Here is a snippet from a training video by the National Bus Company in the UK. Just based on the cars in the background, I’d place it being made around the late 1970’s. The first part of the video is a test – identify all the things the bus driver is doing incorrectly. The Narrator then offers feedback, some with typical understated British humor. I didn’t do very well – I only found three. But I did learn a few new tricks for driving a bus, and the technical explanations by the Narrator are interesting.
The bus in this video is a Leyland National, built from 1972 to 1985, and was styled by Giovanni Michelotti – who had previously styled a number of British Leyland products (TR4, Spitfire, GT 6, etc.). The National was introduced to replace the older Leyland Panther, Daimler Roadliner and AEC Swift single-decker coaches. It had many modern upgrades; air suspension, semi-automatic transmission, etc.
The engine was an 8.2 litre (500 cu in) Leyland 510 turbocharged inline six cylinder diesel. It was unique in how it was positioned – it was mounted in the back, transversely, in lay down fashion (horizontally) with the cylinders facing to the rear. It was also unique in that it had a fixed head – Leyland’s previous engine had problems with blown head gaskets, so this fixed that problem. Unfortunately, it created others – changing pistons meant you had to go from the bottom of the engine up. The 510 proved troublesome in other areas also and had a reputation for being loud. Most were replaced with Volvo or Gardner engines.
The National was offered in three lengths, the most popular being the 11 meter model which carried 44 passengers.
It was given a face-lift in 1979 with a new rounded front fascia and movement of the radiator to the front. Leyland also replaced the 510 engine with the 0.680 (here in a transverse vertical orientation).
Early in its production run, several were modified as rail car demonstrators – but railway operators expressed little interest.
When re-engined, the National was a popular coach with over 7,000 made.
So, how’d you do on the quiz?