1965 Bristol LFL Lodekka Double Decker Bus BOD39C
Engine 6cyl Diesel
4 speed manual transmission
Right hand drive
This bus was built (in October 1965) for Western National Omnibus Company (Fleet #2097), was exported to the US in 1978 and spent some time in Mobile, Alabama before being brought to Tacoma by Harold LeMay.
Lodekka’s were not operated by any London-based transport companies (standard double-deckers were used). The Western National Omnibus Company operated in the southwest of England, specifically between Cheltenham and Penzance. In 1949 the company was nationalized, then in 1983 privatized and absorbed by other companies.
The red double-decker buses in London have become an icon of Britain. Bristol-built buses have a reputation the world over for longevity and reliability. This is partly due to the quality and care with which they were built and partly due to a reliance on tried and tested technology.
The Lodekka was an innovation for which the railways were largely responsible; the number of low-clearance railway bridges that had been constructed during the period in which the railways were being developed meant that uncomfortable ‘low bridge’ double-deck bodies had been constructed with an upper deck with four seats in a row and a side gangway with limited headroom. These were very unpopular with the travelling public so, the Lodekka addressed this issue by a clever design in the 1920s. The Lodekka’s running gear was kept low down in the chassis, thus allowing the lower deck gangway to be lower. This in turn led to an overall reduction in height comparable with a standard ‘low bridge’ model. The Lodekka, though technically sophisticated for its time, proved to be an excellent vehicle and many still exist. Although never sold on the open market, many still exist either in preservation or in use all around the world.