1322 WA - AEC Reliance
Bodywork: Plaxton Panorama, 41 seats
Original owner: Sheffield United Tours, Fleet No. 322
Year built: 1961
Part of Museum Collection
This Plaxton Panorama bodied AEC Reliance is noteworthy, among other reasons, for the use of curved glass and very large side windows in the construction. Plaxton was the only coachbuilder prepared to undertake SUT's request for such a novel and trend-setting body. The use of the curved, fixed windscreen on this vehicle was only possible due to a change in legislation in 1958/9, prior to which all windscreens had to open. No. 322 was one of a batch of eight (numbered 318-325) which were the first in the fleet to have low-backed touring seats.
No. 322's use from new until 1968 was on tours in the UK as a 36 seat touring coach. The main tours were to Bournemouth, the Isle of Wight and Folkstone with regular driver Harry 'Nippy' Norman from 1961 until 1964.
In 1968, 322 was re-seated to a conventional 41 seats and used on excursions, express services, private hire and other SUT contracts. In April 1973 it was sold to North's of Sherburn in Elmet (dealer), who sold it two months later to Newbold Green School in Chesterfield. They used it until 1978 when it returned to North's for another year. It was sold to the SUT Preservation Group in August 1979.
After storage at various locations, 322 was moved to Sheffield ''under its own steam'' in 1987. Restoration started about 2001 but then it was acquired in late 2006 by the Museum and moved with the rest of the collection to Aldwarke.
A team of our volunteers including ex-SUT employees has worked on its restoration which was completed in Spring 2017.
No. 322 is now in use on museum Open Days and has also attended external bus rallies and events, it is expected to join our active hire fleet during Spring 2018.