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British Industrial History

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Bristol Commercial Vehicles: RE

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1967. Bristol RELL6L. ECW B44D. Reg No: KHW 309E.
1967. Bristol RESL6L. ECW B46F. Reg No: LAX 101E.
1970. Bristol RELH6G. ECW C45F. Reg No: RDV 423H.
1975. Bristol RESL6G. ECW B43F. Reg No: JMW 168P.

Note: This is a sub-section of Bristol Commercial Vehicles.

The Bristol RE (Rear Engine) was a single-deck bus chassis and is considered the most successful of the first generation of rear-engined single-deckers.

Initially, the RE was only supplied to subsidiaries of the nationalised Transport Holding Company, by which Bristol was wholly owned. A few years later, when Leyland purchased a shareholding in Bristol and the company's products became available to other customers, the RE also gained popularity with companies in other sectors, including the British Electric Traction Group and municipal operators.

From 1972, sales to the National Bus Company (which had taken over the operations of both THC and BET) began to dry up, due to the introduction of the Leyland National.

From 1976 the RE remained in production only for the Northern Irish state-owned bus companies Ulsterbus and Citybus, and for export to Christchurch Transport Board, New Zealand.

In Great Britain, the RE was most commonly fitted with bodywork by Eastern Coach Works, but several other manufacturers also built bodywork on the chassis.

Some express coaches were fitted with Plaxton Panorama Elite or Alexander M Type bodywork.

In Northern Ireland, the RE was bodied by Alexander (Belfast), with the X Type bodywork.


  • RELL - long (36'), low frame (bus)
  • RESL - short, low frame (bus)
  • RELH - long (36'), high frame (coach or dual-purpose)
  • RESH - short, high frame (coach; rare)
  • REMH - maximum length (12m), high frame (motorway coach)

These designations were suffixed by a code indicating the type of engine fitted:

  • 6G - 6-cylinder Gardner diesel (6HLX)
  • 6L - 6-cylinder Leyland diesel (O.680/O.600)

See Also


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