Archive, Features

FLASHBACK FRIDAY: A lesser known Leyland Cat

Allen Matzell looks at a rare Leyland cat, the Lion, in this April 2006 ABC article

In 1960 Leyland crossed a Royal Tiger Worldmaster with an Atlantean and the offspring became the Lion. The Lion inherited the Worldmaster chassis as well as the front axle, steering and spiral bevel rear axle; the Atlantean marque supplied the transverse power pack.

Leyland offered the Lion with either an O600 or the more powerful O680 engine, however most Lions had the O600 engine. Suspension on the Lion was standard semi-elliptic laminated leaf springs 4in wide by 62in long front and rear. Air/leaf suspension was offered as an option on the front axle only; this consisted of one double convoluted air bellow in conjunction with a low rated leaf spring per side.

The O600 engine was a six-cylinder unit of 9.8litre capacity developing 140bhp at 1700rpm with a maximum torque of 438lb ft at 1200rpm.

This was coupled to a four-speed Pneumo-Cyclic direct air shift semi-automatic transmission. As an option a fully automatic version of this transmission was available.

The PSR1/1 Lion was in production from 1960 to 1965. Lions were sold only in penny numbers with the biggest customer being an operator in Teheran taking delivery of a total of 52.

The Lion was quite rare in Australia with only 20 entering service. The biggest operator was the West Australian Government Railways (WAGR) with 15 Lions, and five of these were the even rarer three-axle units.

The WAGR Lions units entered service between 1964 and 1966. Two-axle Lions were bodied by Boltons and Freighter to a C36Ft configuration while the rarer three-axle units had bodywork by Howard Porter to a C20Fv configuration with a large freight compartment at the rear.

On the three-axle Lions, only the rearmost axle was driven the other axle was linked by the compensating torsion bar system then used on the Albion Reiver truck.

A sixth three-axle Lion was delivered to a private operator for a service between Perth and Exmouth. This was basically the same as the WAGR units but without the freight compartment.

The WAGR Lions were finally withdrawn during the early to mid 1980s.

There were also two Lions delivered to Nelson Suburban Bus Company in New Zealand in 1962. These had attractive 42-seat dual door bodies built by New Zealand Motor Bodies.

Other private operators in Australia to run Lions from new were Black and White of Sandgate in Brisbane with four Freighter-bodied coaches and a well-travelled unit also with a freighter body from the Department of Supply, Woomera.

Five years after Leyland stopped production of the Lion, two chassis were found ‘lying around in a dealer’s yard’ and were bodied in 1970 by PMC NSW for Melbourne-based Sinclair’s bus service.

There was also an earlier breed of Lion in Australia. This older unit now resides at Whiteman Park Transport Museum in WA. This restored Leyland Lion was obtained in 1970’s from Southern Cross farm that had used it to cart fertilizer around it after obtaining it from Eastern Goldfields Transport Board in late 1950s. Its life started with Metro Bus in the 1920s.

Photography: ABC archive

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