de Euroliner en de met een verhoogde carrosserie uitgeruste Eurohiliner. Een geheel nieuw model had in 1983 de Smit Orion Liner, die in vele soorten en maten kon worden geleverd, met varianten als de Orion Highliner en de Mercurius.

Ook succes had Smit met de bouw van rijdende winkels, eerst op basis van Citroën HY-techniek, later o.a. de bekende SRV-wagens. Hiervoor werd een aparte fabriekshal gebouwd.


Smit had nog steeds een groot deel van de touringcarmarkt in handen, als fabrikant en ook als wereldwijd handelaar, maar om te kunnen overleven in een veranderende markt, waarbij ook steeds hogere eisen werden gesteld aan het productieproces, werd aansluiting gezocht bij DAF Bus. Dat kocht Smit Joure in 1996, waarna de leiding werd overgenomen door de VDL Groep, eigenaar van DAF Bus. Kort nadat in 1998 nog het nieuwe model Smit Stratos was geïntroduceerd, werd de productie overgebracht naar de Berkhof-vestigingen in Valkenswaard en Heerenveen. Deze laatste was de opvolger van carrosseriefabriek Hainje, die in Friesland altijd Smit’s grote concurrent was geweest. Daarmee kwam in 1999 een einde aan de activiteiten van Smit Joure.


Uit de as van Smit richtte een aantal oud-medewerkers in mei 2001 het carrosserie- en wagenbouwbedrijf FCB (Friesland Coach Builders) op. Dit voert reparatie-en onderhoudswerkzaamheden uit, aanvankelijk vooral aan Smit-bussen, maar inmiddels aan bussen van allerlei producenten. Men wilde ook nieuwe bussen bouwen, maar vanwege het beperkte budget is dat niet van de grond gekomen.


1964 DAF B1100, Dutch licence registration XB-79-76 P Kapitein Schagen

DAF B1100 Smit Eldorado uit 1964 van Kapitein te Schagen

Omdat Smit Joure tot laat in de jaren negentig nog bussen gebouwd heeft, zijn nog regelmatig producten van deze fabriek op de weg aan te treffen. Drie echte oldtimers zijn bewaard gebleven, alle drie van het model Smit Eldorado:

  • In de collectie van het Nationaal Bus Museum in Hoogezand bevindt zich de vroegere LAB-bus 17, een DAF B1300 uit 1968.
  • Touringcarbedrijf Kapitein, nu automuseum, te Schagen beschikt over een DAF B1100 uit 1964.
  • Touringcarbedrijf Bergerhof te Mierlo bewaart een DAF MB200 uit 1966.

1946 White LAB Smit Joure B-31746 1946 White LAB Smit Joure B-31746a

1946White Smit Joure

1947 B-6887 Jan Smit, Joure, gemeente Haskerland. Afgegeven 16-8-1923

1947 Daf Smit

1950 Ford V8 Frankrijk carr. Smit Joure B-3927 1954 Austin CXD, carrosserie Smit, Joure. Bouwjaar 1954 B-7164 Nederland 1954 B-7164 Austin CXD with rather flamboyant body by Smit of Joure 1956 Bus-10-Smit-Apingedam-uit-1956-1 1956 Bus-14-Smit-Joure-1 1956 DAF B1300 - Smit Appingedam-Moorman 5 1956 Daf carr.Smit Appingedam Moorman 5 1956 Daf, B1300 P468 Smit Appingedam 1958 DAF SMIT nashultabolagen ESKILSTUNA d-800 SWEDEN 1958 DAF SMIT nashultabolagen ESKILSTUNA dom-450 SWEDEN 1959 Cadillac.Fleetwood.AD5957.SmitJoure.DeVriesAssen.ext.bw 1959 DAF B1500 DL580 Smit Starreveld Zaandam TB-35-42 1959 Volvo B615-Smit Joure tourwagen met 49 zitp Schutte 1960 Ford-transit met een tweede karrosserie van Smit-Joure 1961 Volvo B615-Smit Joure met 47 zitplaatsen Schutte31 1962 Büssing White Cars Heerlensmit-70 1964 DAF B1100, Dutch licence registration XB-79-76 P Kapitein Schagen 1964 OM Tigrotto-Smit Joure nr.2, in 1972 vernummerd in 25 1964 ZWH-bus 75, Scania-Vabis-Smit Joure 1965 23 DAF Smit Joure 1965 DAF TB 160 DD 530, 6 cylinder, 83kW Smit 1965 DAF-bus DAM 154 met carrosserie van Smit Appingedam. 1966 DAF TB160DD530 met een carrosserie van Smit Appingedam gado155exdamtegroningenqy8 1966 Mignon 25 DAF Smit Joure ex Labeto 51 1967 DAF Smit Joure Ex Mignon. 27 1967 VOLVO SMIT ARKE 7 1968 LAB-bus 17, DAF-Smit Joure 1971 lindbergh 25 Fiat Smit garage waterland 1973 DAF Arke DAF+Smit 1977 DAF 1602DH605+Smit, te Doetinchem 1978 1988 SMIT Orion (RAI) (2) 1988 SMIT Orion (RAI) 1989 SMIT 'Riet ter GB-33-89' 1990 SMIT Orion Economy (6-11-120) 1996 SMIT ORION (1) RAI 1996 SMIT ORION (2) RAI 1996 SMIT ORION (3) RAI Arke-Smit-DAF (PR Smit) AUSTIN SMIT JOURE TRAVO 4 TS-72-09 Bus-14-Smit-Joure-2 DAF B1300 - Smit Appingedam-Moorman 5 DAF B1300 - Smit Appingedam-Moorman 5a DAF smit 6 AB-59-69 DAF SMIT 126-3-ret-tours DAF SMIT ARKE 2 ZN-75-44 DAF SMIT ARKE 15 UB-92-21 DAF Smit Joure esa 147 DAF Smit Joure esa 150 DAF SMIT JOURE GEBR. ZOET ELBURG BB-BD-75 DAF SMIT JOURE KOOPMANS-JUBBEGA 2 PB-70-08 DAF SMIT JOURE OORTWIJN 22 OUDE PEKELA ZB-89-71 DAF SMIT JOURE OORTWIJN 26 ALMELO DS-90-02 DAF SMIT JOURE RTM 89 AB-01-56 DAF SMIT JOURE SMIT 17 82-ZB-38 DAF SMIT JOURE TER-RIET 11 BUSSUMS BLOEI VN-39-96 DAF SMIT LABO 7 ZB-75-92 DAF SMIT NAM 6 BD-LV-55 a DAF SMIT NAM 6 BD-LV-55 DAF SMIT ONOG 76 VB-74-DK DAF SMIT VAN HEMPEN 24 BG-ZR-31 ESA 95 DAF B1527 Smit Appingedam (Ex Veenstra ) ESA 100-1. Mercedes Benz. OP 3500 Smit Appingedam gado154exdam154tegroninvv9 Lindbergh bus 25 Smit Joure Muijs 120 ex ESA 158133-2 DAF SB3000-DKSB585L Smit Joure novio 800 smit-joure-daf-sb225 VT-20-HT Scania Vabis Carros. SMIT Joure Ned

Scania Vabis CarrosSeriefabriek Smit NV Joure

smit 6 Smit DAF Mercurius 3 Smit Euroliner+DAF (1) Smit Eurolioner+DAF (2) SMIT JOURE 101 ESA149 arch JHarmsen 1DAF SB1600 DS 470 ESA SMIT Joure 102 ESA150 voor gemeentehuis Marum arch JHarmsen 2150 DAF SB1600-DS 605 ESA. SMIT JOURE SCHUTTE 4 ZWOLLE PB-10-13

Ford Smit Joure

Smit Jupiter+DAF (Coll_BT) SMIT KLEIS 15 COEVORDEN VB-73-60 SMIT Orion (4) Immage Smit Orion Scania bus SMIT SCHUTTE 15 UB-11-34 smit-60 smit-joure scania-vabis FH-30-02 smit-joure-daf VOLVO SMIT ARKE 3 UB-15-97 VOLVO SMIT CLUB CONTINENTAL


PLAXTON Scarborough England UK


1907 Plaxton model T Charabanc


is a builder of bus and coach vehicle bodies based in Scarborough, England. The Plaxton of today is the successor to a business founded in Scarborough in 1907 by Frederick William Plaxton. It became a subsidiary of Alexander Dennis in 2007.



The business was founded as a joinery workshop, and expanded into building contracting. As a building contractor, Plaxtons built a number of notable buildings in Scarborough. Soon after World War I Plaxtons diversified and began to build charabanc bodies on Ford Model T chassis. Of more importance at the time was the construction of automobile bodywork. This included bodywork for Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam and Daimler, but principally for Crossley car chassis. This activity continued through the 1920s, but the depression of 1929-1933 created difficulties for manufacture of luxury automobiles. As a result, the manufacture of charabanc, and later coach bodies became more important through the late 1920s and early 1930s. Customers during this time tended to be local to the Scarborough area, Scarborough being a popular seaside resort.

1930. 37 Seater Bus-Coach Type A3


Coaches of the 1930s

By 1936 the company felt justified in construction of a large new manufacturing facility in Seamer Road, Scarborough. This allowed increased production, and Plaxtons became popular with many independent operators throughout Northern England. Many of these operators purchased their vehicles through independent dealers, rather than directly from the factory. In this regard, Plaxton’s sales were through Lancashire Motor Traders Ltd of Manchester and Arlington Motor Co Ltd of London. The company became known as F.W. Plaxton & Son by 1937, as the founder’s son, also named Frederick William joined the company at the age of 18. FW Plaxton junior was to be known as Eric to avoid confusion with his father.

Plaxton cars

Plaxtons built a number of different coach designs through the 1930s, until settling on a distinctive house style. The style typically consisted of a very rounded front profile at the windscreen area with side windows that sloped backwards at the front, were upright at the centre, and sloped forward at the back. Bodywork for the Bedford WTB chassis was particularly distinctive, sloping severally from the bottom of the front wheel arch to the roofline, leaving the “bullnose” radiator grille protruding. The rear also sloped prominently. The WTB chassis was very popular choice for operators at that time, together with the Dodge RBF and SBF. Leyland and AEC chassis were also popular for larger coaches, notably the Leyland Tiger and AEC Regal.

On the outbreak of World War II in 1939, coach production halted and the factory was turned into a munitions factory under the control of the Ministry of Aircraft Production. Many records from the early years were lost when an incendiary bomb set fire to the Seamer Rd factory in 1943 causing much damage. As the factory was under control of the Ministry of Works, production continued in the open air whilst a replacement was constructed. Some adjacent land was loaned by a market gardener who subsequently joined the board years later.

1946 Leyland Tiger Plaxton body



Production restarted at the end of 1945, and in 1951 the business was registered for the first time as a private company, Plaxtons (Scarborough) Ltd.

Two new models were exhibited at the 1950 Commercial Motor Show, with names instead of model codes for the first time. The Envoy was for traditional front-engined chassis, and featured a full-front cab with a vee-pattern windscreen, and aluminium trim across the lower part of the radiator grill extending round squared-off front corners to the wheel arches. The Crusader, which could be built on front-engined or the new underfloor-engined chassis, had a more upright front profile, with curved glass panels at the windscreen corners, and in most cases an enlarged side window with sloping pillars between this and the entrance. On front-engined chassis the Crusader employed the Envoy’s front trim. Both Envoy and Crusader were produced to the new maximum dimensions of 30 ft (9.1 m) by 8 ft (2.4 m), and many examples were originally fitted with rear wheel spats.

1948 AEC Regal lll 9621E418 Plaxton ha324z


The Envoy was short-lived, perhaps partly because of the obsolescence of most of the chassis types for which it was intended, while the Crusader was rapidly overtaken by a further new underfloor-engined model – the Venturer. The Venturer combined the front of the Crusader with more restrained and conservative styling, and proved so popular that it wasn’t long before a version was produced for front-engined chassis (mostly lightweight Bedfords and Commers) with a rather more raked frontal appearance. By the time the Mark II version appeared at the 1952 show, the Venturer was Plaxton’s standard model.

1949 Plaxton Sentinel-2


The Venturer II had a common front profile for all models, together with a standard dash panel featuring a four-part radiator grille with a central cross within an oval outline which also embraced the headlamps. A rear-end revision marked the launch of the Venturer III in 1954, and the following year a version was produced for underfloor-engined chassis with the entrance ahead of the front axle. This required a return to a more vertical front profile, and meant that there were now three variants of the Venturer – front engined, underfloor-engined with a centre entrance and underfloor-engined with a front entrance. This three-variant approach, established with the Venturer, continued throughout the life of the succeeding Consort model and into the Embassy era, although the relative importance of the three versions varied significantly over the years.

1950 Bedford OB ETL221, Plaxton 29 seater coach with 28HP petrol engine


The Consort was first shown at the 1956 Commercial Motor Show. It was a development of the Venturer, but in place of the previous oval the four-part grill was now enclosed by a near-trapezoidal outline (though actually hexagonal), wider at the top than the bottom, with the headlamps outside. Trim was revised to be much squarer in outline, featuring ribbed brightwork, and the curved rear quarter lights, first standardised on the Venturer III, were now incorporated into the main window line. However, a year later the Consort II was announced, re-introducing the oval grill outline of the Venturer – but now surrounding a plainer grill with chrome flash across the middle – while the trim lines so recently squared up were softened once again. The evident popularity of the oval- shaped grill then ensured its survival as a Plaxton hallmark for many years to come.

1952 Bussen Commer Avenger built in 1952 with Plaxton Envoy bodywork


In 1957 the founder of the company, F.W. Plaxton Senior, died, and was succeeded as Chairman by his son Frederick Jnr, though known as Eric.

In 1958 Plaxtons were approached by Sheffield United Tours (SUT) with a requirement for a new crisper design of coach body. The result was the first Panorama body. The main feature of the Panorama design was the large, fixed rectangular side windows. A vertical front from the contemporary Consort II design was used, with the door ahead of the front axle. The 1958 Panorama was entered into the British and the Nice coach rallies, winning top awards at both events. The first six Panoramas, designated “Panorama Pioneer” by SUT, were built on AEC Reliance chassis and seated 36 passengers.

1956 plaxton consort bus brochure Bedford


The production version of the Panorama, with 41 seats as standard, was introduced at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show, as an addition to the existing range, available in one form only – on underfloor-engined chassis with the entrance ahead of the front axle. In common with the new Consort III and IV, it had a new silver-effect dished oval grill with a chrome flash through the middle, and a curved windscreen with a central division. The original Panorama’s short window immediately behind the entrance door was removed and encapsulated into the first bay, and the difference in level between the waistline and the rear window was accommodated by a stylish “kick-up” at the rear. The design then received minor modifications over the next two years.

1957 AEC Reliance Plaxton Consort C41C bodied


Consort IV variants with the entrance further back, together with the smaller Consort III, were able to use a windscreen with even greater curvature, but it was the Panorama which was the trend-setter, becoming a strong influence on the development of British coach styling for years to come.

1960s and 1970s

Plaxton became a public company in January 1961.

For the 1961 coaching season the Consort IV evolved into the Embassy, the main change being that the windows now tapered inwards towards the roof rather than being vertical. At the same time a new version of the Panorama was created, using the same shell as the Embassy but with fewer window pillars.

The new Panorama boasted a completely new front, featuring a slight peak overhang above the windscreen (which was now optionally undivided), a small grill at the bottom of the front panel, and for the first time double headlights. Embassy bodies on underfloor-engined chassis shared some or all of these features, depending on the entrance position. However, because the standard offering in the underfloor-engined sector was now the Panorama, most Embassy bodies were built on lightweight front-engined chassis – particularly the Thames 570E and Bedford SB. In this form, with the entrance behind the front axle, the Embassy retained the dished oval grill and wrap-around windscreen of the Consort IV. The rear of both Panorama and Embassy comprised a two-piece curved glass window that wrapped around to meet the rearmost side pillars, and the lights were contained in a single unit with a fin-like top rather like the rear of the Ford Anglia 105E saloon.

36-foot (11 m) versions of both models were introduced, on Leyland Leopard and AEC Reliance chassis, as soon as legislation allowed, and were 8 feet 2.5 inches (2.502 m) wide. The first 36-foot coach in Britain was a Panorama delivered to SUT in 1961. However, while the extra length gave a real boost to the Panorama’s appearance – with the falling roofline making the vehicle look even longer than it actually was – the extension of the Embassy by two additional window bays was less satisfactory. So much so that when a “multi-windowed” Embassy II, in the livery of Bloomfields Coaches of London, appeared on the newly introduced Bedford VAL 36-foot chassis at the 1962 Commercial Motor Show, the reaction was so negative than no more of this type were built.

Alongside the Bloomfields VAL on the Plaxton stand was a further revised Panorama. This was an altogether much larger looking vehicle than before, with deeper windows all round, the waistline curvature radically reduced to a point where it was almost straight, a new rear window interchangeable with the windscreen, and a reduction in the number of window pillars on 36-foot versions. Because of the adverse reaction to the “multi-windowed” Embassy, from 1963 all 36-foot Plaxton coach bodies used the new Panorama shell, with windows of large size whether fixed or opening, although, as previously, the Panorama name was restricted to underfloor-engined coaches with fixed glazing and entrance ahead of the front axle. Of the non-Panoramas, by far the most popular model was the new production body on the Bedford VAL chassis, which retained the large oval grill because of the front-mounted radiator, and was simply named Val.

The Embassy name was now being used for what were effectively two separate models. For underfloor-engined chassis there was a 36-foot body using the Panorama shell (built mainly for the Wallace Arnold Group), and for 30-foot (9.1 m) and shorter front-engined chassis the original short-windowed body was updated with a pronounced reverse-rake peak over the windscreen as the Embassy II. For the 1964 season the latter was substantially redesigned as the Embassy III, catching up in several respects with the development of the Panorama, but introducing a new near-rectangular grill which signalled the beginning of the end for the familiar Plaxton oval.

02 1970 Dons_Tour_Brochure_photo_1970

1965 Plaxton Panorama on Bedford VAL chassis

The Plaxton coach range which appeared at the 1964 Commercial Motor Show had been extensively revised with assistance from the Ogle design consultancy. Waistrails were virtually straight, and rooflines distinctly shallower. On the new Panorama (later to become Panorama I), a wide chrome trim band wrapped around the front and encompassed the first window bay on either side. The trim then swept upwards to the roof line and neatly terminated on the air scoop at the roof line. The window pillar on the first bay was noticeably thicker than the others and gave the impression of size that managed to enhance the appearance of the whole vehicle. The front grill was revised and basically split in two horizontally. Twin headlights were on each side of a panel that contained ventilation louvres at the top with the lower part being the actual grill that spanned the width of the vehicle. This grill was to become standard with little change until the Supreme IV of 1978. Again a bit of a Plaxton that was instantly recognisable and a familiar sight throughout Britain. The rear featured two large 9″ circular rear lights each side arranged vertically, and the entrance door was now the forward in-swinging type.

For the first time the Panorama was offered on all chassis types, including Ford R226 and Bedford VAL, looking particularly well-suited to the latter, where the chrome trim on the first window bay harmonised with the twin steering axles below. There was even a Panorama for the Bedford SB and Ford Thames 570E, although here the thickened window pillar was absent, and the chrome trim did not extend across the front of the vehicle.

In addition to the Panoramas, a more basic series of models was offered, with windows of similar size, but with simpler trim and top sliding vent windows instead of forced air vents. Initially these were built on Bedford and Ford chassis only and named variously as Val, Vam (on the new Bedford VAM chassis) or Embassy IV. However, when the Panorama was renamed Panorama I for the 1967 season, the less expensive “bread and butter” models became available on all chassis types as the Panorama II. The Panorama I in particular sold extremely well.

03 Mobile_cinema

Plaxton Panorama cab on a Bedford SB3 chassis mobile cinema unit

The Panorama cab was used in 1967 on a government commission of seven Bedford SB3 chassis mobile cinema units. With the height of these units being nearly 13 ft (4.0 m) the roof of the cab opens up into a very unusual looking perspex dome extension, somewhat altering the usual sleek lines of Plaxton’s Panorama. One of the seven units still remains in preservation, having been restored as a vintage mobile cinema.

1957 Albion Aberdonian with Plaxton B45F body , one of two delivered to Armstrongs of Ebchester


Plaxton launched a new design – the Panorama Elite – at the 1968 Commercial Motor Show in London. This essentially set the basic design of British coaches for the next 14 years. The design was stylish, with long sleek lines and gentle curve in the vertical plane. The windows were gasket glazed and the glass gently curved in the vertical plane to suit the body curve. The rear again used the large soup plate lights of the Panorama I, and the front grill was also from the Panorama I.

1957 Plaxton Consort bodied Bedford SB YWE 388


The Panorama II was still available until 1970 with a large batch built for Midland Red

The interior of The new Panorama Elite was to the usual high standard that everyone had come to expect from a leading coachbuilder like Plaxton. It made more use of laminate than before but this was tastefully specified & well balanced. The interior skirt panels, racks and front cabinet made extensive use of this easily worked & easy to maintain material. The analogue clock in the front dome was flanked either side by small square controllable air vents. The dashboard was improved and made use of a panel of rocker switches in front of the driver with each switch designation lighting for night time operation. Previous dashboards hid the switches in places inaccessible whilst moving. Ventilation was again improved though using the same design of moulded air output & light assembly as the final version of the Panorama I. The racks were trimmed with laminate instead of using vinyl like material from the previous design.

1958 Albion Aberdonian Plaxton Consort II C41F


The first major update of the Panorama Elite was unveiled at the 1970 Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court London. The changes though relatively subtle were very relevant to a product that had so far enjoyed wide acclaim and sale.

The Panorama Elite II range built on the success of the Panorama I and Panorama Elite. The front grill was squared up although it still used the same twin headlight layout. The first bay on the near side was tidied up so the top of the window was in line with all the other side windows. Parcel racks were redesigned so the supply of fresh air and light output was more readily available. The service units were now mounted front to back instead of side to side and were much slimmer to maximize on headroom when leaving the seats. Crash padding was provided along the inner side of the racks in the form of black PVC squares filled with padding. The dashboard was again improved as was the front cabinet. The rear of the vehicle still used the soup plates from the previous range.

1961 AEC 2MU3RV Reliance with Plaxton Highway DP41F body


The Panorama Elite III was the last in the Elite series. Improvements continued to the basic Elite design; this included rear lighting, rear emergency door and subtle changes to the front grill. The rear emergency door was brought about by changes in legislation and did improve the offside appearance of the Elite, however some early MkIIIs were completed with front emergency doors. The rear lights abandoned the soup plates in favour of tall lozenge shaped lights and the name badges were re-located from between the side bright metal strips at the back to the front just behind the front door.

1961 AEC 4MU3RA Reliance with Plaxton Panorama C44F body


All three marques of the Elite range were available with bus grant specification front doors and interiors, although this option was late for Panorama Elite and only a few built. It was however a very popular option for the MkII and MkIII. To complement this destination blinds were also available in both the front grille and on the roof or front dome for front radiator chassis. This became known as “the Bristol Dome” due to the popularity of orders from the National Bus Company for coaches on Bristol RELH and REMH chassis.

1961 Bedford J4 Plaxton Consort999-PPL


The major competitor for the Panorama Elite III was the Duple Dominant launched at the 1972 Commercial Motor Show in London. The Duple was of all steel design and built at Duple’s Blackpool factory. The Dominant had many of the design cues of the Panorama Elite and that could be because the managing director at that time was an ex Plaxton employee. The Dominant sold well but never caught up with the Elite. The mere fact that at the 1972 Commercial Motor Show only one Dominant was available due to a long strike at the Blackpool factory couldn’t have helped much. The launch of the Dominant was at Lake Guarda in Italy and was Duple’s most important launch for years.

By the time the final version of the Panorama Elite III was built around 6,000 of the Elite series bodies had been produced.

1961 Ford Thames 570E, Plaxton C41F coachwork was carried by 335, 335BWB


Development of a new coach range to supersede the Panorama Elite commenced in 1974 and was to be called Panorama Supreme, however the Panorama part was dropped in favour of simple Supreme. This series of bodies was to have a long development process as both the factory and work force wasn’t equipped for all-steel production at this stage.

1961 Ford Thames Trader57OE TRJ731 Plaxton C41F


At first the Supreme was designed to replace the ageing Panorama IV that was produced on the Bedford VAS and SB chassis for up to 41 passengers. The design for that coach went back to the Embassy body developed in the early 1960s. It had been re-vamped in the early 1970s and given an upright front and rear like the Elite III. Being front engined it had a centre door and still retained the Panorama I–style square cornered flat glass windows.

1962 Bussen Commer Commando Plaxton C30F seats


The Supreme was to herald (nearly) all steel construction. Wood fillets still held the panels in place and in some areas wood was sandwiched in “U” shaped steel. It would be 1978 before true all-steel construction was achieved.

Some early MkIII Supremes were all-metal. The body number of the all-metal versions had the final letters AM standing for “all-metal”. Many of the AM bodies were exported to Holland and Denmark, a fact supported by the 1977 Supreme brochure and the 1982 centenary book Plaxtons The Great British Coachbuilders.

1962 Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance 326


There was to be six marques of Supreme (Seven including Mini Supreme). Development was protracted as the builder was careful not to compromise their market leading position. Supreme I was a 29-seat coach on a Bedford VAS chassis with a standard Plaxton in-swing door located behind the front axle. Supreme II was on the 35 seat Bristol LHS chassis powered by a Leyland 400 series engine. The door located forward of the front axle in the usual place. Supreme III was the first full size coach although there seemed to be some development confusion and the actual marque of the initial standard length coaches is not clear however most of the late P and earlier R-reg bodies seemed to be the Mk III. There were no identifying numbers added to the badging.

1963 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton Embassy 20 seat


As styling development commenced it was realised that to design another coach to match the success of the Panorama Elite series was to be a challenge. Looking at the existing range of Panorama Elite III it was decided to use the Elite’s most striking feature, notably the size of the windows and the curves that departed in every direction. The front of the coach was to follow closely with Elite by utilising the same double headlights with a panel between them (although the centre panel depended on the chassis requirements). The slats again horizontal but were fewer in number and thicker. The sides of the grill were squared up and were of stainless steel and not aluminium. A chrome bumper with 5 mph (8.0 km/h) overriders at the bottom with two steps to allow access to the windscreen. Pantograph wipers with speed control were added. The dome was slatted on the early models but was not popular so was removed and simplified from Supreme IV. The side profile again had angles going in all directions although the main change to the side was that the windows curved into the cant rail almost like the Mercedes O302 bodies. The effect was to catch the light and highlighted the whole coach at roof level. The rear was like Panorama Elite with vertical lozenge shaped lights but the units themselves were slightly bigger, squared, more definite.

1963 Bedford VAL14 BMX296A with Plaxton Val C52F body


The interior had been updated with a new dashboard and a driver’s locker, non-reflective laminates and a re-designed front cabinet. The lift up roof vents and light clusters containing the speakers were almost like those of the final Panorama Elite III. Some very early Supremes had wood interior domes like Panorama Elite however this was changed from wood surrounding the clock to having ABS mouldings in black. The ceiling was of laminate that was bordered by chrome trim.

The racks though went through several important stages before the final design that would see Supreme through to the series.

1963 Plaxton Panorama Bedford VAL14


Rack design on Panorama Elite, II and III contained window demisters. Those racks were joined to the cant rail and laminate was used as trim to connect the window edge to the rack. On Supreme the first versions used the same technique but the racks were swaddled in crash protection on each side of the passenger service unit that was fitted front to back. The service unit used were the same as the Panorama Elite, two controllable vents and a reading light with a rocker switch. The cushioning had a four pointed star engraved into it at intervals. From the Mk III the racks had flatter sides that had no connection to the cant rail. The demisters were located on the edge of the rack within a laminate strip. The PVC or maybe ABS material that coated the underneath of the rack was usually black. This was the final design of rack and saw Supreme through to the end of the series. Those racks utilized flatter service units with eyeball vents and a flat lens on the reading light.


1963 bedford val-plaxton-panorama-uk

The Supreme Mk IV was introduced to the market at the International Motor Show at Birmingham in 1978. The main update was that construction was now all steel, frontal design was completely different from the past 14 years. The headlights were now rectangular and mounted above each other with side lights and indicators in the same cluster. The grill was not so prominent and various options were available as a package. So now the range consisted of Supreme IV, Supreme IV Express and Supreme IV GT. The GT option ushered in a distinctive grill design with a smart dual chrome flash, tinted windows and better sound system and soft trim to the ceiling to name a few “standard” extras.

1965 batch of Leyland Leopards with WA's specified centre-entrance Plaxton Panorama bodies


Supreme V had a completely different rear design showing the styling of the next range that was probably under development. Tall heavily featured light clusters that were tinted to look dark were fitted vertically between the boot lid. The rear window was a one piece design. The seat backs were no longer visible from outside the coach. The rear nearside had been tidied by removing the smaller windows. The improvements were also copied onto the high floor Viewmaster model with the exception of the shallow rear window.

1965 Bedford Val with Plaxton body


The Supreme was also manufactured as a semi-integral on a DAF chassis. Around 20 were built. They were rear engined and the rear panel design was different from the Supreme V as it has vents and had odd shaped moulding around the rear window. As a semi-integral the body was required to support the full weight as there were no chassis members to support the body. Opening the side lockers luggage could be piled in one side and extracted from the other as nothing was in the way so it was very cutting edge technology. It is said that 2 of these survive today. The bulk of the 20 were exported, mainly to the Netherlands, the left hand drive version had a tapered front to meet Dutch swept turning-circle requirements.

1965 Ford Thames 570E with Plaxton C41F bodywork purchased UK


Final Supreme offering was the Supreme VII and sometimes referred to as Jubilee Supreme. This model was the least successful Supreme being an option for one season alongside the Supreme V. The panoramic windows had been replaced by a higher window line that was better suited to the long distance market. Around 100 were built. The actual idea of the high window design was possibly in reaction to the Duple Dominant III that had shallow trapezoidal windows like an Austin Princess headlight of the mid-1970s.



The Supreme series like the Panorama I and Panorama Elite were simply a success from the outset winning many orders from small, national, and some international operators. It entered most fleets in large multiples. The export market was addressed with left hand drive versions, some modified for the Dutch market and at least one was built on Deutz chassis. The dynamic approach of Plaxtons relationship with their customers requirements was a huge factor in the success of the Supreme.

The Paramount era

Main article: Plaxton Paramount
04 Plaxton35004000

Plaxton Paramount 4000 and Paramount 3500

By the end of the 1970s the British coach scene was dominated by two similar vehicles – the Plaxton Supreme and the Duple Dominant. In the early 1980s coach services over 30 miles were deregulated and there was an increasing attempt by some operators to compete with the railways and airlines for express and intercity travel. As a result there was a move away from light-weight chassis by Bedford and Ford to heavier-duty chassis from Leyland and Volvo, and an emphasis on improved comfort and amenities. There was also a growing interest from operators in imports from Europe due to their stylish eye-catching designs that attracted passengers. In particular, designs from Neoplan and Van Hool received much attention.



In response, Plaxton returned to Ogle Design to create a new look for their coach products. The result was the Plaxton Paramount, which appeared at the 1982 British Motor Show. The Paramount was a squarer design than the Supreme, with cleaner lines, a flatter roof line and a distinctive “feature window” just behind the front wheelarch. The use of the “feature window” was a return to a trump card played by the Ogle-inspired Panorama/Panorama I first seen in 1964. From there the waistline sloped down to meet the deeper windscreen. Initially there were two versions, the Paramount 3200 (available in 8, 10, 11 and 12-metre lengths) and the high-floor Paramount 3500 (available in 11 and 12 metre lengths) to replace the successful Viewmaster. Around 30% of Mark I Paramounts were the 3500 high-floor option, a greater proportion than had been anticipated. The rear of both versions were similar to Supreme V and VI but all else was new.

1967 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton C20F bodywork


In 1984 the design was adapted to produce the Paramount 4000 double-decker coach, initially built on Neoplan underframes. The design later appeared on chassis by Volvo, Scania and DAF.



The Paramount II launched for the 1985 season brought a tidier frontal appearance. (See the picture with the Paramount 4000) Gone was the black plastic moulding below the windscreen and the “hole” like appearance of the centre of the grille between the lights. The rectangular headlights were retained within a bright silver like surround. Other modifications included deeper parcel racks that were capable of supporting air conditioning. A tweed like material was used to cover the interior skirt and a large part of the racks.


1969 Bedford-VAL-plaxton-panorama-ii-uk

A “low driver” option was available for the 3200. This was useful for touring however the driver lost the commanding view of the road ahead. The driver sat low in the body so the passengers have a better view ahead. The windscreen from the 3500 was used on this version of the 3200, the headlights being lower to the road than usual.

1986 saw the final and most elegant version of Paramount, the MkIII. According to brochures it was even stronger than the Paramount II. The sloping front window was gone and in its place a stepped front window that formed the first bay. In the glass Plaxton’s “castle” logo was etched, the rear window contained a blind like decal at the base with a castle badge in the centre. The dashboard consisted of a moulded cabinet, ceasing the use of wood and formica of earlier versions of Plaxton coaches since the Panorama’s. In the centre of the black finished cabinet was a large castle logo. Airline-style locker doors were now available on the parcel racks to further give a sleek appearance like a 747.

1970 Bedford Val Plaxton Dons Tour Brochure photo


In 1989 Plaxton responded to a request from the privatised National Express for a further version of Paramount III to be leased to its contractors by a joint venture of Plaxton, National Westminster Bank and National Express. The Paramount Expressliner was created from the MkIII Paramount on a Volvo chassis and was tailored to NBC’s specific requirements. NBC specification included a closed back with the double N logo etched into the fibre glass rear moulding. This period of coach design seemed to introduce the windowless rear as a design feature for most coaches.

Henlys and a new beginning

The mid-1980s brought difficult times for Plaxton. A decline in orders due to the economic climate was compounded by management and production problems. The seasonal nature of coach production made recruiting difficult. In March 1987 Plaxton was taken over by Kirkby Bus & Coach, who were Plaxton’s largest dealer. Kirkby soon invested in modernising the Scarborough factory and addressed some industrial relations problems. Kirkby also marketed the Hungarian Ikarus buses in the United Kingdom.

1970 Ford R226 with Plaxton Panorama Elite C49F bodywork


In 1989 Plaxtons bought Henlys, a company that included motor dealers and Coleman Milne, makers of hearses and limousines. The name of the company was changed to Plaxton Group PLC.

1970 PLAXTONS Pennine IV op SEDDON


In July 1989 Plaxton bought the manufacturing rights for the coach products of its main domestic competitor, Duple for £4 million. This included the jigs for the Duple 300 and the Duple 425 integral. Duple Services Ltd., the spares and repair business, was also purchased. The 320 was re-worked by Plaxtons at Scarborough later in 1989 and 25 were built and sold as the Plaxton 321. Many components from the Paramount were used both internally and externally. Identifying traits being the squared up wheel arches and Paramount side mouldings. The 321 was around £6,000 cheaper than a comparable Paramount III. Further batches were considered but it is not known if they were actually built. The 321 was only available from Kirkby. The 340 with the higher floor was considered but none were built. A modified version of the 425 design was introduced in 1991 and was built by Carrosserie Lorraine, a French coachbuilder Plaxton had recently purchased from Iveco. Only 12 vehicles were manufactured, and Carrosserie Lorraine was subsequently closed in 1992.

05 Arriva Guildford&West Surrey 3091 P291 FPK

The Dennis Dart, released in 1989, had been a runaway success, so in 1991 the Plaxton Pointer midibus was announced, this was quite a utilitarian, square body. This was followed by the Plaxton Verde, which Plaxton hoped would match the success of its smaller sister, but it failed to capture the market quite as much as the Pointer, and it was clear that the bus industry wasn’t buying 12m single-deckers in as large numbers any more. Later that year new coach bodies, the Plaxton Premiere and Plaxton Excalibur, were launched.

1971 AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite C30F body


In May 1992, after a management shake-up, the company was renamed Henlys Group PLC.

Henlys pursued a strategy of diversification and expansion through the 1990s. The established bus bodybuilder Northern Counties was bought in 1995 for £10 million. The UK bus and coach manufacturing business, trading under the Plaxton brand, continued to produce a range of bus and coach bodywork. It also owned one of the largest UK coach dealers, Kirkby, and provided after-sales services to coach and bus operators.


A Plaxton Premiere.

In August 2000 a joint venture was formed with Mayflower, owners of the Dennis and Alexander brands. The joint venture, known as TransBus International, included only the United Kingdom bus manufacturing operations of both companies, including Plaxton and Northern Counties. Henlys held a 30% stake in the joint venture, which employed 3,300 employees at seven locations. The traditional brands of Alexander, Dennis and Plaxton were replaced by TransBus International. In 2004 Mayflower Group failed, and TransBus International went into receivership. An initial offer from the Plaxton management to buy the coach segment of the company was rejected by the receiver, but was later accepted when a senior TransBus manager and a consortium from Scotland composed of Brian Souter, owner of Stagecoach Group, his sister Ann Gloag, David Murray and Noble Grossart, agreed to buy the Alexander Dennis portion of the company.

Independent again

Thus the new company, Plaxton Limited, re-emerged as an independent company, employing almost 300 people at its main coach plant in Scarborough and a further 59 at its facility in Anston, which builds small buses and coaches such as the Beaver and Cheetah.



In May 2005 Plaxton announced its return to the service bus market, launching the Centro, a low-floor single-deck vehicle initially to be offered on VDL SB120 chassis, in 10.7 m length, with the first bus completed in February 2006. The Centro is now available on the VDL SB180, VDL SB200, MAN 14.220 and Volvo B7RLE chassis, with 10.2 m and 12 m lengths also offered.

1972 AEC 6U3ZR Reliances with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D bodies


The company also revealed the Primo, a 28 seat low-floor minibus, in September 2005. This 7.9 m long vehicle is powered by the Cummins ISBe Euro III engine, mounted transversely at the rear. The Primo frame is assembled in Hungary by Enterprise Bus, effectively a conventional chassis in most respects but one which extends up to cantrail level, before being shipped to Scarborough for completion.

Purchase by Alexander Dennis

In May 2007 Plaxton was purchased by Alexander Dennis. But as of late 2008, the Centro bodywork remained in production alongside with Alexander Dennis’s Enviro200 Dart and Enviro300.

1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta


In 2008 the new Plaxton Elite was launched at Birmingham Euro Bus Expo and by 2011 had delivered 100 Elites. Originally based on the Volvo B12B chassis, it was later developed to suit the Volvo B9R and B13R chassis.



(All coach bodies unless noted)

  • Type A
  • D Series
  • Type F (full fronted)
  • Type J (half cab)
  • K Series
  • L Series
  • M Series
  • Q2
  • Envoy
  • Venturer I, II, III
  • Crusader Mk I, Mk II
  • Consort Mk I, Mk II, Mk III, Mk IV
  • Highway – (single deck bus)
  • Panorama
  • Embassy I, II, III, IV
  • Panorama I and Panorama II
  • Panorama Elite, Elite Express
  • Panorama Elite II, Elite Express II
  • Panorama Elite III, Elite Express III
  • Panorama IV (For Bedford SB and VAS)
  • Derwent, Derwent II (single deck bus)
  • Supreme I, II, III, IV, V, VI (1st version of Supreme for *Bristol LHS & Bedford PJK was to be known as Panorama Supreme)
  • Viewmaster (Britain’s first 3.5M coach)
  • Bustler – (single deck bus)
  • Paramount 3200, 3500, 4000, Mk I, Mk II, Mk III including low driving position option



  • Elite (12.6m and 14m)
  • Panther (12.8m and 15m) – for Volvo B8R, B9R, B10M, B11R, B12M, B12B and B13R, Dennis R-Series, MAN 18.310, Irisbus EuroRider and Scania K-series
  • Leopard – for Volvo B9R and Volvo B8R


1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta EPSON scanner image 29 seat Mercedes Plaxton Cheetah 33 seat Mercedes Plaxton Cheetah 1907 Plaxton model T Charabanc 1930. 37 Seater Bus-Coach Type A3 1946 Leyland Tiger Plaxton body 1948 AEC Regal lll 9621E418 Plaxton ha324z 1949 Plaxton Sentinel-2 1950 Bedford OB ETL221, Plaxton 29 seater coach with 28HP petrol engine 1952 Bussen Commer Avenger built in 1952 with Plaxton Envoy bodywork 1956 plaxton consort bus brochure Bedford 1957 AEC Reliance Plaxton Consort C41C bodied 1957 Albion Aberdonian with Plaxton B45F body , one of two delivered to Armstrongs of Ebchester 1957 Plaxton Consort bodied Bedford SB YWE 388 1958 Albion Aberdonian Plaxton Consort II C41F 1961 AEC 2MU3RV Reliance with Plaxton Highway DP41F body 1961 AEC 4MU3RA Reliance with Plaxton Panorama C44F body 1961 Bedford J4 Plaxton Consort999-PPL 1961 Ford Thames 570E, Plaxton C41F coachwork was carried by 335, 335BWB 1961 Ford Thames Trader57OE TRJ731 Plaxton C41F 1962 Bussen Commer Commando Plaxton C30F seats 1962 Plaxton bodied AEC Reliance 326 1963 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton Embassy 20 seat 1963 Bedford VAL14 BMX296A with Plaxton Val C52F body 1963 Plaxton Panorama Bedford VAL14 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1965 batch of Leyland Leopards with WA's specified centre-entrance Plaxton Panorama bodies 1965 Bedford Val with Plaxton body 1965 Ford Thames 570E with Plaxton C41F bodywork purchased UK 1965-bedford--panorama-bus-3 1966-bussen-commer-plaxton-venturer 1967 Bedford J2SZ10 with Plaxton C20F bodywork 1968-bedford--panorama-bus-2 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1970 Bedford Val Plaxton Dons Tour Brochure photo 1970 Ford R226 with Plaxton Panorama Elite C49F bodywork 1970 PLAXTONS Pennine IV op SEDDON 1971 AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite C30F body OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1972 AEC 6U3ZR Reliances with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D bodies 1972 Plaxton Malta Valletta 1972 Plaxton Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1972 Plaxton Panorama Leyland Malta 1973 Plaxton Panorama Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Panorama Bedford Malta 1974 Plaxton Panorama Elite Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1975 Plaxton Panorama Elite Bedford Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1975 Plaxton Supreme GB OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1976 Plaxton Bedford Malta 1976 Plaxton Derwent Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 1976 Plaxton Panorama UK 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme 80 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme Series 1977 PLAXTONS Supreme 1977 PLAXTONS Viewmaster 1978 Plaxton Malta 1978 Plaxton Panorama Ford Malta 1980 Plaxton Panorama Ford Malta OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA FOT1118113 1986 Plaxton Leyland UK 1989 Plaxton UK 1990 Plaxton Volvo F 1997 Plaxton Panorama  Bedford Malta 2002 Plaxton Paragon London 2005 Mercedes Vario Plaxton Beaver 2 SF05 FNW EPSON scanner image 2008 PlaxtonElite_061108_2 2009 Plaxton Panther London OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA 2012 Plaxton Elite i AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with a Plaxton Panorama Elite C45F body AEC 6U3ZR Reliance with Plaxton Panorama Elite II C49D body Arriva Guildford&West Surrey 3091 P291 FPK Bedford 20 seat Plaxton Embassy SONY DSC Bedford J2 Coach Bedford SBG with Plaxton Consort Bedford Val 14 Plaxton Panorama Coach