- A standard bus for NSW was a Bedford / CCMC or in Victoria a Bedford / Comair?
- Lantern windscreens were all the rage. Air-conditioning was “jet air”?
- If you wanted a heavy-duty bus – you thought of a Leyland or AEC?
- A minibus was an Austin 2.45F or a BMC with Mee or Hedges bodywork?
- Bodybuilders like Cheetham & Borwick and Shuttlewood were still around?
Since 1936 the premier journal for the truck and bus industry within Australia has been Truck and Bus Transportation published by Shennan Publishing in Sydney. Truck & Bus Transportation (T&BT) is an excellent record of the development of road transport and allied industries in Australia since the 1930s to the present day. I have been fortunate enough to have acquired some sets of T&BT dating back to the early 1960s and this article will be the first of a series that looks back through selected years at the changing bus and coach scene in Australia.
Vol. 36 no. 2 (February 1972)
Selecting this issue at random, I first note the front cover features a magnificent portrait colour photograph of well-known Melbourne operator Sinclair’s and their latest acquisition – (42) a Hino RC320P with Freighter ‘Moonraker’ style coachwork. The night scene depicts the coach parked in the forecourt of the Adelaide Park Royal Hotel. Coincidentally a report on this coach appears in this issue on page 57. The article summaries the key features of the coach including the new ventilation system built around the prominent forward sloping raised header.
One interesting aspect of back issues of T&BT are the advertisements for long departed bodybuilders or chassis manufacturers. In this issue Bedford had an 8-page liftout advertisement detailing their current truck and bus models. On the bus side three monotone photographs of current bus chassis on offer are included – a Bedford VAL / CCMC from Watts of Wollongong, a SB3 / Comair from the Sitch Bus Lines fleet and a Grenda’s / Comair VAM.
On page 19 Athol Hedges ran a full page advertisement for their ‘Starliner’ and ‘Super Starliner’ models which proudly incorporated features and statements such as ‘futuristic styling will be in vogue long after others become old fashioned’ and ‘revolutionary new Vista-Vision windscreen’. Pictured was MO5335 Bedford VAM for Patterson’s Coaches of Young.
Opposite on page 18 the regular section ‘Spotlight on Transport Events’ MO3429 a Hino RC3206 with MBS bodywork for E.D. & V. Davis of Tamworth is pictured. The caption states that the seats have been raised by one inch to enable school bags to be placed underneath and in addition the seats have been widened for additional comfort as well to allow three across seating for students.
Further down the page an article about a request from the then Secretary of the BCSV, the late John Masterton a well known enthusiast and operator, to seek storage space for a number of recently acquired historic vehicles.
Pages 60-61 contains a double-page advertisement from A. B. Denning illustrating a new coach built for Grenda’s on a Mercedes O302 chassis. The advertisement contains a wealth of technical information about the body construction and interior finish. This included laminex side walls, vinyl covered luggage racks, and one piece sheet rubber floor and chrome ashtrays.
A feature article focuses on the North Queensland transport scene from Cape York down to Rockhampton. The author visited the area before a devastating cyclone. Photographs of buses included representatives from Bowen Bus Service (which operated various Bedfords and Ford Thames), Queensland Scenic Tours’ Mee bodied Bedford VAM (an almost identical unit to Hawthorn Bus Service’s No.1) and West End Bus Service’ CAC bodied OB Bedford from Townsville.
The ‘Bus Deliveries’ section lists some interesting deliveries including:
- Four Ansair bodied Fords for Ansett Airlines in Melbourne
- Three Denning 39 seat coaches for Greyhound
- Twelve Denning bodied 45 seat route buses for the Metropolitan Transport Trust in South Australia.
- A Mee bodied Bedford for Hi-Way Busways of Newport
- A Superior bodied BMC for Pittwater Bus Service of Palm Beach in NSW
- A Freighter (SA) bodied Hino GM for Pendles Riverland Coachlines of Renmark
- Two Albions with CCMC 46 seat bodywork for Hunters Hill Bus Service
The ‘Bus Service Alterations’ included:
- Approval for the Nathalia – Shepparton run operated by V.T. Farthing
- Route 743 (Glen Waverley – Wheelers Hill) operated by Ventura Motors altered to run via Glen Road, The Outlook, Townsend Street and Gallaghers Road to the corner at Waverley Road.
- Caloundra town service (Dickie Beach – Golden Beach) transferred from R.H. & E.W. Moynihan to Sunshine Coast Buses.
The ‘Market Place’ section printed on green paper at the end of the magazine listed:
- A number of 33 to 39 seat Bedfords built from 1956 to 1960 and a 1960 AEC ‘Reliance’ from the Metropolitan Transport Trust, Hobart for sale.
- Cartin’s Bus Lines of St Kilda, who was also a dealer, offered a AEC 470 with Ansair bodywork and a 1960 Dodge with 37 seat Freighter bodywork to potential buyers.
Finally, the inside rear cover carried an advertisement for the Comair bus distributed by Bus Sales (a division of the Bus Proprietors’ Association of Victoria). Pictured were recent deliveries to Reid’s of Northcote, a two-door route bus for Southland Bus Lines and a route/charter bus for Hampton Red Bus Service all on Bedford chassis.
Vol. 56, no. 1 (January 1992)
Twenty years later and T&BT contained glossier advertising and almost exclusively included colour photographs. Many famous marquees had all but disappeared. Leyland was still around but Bedfords had disappeared replaced by Isuzu. Mercedes, Volvo, and to a lesser extent Scania, were now the predominant force in bus chassis manufacturers.
January 1992’s front cover featured a picture of TV226 a Scania K92 / CC for Peninsula Bus Lines (itself a long gone operator) on the Central Coast in NSW.
In the ‘Bus & Coach’ news section, a North & Western Bus Lines Leyland Tiger / PMC, M/O 204, was pictured on page 11 dressed up to look like a tram as part of a advertising campaign to attract Sydneysiders to visit Melbourne. This was at the suggestion of N&W’s owner, Ken Butt who is also a keen rail and tram enthusiast. Interestingly on page 13 a photograph depicts one of two replica trams built on a Mitsubishi FK147 chassis with Howard Porter bodywork for ACTION’s ‘Downtowner’ service.
Bus deliveries for January 1992 predominately included various Mercedes chassis including:
- Three O303-3 MCA coaches for the Australian Army
- A O405 Howard Porter route bus for Transperth
- Four OH1418s with PMCA bodywork for Buslink in Darwin
Other deliveries included a 61-seat PMCA stock unit on a Sprinter 927 chassis for I & B Campbell and Sons in Moorebank and a Hino FC146 with bodywork by Rogers for R & R Yates of Alstonville in NSW.
Feature articles in the January issue included a summary of the bus and coach market in 1991 which was suffering from the effects of an industry downturn which started in 1989 and some projections for the coming year for the industry across each state and sector. There was also a review of a modified 1418 chassis developed by Mercedes Benz to suit operators looking for a cheaper alternative to the O405. The latest Nissan Civilian minibus was also reviewed.
Some interesting advertisements included a tender seeking expressions of interest for the purchase of Bayside Bus Lines in Brisbane and ACTION was seeking the sale by tender two 1990 full imported Leyland Lynx buses which were purchased as part of an evaluation program.