Lyme Park A bus whose time had not yet come

Lyme Park Photo: a fantastic Lyme Park Photograph Featuring A bus whose time had not yet come

Photograph Taken On Friday, August 1, 1980

Until the 1970s, a Volvo bus was a very rare beast in the United Kingdom. Until that date and just as with cars and lorries, home grown British manufacturers dominated. But mergers and consolidation, leading to the creation of the mammoth British Leyland Motor Corporation, led to customers becoming nervous about this new virtual monopoly that was plagued with industrial action and consequent delays and shortages. Two Scottish entrepreneurs, Jim McKelvie and Jim Keyden, set up a business to import Volvo commercial vehicles. Their best sellers were the F86 truck and the B58 coach chassis, but they lacked a true low-floor double bus chassis. So they effectively created one at their Irvine site and it was known as the Volvo B55 'Ailsa'. Unlike the competition it had a front engine, next to the driver: this had been tried once before, in the disastrous Guy 'Wulfrunian' design but instead of a big Gardner engine, the Volvo had a smaller turbocharged Volvo unit. Greater Manchester Transport was one of many operators who were wary of the British Leyland monopoly, and they tried the Volvo B55 - including number 1446 which was taken to Lyme Park for an official photo. The interior layout was quirky, with no front offside seat upstairs, and the driver had an outside cab door because of the engine. GMT decided that the the type wasn't for them but Volvo went on to have the last laugh - its business grew to the extent that it eventually bought the Leyland Bus remnant of the British Leyland empire, and today is one of the biggest suppliers of bus and coach chassis in the UK. If you'd like to know more about the Museum of Transport Greater Manchester and its collection of vintage buses, go to © Greater Manchester Transport Society. All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction is strictly prohibited and may result in action being taken to protect the intellectual property interests of the Society.View image on Flickr

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