Bus Stop Classics: 1949 – 60 AEC Regal IV Coach with Seagull Body by Burlingham – “Curvy”

From the post-war period, up until the later 1950’s, coach builders and manufacturers in the UK were enthused with curves – bus design incorporated semi-elliptical and elliptical shapes along the sides, the roof, even the front.  Some designs didn’t wear this curvy look well – others were fairly distinctive.  This AEC Regal IV chassis with a Seagull body by Burlingham I thought fell into the latter group.

Above are several examples of curvy post-war UK buses…

AEC, or Associated Equipment Company, was a prolific manufacturer of mostly urban transit buses in the UK from 1909 to 1979.  Their most famous product was the iconic Routemaster double decker – the classic red London Bus.  But the company also made single floor models – and the Regal was one of its most popular.

Bedford Val with Plaxton Panorama Coachwork

While still true today, the UK in the post-war period was chock full of coach builders – Duple, Plaxton, and Thomas Harrington were some of the more widely known.  These coach builders would take a basic chassis procured from a manufacturer and fit it with a body that best met the customer’s operational requirements and/or aesthetic desires.  Fellow CC Contributor and good friend Roger Carr said it best – during this period you had to use two names to accurately identify a UK coach.

The Regal IV was made from 1949 to 1960 – and would typically seat 41 passengers.  Length was a touch over nine meters and width 2.2.  It was somewhat unique in that it had an underfloor, mid-mounted “lay-down” engine – an AEC 9.6-litre AH590 in-line diesel six cylinder with 120 hp an 430 ft lbs of torque.  This engine in a vertical orientation was also used in the Routemaster.  Quick note on photo above – this coach was likely used to transport US military children from their off-base homes to on-base schools – DODDS stands for Dept of Defense Dependent Schools.

With an initial glance, one wonders if the floor and seats curved in an elliptical fashion, matching the windows – they didn’t, the floor remained mostly flat.

The Regal came with coachwork by other builders, some being much more traditional.

The Burlingham Seagull body could also go over a Leyland chassis – this being a late 50’s Leyland Tiger Cub.

In 1994, the Burlingham Seagull body came in second in the Classic Bus reader poll to find the most attractive UK coach body style of all time.  Obviously, appearance is a matter of taste, but this coach certainly was both popular and distinctive – I like it.