Buses : Leyland Tiger 20 years on!

Leyland’s last coach chassis, the Tiger – the company’s successor to the legendary Leopard – went out of production 20 years ago this year. The Tiger was also the last ‘heavyweight’ British coach to sell in big numbers and still has a loyal following to this day.

Mike Humble pays homage…

A 1984 Tiger Demonstrator with Plaxton Paramount 3500 body

Buses and coaches played as an important part in my childhood as cars did. Our next door neighbour was the Workshop Foreman of the local Municipal bus operator – Darlington Corporation – whilst, the company’s General Manager, Stuart Hyslop  – a man still working in the bus industry – lived at the end of our road. Occasionally, on summer evenings, my neighbour would take me down to the depot in his Princess 2200 for a tour.

I would be like a dog with two…. well, you know what I mean, at the sight and sounds of buses over the pits or on the ramps. Most of the fleet, with the exception of some Seddons and Dennis Dominators were from the British Leyland stable. Darlington ran one of the largest fleets of single deck Daimler Fleetlines in the UK and many of these were still operating when the company folded in 1994. However, my favourite buses in the fleet were the batch of four Duple Dominant Leyland Leopards bought new in 1977.

These Leylands were amazingly loud – their throaty cry was produced by the 11-litre 0.680 Flat Six power unit. Residents of one housing estate managed to get the Leopards banned from evening services as the noise would rattle windows, wake up babies and scare old ladies, but I totally adored them. The Leopard was the biggest selling heavyweight coach in the UK for all of the 1960s and 1970s – 90% of the National Express fleet in 1979 were Leyland Leopards with various types of coachwork.

However, by 1980, it was not uncommon to see imported coaches entering the UK market – back then Mercedes Benz were a tiny player but Volvo were gaining momentum with the B58 chassis as more operators wanted more power and became less hostile towards Johnny Foreigner. Leyland was losing ground and needed to come up with a vehicle which matched the opposition for quality and power. The 1980s also marked the end of Leyland’s dominance in the UK’s bus and coach market, but they put up a damn good fight.

One of the earliest examples was this Duple Leyland Tiger from 1981

The early 1980s were not the best of times for British Leyland as Sir Michael Edwardes was in full cry battling with the trade unions down in the Midlands car plants, but industrial strife never seemed to affect the truck and bus plants of Lancashire and Cumbria – they just seemed to get on quietly with  the task in hand. The 1981 Leyland Tiger was a heavily reworked Leopard with many improvements including air suspension, turb0charged engines and a totally new driver’s area.

The power unit was a horizontal version of the recently developed TL11 engine, itself born out of the world-renowned 0.680 Series. Output at launch was 220bhp but a 245bhp option came soon afterwards and, for 1984, the TL11 260 was available thus giving Leyland a fighting chance with Volvo, who were overtaking Leyland in sales terms by 1986. The mid-1980s saw Leyland offer a Gardner engine option designed with the Scottish Bus Group in mind because of that compny’s reluctance to use Leyland power units. Leyland initially declined to offer an optional turbocharged Gardner 6HLXC-T engine but, after Dennis sold a handful of Dorchester and Falcon coaches with this engine north of the Border, Leyland sat up and took notice.

Imported vehicles from companies such as Van Hool or Salvador Caetano were vastly better built and specified coaches, often being built on chassis from Daf, Mercedes Benz or Scania and the ever conquering Volvo. The importers were able to take full advantage of the recent Transport Act which permitted unrestricted, long distance coach journeys and which opened up the market to coach operators, enabling them to offer their own rostered services and tour work.

Leyland decided to take the plunge and develop their own integral high spec coach chassis which became known as the ‘Royal Tiger Doyen’. This high power, high spec rear-engined coach looked stunning and, to this day, remains a fresh and sleek design. Sadly, the Royal Tiger was a protracted and expensive machine to design. The foreign competition had been used to all integral coachwork for many years and was able to handle the many options or different specifications that customers dictated. Gone was the take it or leave it attitude from manufacturers as a more customer-orientated market place took hold.

Royal Tiger Doyen – A fine looking machine even today – and all Leyland’s own work too!

Leyland’s lack of bespoke luxury coach-building know how quickly became evident as delivery dates slipped and quality issues became known. These luxury vehicles were built in the Leeds factory of C.H. Roe. The plant had been very good at building standard vehicles to an excellent quality for many years but most of those had been standard bus bodies. The build of coaches is very different and problems with electrical systems and glazing along with lost orders through long build times eventually caused Leyland to re-think and move production to Lancashire. Unfortunately, by the time these vehicles became a sorted product, losses were high and orders were low – such a shame as the Tiger Doyen really was a match for the foreign competition. A total of just over 100 were built.

Subsequently, all Leyland coaches were to rely on bodies from outside companies, allowing Leyland to concentrate on what the company did best – building chassis. The company enjoyed considerable success with the Tiger right up to the late 1980s and, even though they couldn’t match Volvo for outright sales or European back up, this did not stop Leyland from constantly improving the vehicle from both a driver’s and an operator’s point of view.

The horizontal Leyland TL11 engine powered the coach from 1981 to 1988

Leyland Bus became a standalone company following the Government’s privatisation of Leyland Truck and Bus. The truck side was merged into Daf whilst, after much turmoil, Leyland Bus was purchased via an MBO (Management Buy-Out) albeit a short lived one. One of the problems that Leyland Bus now faced was engine supply –  the vertical TL11 engine was designed and built at the foundry of the Truck plant. However, for its fitment in the Tiger, the horizontal version for a coach was expensive and made in penny numbers compared to the truck unit. Soon after the MBO, it was announced that the TL11, itself a direct relation to the legendary 0.680 engine, was to be discontinued for the 1988 market.

29 years old and still in daily service – A Plaxton Supreme 6 Tiger 245

The famous Leyland semi-automatic gearbox was also a very costly unit to produce and this too was deleted from the range. Cummins L10 engines were to be fitted to all Tiger chassis from 1988 along with a manual or fully automatic ZF transmission. The world famous Cummins L10 engine pitched Leyland high up in the power stakes as against its rivals in one fell swoop – the engine could be rated up to 290bhp and its fuel economy was first class.

The Tiger was the backbone of National Express for most of the 1980s

More operators were venturing overseas and Leyland Bus, now a small fish in a big pond with its new independence, suffered in a global market place as operators became ever more concerned regarding Leyland’s cover and back up on the continent while European rivals were quick and keen to exploit it. Volvo had overtaken Leyland in sales with its ever improving B10M chassis though the Tiger continued to be the second most popular heavyweight coach. Competitors like DAF, MAN and Volvo were far better placed to provide cover and breakdown in mainland Europe.

The coach product from Leyland continued to be a good machine but Leyland could simply no longer afford to give heavy discounts in order to gain business and, as a consequence, losses mounted. A major form of cost cutting came in the use of parts, the rear axle from Rockwell was changed to a hub reduction Leyland U23 unit which was shared with the Lynx bus. This also allowed for a shallower boot floor and giving more luggage space in coach versions. The alternator and other ancillary drives became belt driven to save cost and weight, while the air cleaning system was improved and re-mounted cutting noise levels.

Volvo Truck and Bus bought Leyland Bus from its management in 1988 – some say it was to buy up the competition. Volvo announced in the same year that the B10M chassis was to be built here in the UK alongside the Tiger. Quality improved as Leyland adopted Volvo’s then unique “dock” system of assembly. For the final two years of production, a Volvo 9.6 litre engine was offered with Ireland taking the majority of these.  The last of the Cummins-engined Leyland Tigers were some of the best coaches I personally ever drove. Ask any seasoned Coach Drivers about the Tiger and, more often than not, they will remember its power, handling and ride with fondness. The final chassis were assembled in 1991.

TIMELINE: 1981 – 1991

2 axle bus or coach chassis (3 axle for Australian market)

ENGINE OPTIONS: Leyland TL11 – Cummins L10 – Gardner 6HLX-CT or Volvo THD100.  170 to 290bhp

TRANSMISSION: Leyland fully or semi-auto – ZF manual or auto

MAIN RIVALS: Volvo B10M – DAF MB230 – Dennis Javelin

Mike Humble

Mike Humble

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade.

Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications
Mike Humble
Posted in: Essays, The bus section
Mike Humble

About the Author:

Upon leaving school, Mike was destined to work on the Railway but cars were his first love. An apprenticeship in a large family Ford dealer was his first forray into the dark and seedy world of the motor trade. Moving on to Rover and then PSV / HGV, he has circumnavigated most departments of dealerships including parts, service and latterly - the showroom. Mike has owned all sorts of rubbish from Lada to Leyland and also holds both Heavy Goods & Public Service Vehicle licences, he buys & sells buses and coaches during the week. Mike runs his own automotive web site and writes for a number of motoring or commercial vehicle themed publications

53 Comments on "Buses : Leyland Tiger 20 years on!"

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  1. Maestros Maestro says:

    Another bus article! I don’t mean to be nasty but I think this is probably of very peripheral interest to most of this site’s regulars – I wouldn’t know one end of a Leyland Platypus from the other. Stick to what you do best – cars!

  2. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    AROnline’s Editor and Proprietor, Keith Adams, wants to include articles about Leyland Truck and Bus on the website – he believes that they are of relevance to the BMC>MG story because the profits made by Leyland Truck and Bus during the 1970s and early 1980s effectively helped to keep car production going.

    Previous Truck and Bus articles have generated pretty significant numbers of Readers’ Comments. That said, you can’t please everyone!

  3. All Forms Of Transport Geek says:

    @Mike Humble
    Keep publishing stuff like this. The fall of Leyland Truck and Bus is an even sadder tale than the cars business as they had a much better chance of competing without the loss-making volume car operation.

  4. David 3500 says:

    I am someone who does not know much about Leyland buses (although I have always admired the clean, elegant lines of the National 2 single-decker and Olympia double-decker), so do I take it that production of all Leyland buses and coaches ended in 1991? In other words, none of these were developed further by Volvo for its own use?

  5. Jonathan Carling Jonathan Carling says:

    Keep the truck and bus stuff coming – it’s a relevant and interesting part of the BL story.

  6. Craig Tetlow says:

    Yes, definitely keep the bus and truck articles coming. My interest in trucks and buses is nowhere near the same level as cars but their history during the British Leyland era must surely be as relevant as it’s sad.

  7. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @David 3500
    The bus chassis of the Olympian and Lynx continued up to 1993 in Leyland form. Volvo officially wound Leyland up in the same year but continued to produce the Olympian as a Volvo for some years afterwards in Irvine.

    More to come on this subject as time allows!

  8. Andycolm says:

    Another vote for the heavy stuff Mike… Keep it coming.

  9. Simon Woodward says:

    I like the diversity – I know zilch about buses and trucks but am always willing to learn something new. Keep these articles coming – they are what makes this an interesting site.

  10. RobGT says:

    Another positive vote for including the buses and trucks – I like the variety and they were part of Leyland, so why not? It’s interesting to me because, like others who have commented, I don’t know much about them but had a great uncle who loved them so it’s a nice memory of him when I read articles like this one.

    Keep up the great work!

  11. Will says:

    Ulsterbus still runs the occasional Alexander-bodied bus – usually as spare or hire buses. They have also replaced a few of their Leopard cousins and have got one with a truncated body for engineering use, including towing duties!

  12. Mikey C says:

    An excellent article…

    British bus and coach makers always seemed happier producing basic, cheap and cheerful vehicles – think back to the ropey Bedford coach chassis of the 1960s and 1970s especially – so perhaps it’s not surprising they were caught out by the move to more upmarket vehicles, capable of long pan-European journeys.

    I never understood the logic of selling Leyland Bus in a separate MBO – if the division had stayed with Leyland Trucks and merged with DAF none of the supply problems would have occurred and it would have had the European partner it needed.

    It’s sad that virtually the only bit of Leyland Bus to survive is the former Roe plant (mentioned here) that’s now part of Optare.

  13. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @Mikey C
    The MBO was all about British pride. General Motors had been after Leyland Truck and Bus for sometime back in the 1980s in an attempt to re-vitalise its ageing range. However, at this time, the Government was looking to split up and privatise the Austin Rover Group at any cost.

    GM stated they would take Leyland but also wanted Land Rover. Thatcher said “no” and GM offered a deal or no deal option. The loss of Land Rover to those “damn Yanks” was too much for purists within Whitehall to take and, as a consequence, the deal died.

    Ian McKinnon (Leyland’s MBO-leading Managing Director) quickly pushed forward with the MBO which lasted 18 months. He had courted Volvo for some years trying to get them on board and he eventually succeeded

    Many say that McIver did that to line his own pockets. However, just as with Mr. Towers and MG Rover, he kept an awful lot of people in work for a good few years longer than the other options might have done.

    Another point of note is that Volvo stood by the warranty claims that flooded in from British Rail owing to the dreadful Railcar which Leyland built – this alone would have sunk Leyland costs-wise. Volvo also carried on parts supply and aftersales support for many years.

  14. Stuart says:

    I agree with the majority – articles like this are really interesting especially to a non-PCV driving nerd such as myself!! Please keep them coming.

    I have fond childhood memories of riding around on a wide variety of Leyland, Bristol and Bedford buses and coaches on various school trips, “trips into town” and communting to college!

    Indeed, as a fresh-faced 15 year-old, I was also given a tour of Lawrence Hill Bus Depot in Bristol in 1989 and, in the days before ‘elf and safety’, I was given permission to poke around under a brand new (at the time) Leyland Olympian and a Lynx – fascinating stuff.

  15. Scott Hutchings says:

    Another vote from me to keep the heavy stuff coming. Hopefully, this will also eventually include all the buses, trucks and commercial vehicles which Leyland built its reputation on before it was sadly dragged down by the volume car business.

    One small point Mike – there was also a batch of Tigers built for Ulsterbus/Citybus in Northern Ireland which had Volvo engines. I guess, though, that these were more buses than coaches – apart from that, an excellent article.

  16. Adrian says:

    A good article… Would it be worth having a separate section of the website for commercial vehicles and buses/coaches?

  17. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @Adrian
    That’s the plan, Adrian.

  18. Will says:

    @Scott Hutchings
    The Volvo-engined Tigers were mostly Alexander Q type bodies (although there were some early N types) which looked very modern and felt very coach-like at a time when a lot of the Ulsterbus fleet were still Bristol REs or Leyland Leopards!

    AROnline readers can find out more about the Ulsterbus/Citybus Tigers by following this link to the relevant page on Irish Transport Heritage Limited’s website.

  19. Mikey C says:

    @Mike Humble
    Thanks, I never realised that the warranty claims for the railbuses were potentially fatal for the company. Was this why they never became part of Leyland Daf?

    I thought, at the time, that it seemed strange to see Leyland Daf (via its Daf bus arm) competing against Leyland Buses, especially with the Optare Spectra bodied by the former Roe plant!

  20. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @Mikey C
    Oh, yes! The first generation Leyland railbuses were notorious for failure of the transmission and the TL11 underfloor engine had a knack of going pop.

    The rail engines would spend long times at idle between services (for periods of over an hour) building up carbon deposits which would then cause hot spots in the cylinders when worked hard.

    The transmission was also not really up to the job. The situation got so bad that BR almost took Leyland to court over loss of revenue. A similar situation arose more recently between Bombardier and Virgin Trains over the Voyager fleet.

  21. Justin Ferguson says:

    An interesting and well-researched article! I own the sister vehicle (CBM 13X) to CBM 12X which is pictured in the article. Both vehicles were supplied new to Premier Albanian Coaches in 1982. 13X featured in The League of Gentlemen. Both vehicles had ZF manual boxes and TL11 245 engines. They had Plaxton Supreme bodies built to an extremely high specification.

    I think it is great that you comment on the coach products as I am also an owner of a goodly number of BMC>MGR models: Marina TC, Dolomite Sprint, MGC, Rover 3500 Vitesse, A40 Farina, two two-door Range Rovers, Rover 216, two Rover 75 2.5 KV6, Daimler Double-Six. I also have a Royal Tiger Doyen coach.

    The Jaguar X300 XJ-R and Daimler Majestic Major probably don’t count, although they “bookend” the Leyland days in a way! I’m so interested in all things Leyland and its derivatives, coaches, trucks, cars, tractors and even the Class 141, 142 and 155 railbuses!

  22. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @Justin Ferguson
    I remember seeing CBM 13X at Central Milton Keynes Railway Station doing rail replacement work for Virgin Trains two years ago – quite a feat for a Scottish-based coach which was, at the time, owned by Western SMT.

    CBM 12X passed to Empress Coaches of Hastings for a short while. Steve Dine, the owner of that business, is a client of mine and remembers the coach with fondness.

    Last year, I did an airport transfer from Gatwick to Manchester and a return load following the Ash cloud scenario. She never missed a beat and drew a small crowd of ground staff and National Express drivers – the passengers loved it.

    The Tiger was a “drivers,” coach, suffice to say, you had to master them – if you could do so, they were an excellent machine to pilot with a soundtrack to die for!

    I’m glad you liked the article and, if you live close to me (Horsham, West Sussex) drop me an e-mail – I would love to have a turn in your Doyen!

  23. Adrian says:

    Wasn’t it an Olympian coach which ended up teetering on the edge of an alpine precipice at the end of The Italian Job film?

  24. Mike Humble Mike Humble says:

    @Adrian
    Actually, a Harrington Legionnaire-bodied Bedford VAL was used in The Itallian Job – but it did have a Leyland 400 diesel fitted!

  25. Steve Moore says:

    Please keep the Leyland Bus and Truck-related articles coming. I have a great interest in all things Leyland – I started as an apprentice at British Leyland (Jaguar).

  26. Steven Oliver says:

    A mention has to be made of the four Volvo-engined Leyland Tigers which were delivered to the then recently-privatised Lowland Omnibuses in 1991. The company was on the lookout for new vehicles for the Edinburgh – Carlisle rail link service and took a look at one of the vehicles destined for Ireland.

    Lowland needed its new buses in a hurry and so Ulsterbus (for which the vehicle was destined for) agreed to sell four chassis from stock to Lowland, provided that they also took the bodies which came with them. The buses entered service with Lowland in September 1991 as their 301-304 (J301-304ASH) and my recollection is of them being very quick machines, especially once on the open road.

  27. Justin Ferguson says:

    @Mike Humble
    I was a bit mystified by the Western SMT livery that it’s pictured in at MK station, because it has since turned out that CBM 13X was new to a Watford company called Premier Albanian – Albanian signifying St Albans as opposed to Albania! I have a picture of it new at the Coach Show in 1982 and it also featured heavily in an episode of The League of Gentlemen where it is still in Premier Albanian livery.

    There are internal and external shots and the inside is exactly as it is to this day. When we took the vinyl off the “Bristol” dome and the rear illuminated panel, the Premier Albanian glass signage was still there. I then looked at the destination blind and, apart from the usual Private Hire, it shows various destination around the area, such as Southend.

    I managed to get a secondhand book from the mid-1980s on Premier Albanian and the coach is pictured along with CBM12X on the back cover.

    The Western Scottish livery is therfore a mystery. Did they buy it secondhand at some point or is it a ruse by a former operator? I am mindful that Western SMT itself disappeared not long after the coach was new so I am given to think it was a hypathetical livery used more recently.

    Anyway, the coach is shortly to be resprayed (preperation is well underway) and it will revert back to its original Premier Albanian livery. This was a deep red and cream and looked very fetching in its day. The lamps in the illuminated signs still work and are in excellent condition. The TL11-engined Plaxton/Tiger is a fine machine and I am very glad I preserved her!

    Incidentally, on a seperate subject, the WEL 115J BMC/Austin VA British Road Services “Noddyvan” has been out to a few shows this year, including Leyland Festival and Keighley Bus Museum Festival of Transport. There are various pictures of it out and about on Google Images.

    A final point: I have an Austin A40, Marina TC Coupe, Dolomite Sprint, Daimler Double-Six, Rover SD1 Vitesse, 1981 two door Range Rover and MGC all in roadworthy condition and the pleasent weather of the Summer has allowed me to use something British Leyland, BMC or a derivative every day since April. Happy days!!!

  28. Justin Ferguson says:

    By the way, on a more general subject, I see the Leyland “heavy stuff” as a totallly integrated part of the whole BL/ARG story, because Leyland Motors acquired Standard Triumph quite early on and subsequently ended up merging with BMC at the end of the 1960s.

    Lord Donald Stokes of Leyland Motors becaming Chairman of the whole conglomerate and so Leyland Motors had a fundamental part in the formation of British Leyland. The split-up of British Leyland lead to Leyland Truck being sold to DAF, who eventually sold it to Paccar and Leyland Trucks still assemble 70 or so vehicles a day at Leyland.

    Arguably, the Austin Rover Group element owes much of its heritage to the BMC business but the ownership of Standard Triumph and its influence on the former BMC business was profound.

    Incidentally, Leyland Ashok of India still use the Leyland “whirling wheel” trademark and 7 Leyland 155 class Sprinter trains as well as a large number of 142 railbuses are still heavily used in the West Yorkshire passenger transport area. Both classes were built by Leyland at the Workington factory, alongside the National Bus and later Royal Tiger coaches.

    Anyway, it’s good to see so much Leyland Commercial Vehicle chat on the forum! Let’s face it British Leyland covered a vast range of vehicle types, from roadrollers and earthmoving equipment through tractors to trains, and that’s one of the things I find so fascinating about the company.

  29. HILTON DAVIS says:

    These Leyland Tigers all look good in all ages and coachwork styles

  30. Keith Clement says:

    I am researching a band composer, Goff Richards, who died in June. One composition called ‘Doyen’ was allegedly written to commemorate the launch of British Leyland Tiger Doyen. Can anyone confirm this and provide extra details please?
    Keith Clement

  31. Keith Clement says:

    What do you mean – moderation?

  32. Marty B says:

    The last remnants of the Leyland Bus empire are now history. Optare has moved out of the old Charlie Roe plant on Manston Lane, Cross Gates recently, into a new huge factory in Sherburn in Elmet. Ironic that Optare is now part of the Hinduja brothers empire, under the Ashok Leyland wing. I’ve driven Tigers/Lynxes/Nationals/Olympians/Leopards/Atlanteans, and apart from the Lynx, they all seemed to be OK tools for the job. Gearboxes seemed to be a weakness though, especially the Hydracyclic with higher engine ratings.
    Hopefully in 2012 I will be able to sort a Lynx article for here, with help of my friend who owns the very first production example with Leyland body.

  33. Ian says:

    Keep the bus and truck division articles coming. Maybe even the mysterious sounding ‘Special Vehicles’ division, although i’m certain thats just Tractors and Aveling Barford.

    Great work!

  34. Johntheoily says:

    Great write up, very informative to somebody interested in anything with wheels and an engine.

  35. Justin Ferguson says:

    There was indeed a piece called Doyen written for Brass Bnd and it was named after the integral oach of the same name. From memory it wass a contest march and a good one at that. I suspect it was written for Leyland Vehicles Band, then conducted by Richard Evans back in the 80’s. I might be wrong on that particular point.

  36. Justin Ferguson says:

    The Leyland Tiger CBM13X formerly of Premier Albanian is now back on the road – repainted and with a new MOT. Its first official outing is the HCVS Transpennine Run on Sunday August 5th 2012. On trials this vehicle is proving to be smooth running with a wonderful air sprung ride, immensely powerful and with a very satisfying Leyland TL11 growl.

  37. Will M says:

    Just the other day I saw an Alexander Leyland Tiger with a newly truncated body as an engineering vehicle beside a broken down Wright Volvo double decker.

    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5261/5626953509_1506215a70.jpg

  38. Most informative article, many thanks for it. Our preservation group has B610VWU a tiger/paramount expressliner. The Leyland bits all work wonderfully, but the Plaxton body has the severe rot that you might expect.

    She has the semi auto hydracyclic box that you mention too.

    Thanks again

  39. Red Rover says:

    Wow – what a find. I remember when CBM12 and 13 were delivered new to Premier in Watford. At the time, there was an association to Smiths of Rickmansworth, who provided our school coach transport from Amersham to Great Missenden in Bucks. Can you imagine using this fine vehicle with a load of teenage school kids! we werent allowed to touch anything – just sit on the seats -couldnt even have the usual sneaky fag on the way home! However, compared to other offerings from other operators, 12 and 13 both stood out from the crowd in the bus park! Not sure if it was 12 or 13, but one of these fine machines had tables fitted from new……

  40. Adrian says:

    What was it with the enormous lights these coaches had? These days all coaches seem to have LED lights about the size of a 10p piece..

  41. SIMON DRAKE says:

    The Leyland Tiger was probably the most pleasant vehicle I have driven, the ones I drove had semi-auto boxes (apart from one that had a ghastly automatic top, the times that caught me out changing up from 4th to … 4th because it demanded the engine be revving higher than I liked to change up. The ride and handling was infinitely better than the B10M that, until the advent of the electronically controlled Mk4 in around 1996, had a nasty wallowing ride that was good for inducing travel sickness. The TL11 engine was tuneful too!The cab layout was far better too, being common to the National 2 and Olympian (also both enjoyable to drive). A good Atlantean or Leopard was nice too, though controls were scattered and most were well past their best when I drove them. Drivers now have none of the satisfaction of getting a smooth change from the semi auto box, it took skill, especially those with the direct air operation ( as opposed to the electro pneumatic operation used on most types)as there was a distinct delay between moving the lever and anything happening – and it varied from bus to bus, so each one demanded a different technique. Never, though, the all to common practice of slamming the lever through the gate under full throttle, which I suspect was partly the cause of the demise of semi auto boxes.

  42. Adrian says:

    I’m still earning with Tigers, albeit a bog-spec leaf-spring version for the most part. It’s decent… good manual box, higher-rated TL11 transplanted from a proper one so it goes well and sounds pretty good. Less satisfying overall than a nice Leopard but a full air-sprung Tiger coach, preferably with semi-auto box, is indeed a lovely drive. Personally, I prefer the Leyland-engined to the later Cummins as

    1/ it sounds much nicer
    2/ is Leyland and
    3/ is far less likely to be afflicted with a jerky and hyperactive ZF autobox.

    Agree with Simon above regarding semi-auto driving technique. Properly driven, they gave an excellent smooth change but were often just banged through the gate mercilessly with foot hard down which made them almost – but not quite – as unpleasant to ride on as Dennis Darts.

  43. Paul says:

    Pioneer Tiger Van Hool FRN 816W, the only survivor of the three Tigers used at the lavish and expensive launch in Morocco, is owned by a friend of mine. She needs quite a bit of tlc to return her to the road, but hopefully she will. I ll give him a hand when my Atlantean is done..

  44. Steven Oliver says:

    The Volvo-engined Tiger output was almost exclusively for Ulsterbus and Citybus in Northern Ireland, Volvo being unwilling to make this combination available on the open market. During 1991 Lowland, one of the Scottish Bus Group companies formed in 1965 out of the Borders and East Lothian operations of Eastern Scottish and by then in private ownership took one of the Ulsterbus vehicles on trial and liked what they saw. As Volvo had already said ‘no’, Lowland approached Usaterbus and asked if they could buy four Volvo-engined Tiger chassis. Ulsterbus agreed, provided that Lowland also took the bodied which came with with them, and what became J301-4ASH, the UK mainland’s only Volvo-engined Tigers to be supplied new entered service with Lowland in September 1991; they were also the last new Tigers to enter service in Scotland. They had high-back seats and were to full Ulsterbus spec, albeit with Lowland interior trim and had orange handrails rather than the blus ones on the Northern Irish vehicles.

    I believe Volvo weren’t too happy when they found out what had happened, but there was little they could do about it!

  45. Will M says:

    @Steven Oliver

    Interesting detail!

    Found a picture based on that numberplate –

    J301 ASH

    It looks pure Ulsterbus Alexander Q type Volvo engined Tiger!
    (Other than the colour scheme)

  46. Steven Oliver says:

    They were more or less Ulsterbus spec although the interior trim, handrails and Formica were specified. Two were based at Galashiels (301/2) and one at Hawick (303) for service 95 between Edinburgh, Hawick and Carlisle with the fourth one (304) based at Peebles for service 62 between Edinburgh, Peebles, Galashiels and Melrose. That photo would have been taken not long after the bus was new.

    They were very fast machines. I remember travelling on 301 on Easter Saturday in 1993 from Edinburgh to Galashiels on the 95. It was running 20 minutes late and the driver managed to get to Galashiels from Edinburgh in just over an hour – the usual time for that journey was 80 minutes.

  47. leonardo says:

    HOLA TENGO 2 LEYLAND ROYAL TIGER FUNCIONANDO,soy un adicto a esta marca. saludos

  48. leonardo says:

    hola tengo 2 leyland royal tiger,con caja wilson funcionando- saludos

  49. William young says:

    I,’ve a 85 Alexander n type tl11 tiger in preservation and it drives like new although dead on the hills. Loved reading all the comments on Leyland bus and coach

  50. Ol says:

    I love reading about the heavy stuff too, Nationals and VRTs are evocative of my childhood and Leyland trucks have a special place in my heart. A 265 rolls engined Roadtrain was the first truck I ever drove.

  51. Nick Warner (Warner Bus & Coach) says:

    Mike makes some very valid points in this article. As an operator whoran one of the first Tigers (a 218bhp pneoumo) , 245 hydras, and zf’s and finally L10 with ZF 5HP we could not find a better chassis. We had an excellent working relationship with leyland bus, having also purchased at least 6 Royal Tigers, including the last 2 Charles Roe built vehicles. We also purchased 4 demo Tigers from the demo fleet. We owned over 50 Tigers/Royals in 25 years. Volvo of course built their failure, the C10M , a copy of the royal tiger. It did not sell, and for this reason they purchased the assets of Leyland Bus for nothing. A week later all the jigs for Royal Tiger were in the skip at Workington, as they did not want to build it. It was a fine machine, and the Tiger and Royals were every bit as good as a B10M. A bit agricultural, but they worked. As mike states, the Cummins version was perfect. The ironic thing was that Volvo was run in the UK, by an ex Leyland Bus sales guy, a great bloke, Mick Ball. Had he been there from the outset, we probably would have still had a version of a Royal Tiger today.

  52. You mention FRN 816W, we had the other demo WBV541Y. I drove FRN it was a lovely vehicle and was the first Hydracyclic Demo, WBV being the ZF manual. I have the training video, on ‘how to drive a Leyland Tiger’ that features both these vehicles.

  53. GusB says:

    I too have fond memories of the Tiger. My local operator (Northern Scottish) had a couple of batches with the Alexander P-type body, and while I wasn’t so keen on the second (Gardner-powered) batch, those fitted with the TL11 (A112-118ESA) could provide an exhilarating journey in the hands of the right driver.

    Undoubtedly, my favourite machine was KSL41X (then registered 1412NE), the former Aberdeen team coach. This one had a ZF manual box instead of the semi-auto, and it could fairly shift.

    In this age of the Enviro 200, I do miss the sounds of the past, but fortunately we have dedicated preservationists to keep them alive.

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