Ashok Leyland was fortunate to have a technical know-how from British Leyland and had launched numerous futuristic products during 70’s till 90’s. When buses were getting built over truck chassis, with few modifications here and there, Ashok Leyland worked on a Integral bus chassis in the late 80’s and launched ‘Leopard’. British Leyland had a unique way of naming its products with the names of wild animals. This ‘Leopard’ was no different and the one which was launched in India has its origin from UK and was a successful product there and was in service since late 1950’s.
Coming to India, this was an early rear engine coach- Yes, you read it right. The 135 PS naturally aspirated, Leyland 402 engine developed 420 Nm of torque and was responsible for powering roof mounted Air conditioner as well.
Chassis was an Integral design with outrigger construction and had a underslung luggage compartment as well.
The coach had air suspension at both front and rear and again was too futuristic for the quality of roads India had.
The coach was 11m in length and had a seating capacity of 36 recling push back seats.
The seats were imported and the seat covers were made of fire retardant materials. They had features like arm rest, cigarette ash tray, magazine pouch and fordable tray.
The saloon has still more comforts, like tinted glass,
hat racks with provision for carrying suitcases,
and adjustable air vents and reading lights.
The drive work area apart from regular controls
had passenger addressing system as well. There wasn’t a dedicated driver door and the driver need to use the passenger door only. Today when Volvo offered driver door as an option, it’s still criticised as missing safety feature, but 25 years back the driver door wasn’t provided, rather wasn’t necessary.
Entry to the coach was through a pneumatic out swing door, even this was a new feature as normally doors were mechanically operated.
Being rear engine, the front floor was low and had a low entry provision for passenger.
You could see here how the hostess seats are folded, similar to what we see in Force Travellers.
All well, but for various reasons this wasn’t a commercial success and Ashok Leyland ended up selling very few numbers.
Full specification of the coach is here..
All images are scanned from the original leaf let, and hence there is a severe compromise in the quality of images.