The Commercials : Leyland T45 Cruiser

Hot on the heels of the stylish Roadtrain, and replacing the Buffalo 2 range of meduim weight artics, was the T45 Cruiser launched in 1982.

Differing from the Roadtrain by only being offered with in-house power units and 4×2 axle configuration, Mike Humble tells the story.

Cruising the UK’s mean streets

Leyland Cruiser: this one was operated by Leyland Vehicles at the Bus Chassis Plant in Bristol

The Leyland truck portfolio of 1980 depicted a whole range of trucks borne out of a single new cab design – the Ogle designed and Motor Panels assembled T45 cab system. The Roadtrain was met with general praise for its sleek and good looking styling, sensible power options and general ease of repair and operating. So much so, that the Roadtrain was awarded the Truck Of The Year award for 1981.

The next model down in the artic range was the Buffalo 2 range which was the final model to be sold with the Leyland/AEC ergo-matic cab, which dated right back to the 1960s. The Buffalo had a traumatic lifespan which included the fitting of the amazing, yet woefully unreliable fixed-head 500-series turbo diesel.

Towards the end of its run, the Buffalo came good after being fitted with the new Leyland L11 or TL11 inline six – a development of the long serving 680-series 11.6-litre. Looking back today, it’s hard to imagine the damage that the 500 series power unit did to the reputation of Leyland trucks, but the 500 power unit certainly caused numerous lost customers who grew tired of Leyland seemingly forcing unproven technology upon them. The 680 became a respected engine, almost in the same league as Gardner’s 10.45-litre 6LX range, so the L & TL11 being heavily based on this outgoing engine was seen as a good thing by operators in general.

The Leyland Cruiser was a light weight tractor unit which competed in the lower 28 ton GVW sector sharing a similar chassis and driveline to the outgoing Buffalo, but using a smaller T45 cab in day or sleeper option shared with the Leyland Freighter. Initially, the Cruiser used the Leyland TL11 turbo diesel set to produce 210 or 230 bhp, though later vehicles would be offered with the TL11C rated at 260bhp. A Fuller RTO gearbox was the most common form of transmission with Leyland (Albion) produced hub reduction rear axle and large fleet buyers included Tesco Stores – Calor Gas and Royal Mail. The Cruiser was killed off following the Leyland DAF merger and subsequent relaxation of UK haulage GVW regulations.

Mike Humble


  1. Are you sure about the Brislington connection with that photo Mike? Brislington shut in 84, and the last bus chassis to leave there became A684KDV with Devon General I believe, and is now preserved. And the L11/TL11 were very troublesome engines, with legs out of bed being common, plus the T45 cab rusted like an absolute sod in true Leyland style.

  2. I never realised that there were all these variants on a T45 theme!  I love that orange Leyland livery.

  3. It was this colour on the bigger “Roadtrain” from the launch catalogue that impressed me so much to be a lorry driver as a kid… But got in to the Electricity distribution bussiness and had trips out in the “Freighter” delivering wood poles. Comfy cab ride compered to the Ford “D” series that it replaced.

  4. The restored Cruiser in the photo, B108 VKM, is owned by Brent’s Garage at Bishop Sutton, near Bristol. Enjoying this series!

  5. Hi,

    I am roberto Camilleri from malta and im really interested to buy a cruser . Please can you send some pictures of trucks that you have for sale or other dealers .

    i Thank you in anticipation

  6. That Cruiser is ex MOD, I spoke with Phillip Brent while he was restoring it. I think he chose the colours/name as he used to work for the Layland dealers in Bristol. His uncle had a rather tidy Leyland Leopard coach ex Eassons of Southampton which is now preserved

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