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Before introducing Bristol VRT, The Bristol VR series has to be mentioned first.
Bristol VR is the final double-decker chassis wholly designed by Bristol. VR means Vertical Rear (engine). The rear-engined double deckers began in 1956 when Leyland introduced its Atlantean prototype based on the concept used in Bristol Lodekka. In 1962, Daimler followed the configuration of the Atlantean and put its Fleetline into market. Since warm response has been given to these double deckers from operators (because a 9.4m bus can accommodate as many as 78 seated passengers and the platform is situated at the front, so that the driver can watch the entrance), Bristol has to produce a double decker based on the Lodekka chassis to compete with these two major manufacturers.
In the 1966 bus, Bristol placed the engine in line with the chassis, in the offside rear corner, driving straight to a Lodekka rear axle. The chassis frame was developed from the FLF to make a low height bus. Bristol could also fitted a second staircase over the engine of the longer VR. However, in order to comply with Government Grants towards the cost of new buses, the VR was redesigned with transverse positioning of engine, so decoded the VRT.
After rationalising the production of single deckers, Leyland tended to develop a new integral double decker to replace their Atlantean, Fleetline and the VR. The outcome was Leyland Titan. However, it was not very successful and Leyland decided to design a separate chassis using Titan's Technology. The event was the Leyland Olympian, which were designed by Bristol and the first 995 buses were built in Bristol's factory. The birth of Olympians means the cease of production of the three vehicle types above. So, in August 1981, the last true Bristol chassis, a VRTISL316LXB, was dispatched to ECW for Stevensons of Spath in Staffordshire, for whom it was registered UVT 49X.
The VRT Mark III is the last generation of Bristol VRs.
Modified from Allan MacFarlane, History of Bristol Commercial Vehicles
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Page created: 12 March 2000
Last updated: 6 November 2002