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

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The Leyland Olympian was a double-decker bus built by British Leyland/Leyland Bus in the United Kingdom from 1980 to 1993.


The Olympian was built as a result of the Leyland Titan (B15), an integral double deck bus which was ordered en masse by London Transport. At the time there was a demand for non-integral vehicles; operators wishing to remain with more established manufacturers. Thus Leyland created the B45 project, which was named Olympian, in 1979. This was in many ways an update of the popular Bristol VR (Bristol Commercial Vehicles merged with Leyland in 1965), with many VR customers choosing Olympians. Later the Olympian also replaced the Leyland Atlantean.

It was available in 2 lengths, with wheelbases of 4.95m and 5.64m, giving total lengths of 9.56m and 10.25m. Engines were either the Leyland TL11 unit (an 11.1-litre development of the Leyland O.680), or the ever-popular Gardner 6LXB or 6LXCT. Some later Olympians had Cummins L10 engines. One even had a 5LXCT.

For the export market a tri-axle version was built with lengths of 10.4m, 11.32m and 11.95m, which was very popular with operators such as Kowloon Motor Bus. Leyland developed the air-conditioned version of Olympian later in 1988, with its air-conditioner driven by the main engine, not a separate engine.


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

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  • East Lancashire Coachbuilders (East Lancs)
    • East Lancs customer base for the Olympian came exclusively within the UK market - in particular municipal bus companies like Blackpool Transport, Cardiff City Transport, Derby City Transport, Eastbourne Buses, Lincoln City Transport, Nottingham City Transport, Northampton Transport, Plymouth City Transport, Rhymney Valley, Rossendale Transport, Southampton City Transport and Warrington Borough Transport. These operators developed loyal ties with East Lancs who met their requirements with a variety of body styles for the Olympian - including the E-Type which was essentially a clone of Alexander's R-Type body. London Buses took two East Lancs-Olympians with coach trim in 1985, however like most bodybuilders in the post deregulation period they faced a decline in orders for new vehicles and only a handful of Olympian's would be built by East Lancs in this period. The Drawlane Group - later known as British Bus and one of the emerging groups within the British bus industry, and subsequently absorbed by Arriva in 1996 - took a shareholding in East Lancs and began favouring them for new vehicle orders - albeit mostly on Dennis and Volvo based chasis. Drawlane's Midland Red North subsidiary received a small order for Olympian's in 1989 and Cheshire based independent Bullocks Coaches of Cheadle took two Leyland Olympian's in 1993 just prior to it becoming a Volvo product. East Lancs would however become one of the principal bodybuilders for the Volvo Olympian in the mid-1990s.
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  • Marshall
    • Marshall produced a one-off order for 20 Olympians for UK municipal operator Bournemouth Transport in 1982. No more double deck orders/products have been offered by Marshall and their current successors MCV Bus and Coach since this order.

Changing handsEdit

In 1988 Leyland Bus passed to Volvo, who continued only the Olympian due to its vast number of outstanding orders. 200 air-conditioned Olympians for Singapore Bus Services were the last order of buses to be manufactured under the 'Leyland' brand. The completion of these orders saw the discontinuation of the Leyland Olympian and the closure of the manufacturing plant in Workington, England. The name would live on when Volvo launched the Volvo Olympian, which was built in Irvine, Scotland.


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