3. SD Enthusiasts' Club Newsletter - Winter 2018.
NOT AN OUTSTANDING SUCCESS.
September Michael Harmes kindly sent to me a further seven photos from
his late father’s [Ernie Harmes] collection. Ernie was a well respected
demonstrator driver at S & D. Among the photos was this fine study
of an airport bus created by the SPV team. This bus was introduced to
the public at the 1980 Motor Show at the N.E.C. at Birmingham as a low
floor bus chassis. Designed for an overall length of 10 metres with a
wheelbase of 5.9 metres and powered by a front mounted Ford six
cylinder 6.0 litre engine with the drive through an Allison four-speed
automatic gearbox to the Ford rear axle. The chassis featured small
diameter wheels and low profile tyres. After the Motor Show the chassis
was fitted with a Reeve Burgess body, hence the Reebur number plate.
Burgess could trace its history back to Harry Reeve who in 1888 started
a wheelwright’s business in Pilsey near Chesterfield in Derbyshire. In
1974 the company became known as Reeve Burgess and in 1980 it became a
part of the Plaxton Group. By 1984 it was employing some 260 people.
But in 1991 (That rings a bell for former S&D employees) despite a
full order book, Plaxtons decided to close the factory and relocate the
work to Scarborough.
bus was handed over to the British Airports Authority on 8th May 1981.
The bus was allocated as a car park bus at Gatwick Airport. The design
of the body was somewhat strange in that the driver’s cab was very
cramped and was set at a much higher level than the saloon. Writing in
Buses Extra in 1987 the Editor, Stephen Morris described the handling
as “indifferent” and stated that “the less said about the brakes the
better.” It was hoped that BAA would order a further five buses but the
order didn’t materialise and the bus was transferred to Heathrow and
used for staff transport. So despite it’s attractive appearance the bus
was not an outstanding success.
this article I have relied heavily on David Kaye’s article ‘Freighter
on the Front’ which appeared in Buses Extra No 49 in October 1987 and
for Wikipedia for the information about Reeve Burgess.
attempt to break into the bus market reflected the early days of the SD
Freighter when some 50 or so chassis were fitted with bus type bodies
and mainly used at seaside resorts for holidaymakers. The largest fleet
being at Worthing where they were known as Tramocars.