Underfloor-engined, straight-framed Leyland Olympics and
Worldmasters entered service with the Cape Tramways group
during the early fifties. They were nowhere near as
successful as conventional front-engined models, running far
fewer miles between overhauls. Dust and dirt thrown up on
unmade roads was a major problem (a circumstance largely
unknown by municipal operators in cities like Johannesburg
and Pretoria), and later the notorious 'oil-starvation'
phenomenon was pinpointed.
For subsequent orders, the group reverted to the
mid-fifties' Leyland OPS4/5 single-decker model, and 72-seat
PD3A/2 and PD3/5 double-decker, all with cranked frames
and front engines. The single-deckers had half-cab Busaf (previously
known as Bus-Bodies)
bodies, while the double-deckers were full-fronted.
55 Daimler CVG6LX30 72-seat double-deckers, identical to the
Leyland PD3/5 except for the grille, were supplied to Cape
Tramways in 1966/7. 13 went to PE, but later these were
transferred back to Cape Town in exchange for their Fleetlines.
Following introduction of the so-called UK 'Bus Grant' in
the sixties (the government meeting half the cost of every
new urban bus as long as it had its door beside the driver),
production of conventional front-engined vehicles with
cranked frames ceased virtually overnight, leaving only
straight-framed single-deck models, and rear-engined
During the sixties, Guy - mimicking the AEC 'Kudu' -
reworked the straight-frame underfloor-engine layout to take
a front-mounted engine cantilevered ahead of the front-axle,
thereby permitting the door being placed beside the driver.
This was marketed as the Guy 'Trambus'. Cape Tramways took
40 in 1967, allocating them to PE (fleet 800-839). Cape Town
also acquired a number of AEC Kudus, but later transferred
these to East London in exchange for 100+ underfloor-engine
Worldmasters, inherited from the previous operator, which
were underperforming on hilly and dusty routes.
'Big J' was actually a heavy truck produced by Guy. In 1969,
a heavier version of the Trambus was produced - this became
known as the Victory J. During the next few years, Cape
Tramways (and other operators like United Transport) bought
considerable numbers. Strictly speaking, there was never a
Guy Victory J or Big J bus, as Guy became part of the
Leyland Empire before they were produced. All Victory J
buses - certainly those in Cape Town and Port Elizabeth -
carried the Leyland, not the Guy, logo.
In 1968, when Leyland took them over, both Guy and Daimler
were subsidiaries of the Jaguar group. (NB This was British
Daimler, founded in 1896, as distinct from Germany's
completely separate Daimler-Benz). Thus the Daimler
Fleetline, introduced in 1960, effectively became a Leyland
Fleetline from 1968, yet Daimler, not Leyland logos appeared
on these buses.
(To further confuse the issue, some Fleetlines both prior to
1968 and later had Leyland engines. Cape Tramways however
specified Gardners, a slower running and much more
fuel-efficient unit. Busaf bodied all these vehicles
except for an ex-Halifax (UK) municipal Fleetline imported
on test at City Tramways.
Johannesburg meanwhile graduated from Fleetlines to
Mercedes O305's, being the first operator for which Busaf devised a
double-deck version. (Both Johannesburg and Pretoria had
previously experimented with Bristol VRT rear-engined
double-deckers. Before that, Pretoria's first rear-engined
double-deckers had been Leyland Atlanteans - that was in in
the early sixties.
From 1960, City Tramways operated a Leyland Atlantean that
came to it as a demonstrator). Busaf later built MAN
Cape Tramways' experience with rear engines was generally
unfavourable for several reasons, all contributing to
expensive maintenance. In 1973, Busaf - on the initiative of
the group - fitted an experimental double-deck body to a
Victory J chassis.
Following successful testing as PE fleet no 1000, orders
were placed for the Cape Town series numbered as 16xx.
Four identical vehicles were sold to Hong Kong. Due to heavy
tyre wear caused by the engine cantilevered ahead of the
front axle plus the upper deck, the axle was moved forward
in subsequent Cape Tramways orders (17xx and 18xx for City
In the early seventies, PE Tramways Rolling Stock Engineer
Mel Wright rebuilt a Leyland Worldmaster, turning the
horizontal engine into vertical configuration.
This highly successful modification resulted - apart from an
inevitably higher floor - in performance not dissimilar to
City Tramways at Cape Town forthwith rebuilt and rebodied
its substantial fleet of Worldmasters similarly, all giving
excellent service for well over another 10 years.
The group also rebuilt a number of the surviving OPS4/5s,
moving the front axle back to bring the door forward beside
the driver, giving a layout similar to the original Guy
In rebodying, the characteristic OPS4/5 half-cab
configuration was converted to full front. These vehicles
were deployed mainly in the group's so-called 'country
companies' at Stellenbosch, Strand, Paarl, Malmesbury,
Saldanha, Worcester, etc - all now no more.
In 1987, sixteen 100-seater double-deckers were supplied by
Busaf on Leyland Victory J chassis.
I would like to thank Rollo for writing this for the bus
site, and in doing so, making it easier for us to understand
the somewhat complex bus system Cape Town, South Africa.