Leyland Olympian

For the 1950s built Leyland/MCW integral bus, see Leyland-MCW Olympian.
Leyland Olympian

Preserved Bristol Omnibus Company Roe bodied Leyland Olympian in August 2011
Manufacturer Leyland
Production 1980 - 1993
Body and chassis
Doors 1, 2 or 3
Floor type Step entrance
Engine Leyland TL11
Gardner 6LXB
Gardner 6LXCT
Cummins L10
Capacity 67 to 100 seated
Transmission Leyland Hydracyclic
Voith DIWA
ZF Ecomat
Length 2-axle:
9.56m, 10.25m and 11m
10.4m, 11m and 12m
Width 2.5 m
Height 4.2m or 4.4m
Predecessor Bristol VRT
Leyland Fleetline
Leyland Atlantean
Successor Volvo Olympian

The Leyland Olympian was a 2-axle and 3-axle double-decker bus chassis manufactured by Leyland between 1980 and 1993. It was the last Leyland bus model in production.


ChesterBus Northern Counties bodied Olympian in Chester in June 2007
Preserved Midland Red East Lancs bodied Olympian in Llandudno in May 2013
Citybus bodied Olympian in Hong Kong in August 2008
Preserved Dublin Bus Alexander bodied Olympian in April 2008
Gray Line Olympian in New York City in May 2008

The Olympian shared the same chassis and running gear as with the Leyland Titan integral double deck bus which was ordered en masse by London Transport. At the time there was a demand for non-integral vehicles, with operators wishing to have the chassis bodied by other manufacturers. Thus Leyland created the B45 project, which was named Olympian, in 1979. This was in many ways an update of the popular Bristol VRT (Bristol Commercial Vehicles merged with Leyland in 1965), with many VR customers choosing Olympians. Later the Olympian also replaced the Leyland Atlantean.

The Olympian was unveiled at the 1980 Commercial Motor Show.[1] It was available in two lengths, 9.56m and 10.25m. Engines were either the Leyland TL11 unit (an 11.1-litre development of the Leyland 0.680), or the Gardner 6LXB or 6LXCT. Some later Olympians had Cummins L10 engines; one had a 5LXCT.

For the export market a three-axle version was built with lengths of 10.4m, 11.32m and 11.95m. This was very popular with operators such as Kowloon Motor Bus. In 1988, Leyland developed an air-conditioned version of the Olympian, with the air conditioner driven by the main engine instead of a separate engine.

Between 1979 and 1981, nine demonstrators were built, before the first production Olympian entered service with Ribble Motor Services in August 1981.[2][3]

The Olympian was initially manufactured at the former Bristol factory in Brislington with the first thousand completed here. In 1983, production transferred to Leyland's Farington and Workington plants. The last was completed for Singapore Bus Service in March 1994.[2]


The Leyland Olympian was built with a wide variety of body types:


United Kingdom

The Leyland Olympian was popular in the United Kingdom, with orders from operators both before and after privatisation. It was purchased by many National Bus Company subsidiaries.

Although London Buses primarily purchased the Leyland Titan, in 1984 it took delivery of three Olympians.[4] Between 1987 and 1992, a further 350 Olympians were purchased. The last were withdrawn in 2005, although some were converted to open top buses and remain in use with The Original Tour.[5][6] London Country purchased 102.[7]

Lothian Buses purchased over 200, but all were removed by 2009.[8]

South Wales Transport ordered 7 of these in 1985 registered C901-C907 FCY. These remained in service with First Cymru until 2005.

Beginning in 2017, Leyland Olympians won't be allowed to operate public bus routes in the UK due to the Disabled Access Regulations.


EAS of Athens received 19 Leyland Olympians in 1983, they were withdrawn by 1994.[9]

Hong Kong

Between 1981 and 1993, Kowloon Motor Bus purchased 906 Olympians, with all but four having Alexander bodywork.[10][11] Some were later repatriated to the United Kingdom, including 22 converted to open top configuration by The Big Bus Company.

China Motor Bus purchased 37 Olympians between 1981 and 1993.[12][13] All 35 three-axle Olympians passed to New World First Bus, with the entire batch of ten non-air-conditioned buses being sold to FirstGroup who repatriated them to the United Kingdom for use at their East Counties, Glasgow, Manchester and PMT subsidiaries.

After importing a few second-hand Olympians from the United Kingdom, Citybus purchased 294 new Olympians.[14] In 2003, 54 were repatriated to the United Kingdom to operate express services for Megabus.

All Hong Kong franchised Olympians had been withdrawn by October 2011. The non-franchised, open-topped, air-conditioned double deckers and private hire buses were withdrawn by 2015 due to their non-compliance with Hong Kong's emission regulations. Citybus #391 was the last Leyland Olympian to ever run in Hong Kong.


Dublin Bus purchased 63 Olympians.[15] The total was eventually increased to 175.

North America

In 1984, an Eastern Coach Works bodied left hand drive Olympian was sent to the United States as a demonstrator. It was used as a shuttle bus at Expo 86 in Vancouver. It then entered service on Gray Line tours in Victoria. It was later sold to Brampton Transit.

Grosvenor Coach Lines (Gray Line) of San Francisco received 10 Eastern Coach Works bodied three-axle Leyland Olympians in 1986 for sightseeing purposes.[16][17] Seven were later transferred to New York City and the other three to Seattle. After a period in store, the three Seattle units were repoweed with Detroit Diesel engines in Los Angeles and returned to Gray Line duties in San Francisco in 2015.[18]


Singapore Bus Services received 200 Leyland Olympian 2-axles between 1986 and 1989. These were deployed to Toa Payoh, Ang Mo Kio and Jurong depots. Singapore Bus Services took delivery of 200 further Olympians in 1993/94. Buses were consolidated into the same depots after the withdrawal of the earliest Leyland Olympian 2-axles between June and December 2003. The final Leyland Olympian 3-axle was withdrawn in April 2013.

SBS9168S, the last Leyland Olympian built, was repatriated to England in 2013 and is preserved by Dave Rogers and re-registered as L888 SBS.[19]

Leyland sale

In 1988, Leyland was purchased by Volvo, who only continued with the Olympian and Lynx due to the vast number of outstanding orders. More buses also went to Dublin Bus, London Transport, China Motor Bus and Hong Kong Citybus.

The completion of the final orders from Strathclyde Buses, Dublin Bus, China Motor Bus, Citybus and Singapore Bus Services saw the discontinuation of the Leyland Olympian, with the last delivered to Singapore Bus Services, and the plant in Workington closed.

The Leyland Olympian was superseded by the Volvo Olympian, with the existing chassis retained and a Volvo TD102KF engine replacing the Gardner engine option.[20][21] It remained in production until 2000.


  1. Olympian launch at last Commercial Motor 4 October 1980
  2. 1 2 Leyland Olympian Bus Fleet lists on the Web
  3. 2101 Leyland Olympian Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust
  4. LT's off-the-peg buses Commercial Motor 30 July 1983
  5. The London Olympians: L Class Ian's Bus Stop
  6. Original London Sightseeing Open Top Bus 26 September 2014
  7. The London Country Olympians: LR Class Ian's Bus Stop
  8. Double century Commercial Motor 15 June 1989
  9. Double-deck success for Leyland in Athens Commercial Motor 20 November 1982
  10. Hong Kong buys Commercial Motor 4 April 1987
  11. Kowloon Motor Bus Leyland Olympian Gakei
  12. China Motor Bus Leyland Olympian (Air-Conditioned) Gakei
  13. China Motor Bus Leyland Olympian (Non Air-Conditioned) Gakei
  14. Citybus Leyland Olympian Gakei
  15. Dublin delivery Commercial Motor 16 August 1990
  16. Leyland Bus gets US order Commercial Motor 14 September 1985
  17. Newsbrief Commercial Motor 14 June 1986
  18. "US Olympians repowered for return in San Francisco" Buses issue 724 July 2015 page 24
  19. Last Leyland Olympian Built The Leyland Society 11 November 2014
  20. Volvo power for Olympian Commercial Motor 27 February 1992
  21. Volvo opens bus lines in Irvine Commercial Motor 1 April 1993

External links

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