Volvo B10M-46 D302PEV was purchased on 1st March 2013 from Mullanys Coaches, Watford, Hertfordshire, and thus became a preserved bus from that date. It will be rallied for the first time during the 2013 season.
The vehicle has Plaxton Bustler single deck bodywork and was new to Harris Bus in October 1986, along with three sisters. The coach pedigree is no surprise given that Harris Bus was created to operate all the local stage carriage work & contracts of sister company Harris Coaches, following de-regulation of local bus services in 1986.
The bodywork is extremely rare, with only around 50 examples ever made. Ralphs Coaches of Longford had the biggest single fleet with 26 Bustler bodies on Ford chassis for contracts at Heathrow Airport (thus some had offside doors fitted too) - two of these are known to still exist in New Zealand; one as a caravan!! Fellow Essex independant (at that time) Hedingham also had at least one on a Leyland Leopard chassis.
D302PEV and its sisters were the first new vehicles for Harris Bus and formed part of the initial launch fleet for the company - so with my other former Harris bus vehicle (P337ROO) being one of the last vehicles new to Harris Bus, and indeed part of the fleet when Harris Bus finally ceased operations, I now have vehicles representing both the start and end of Harris Bus & thus two of the companies three liveries. I wonder if I might end up with a third somewhere in the middle that carried the Blue & White livery???!!!!
302 and its sisters initially operated primarily on Essex County Council contract routes 265 (Bulphan - Brentwood), 269 (Grays - Brentwood) and 372 (Grays to Orsett Hospital); though as with any bus company fleet, it would have worked any route the company operated. When it ended its days with Harris Bus at the end of 1996, it could usually be found on route 383 (Chadwell - Lakeside) - in direct competition with my Dart J317XVX!!
As far as I’m aware, D302PEV is the third former Harris Bus vehicle in preservation - the first being Fred Lawrance’s very well presented Leyland PD3 BUF426C, and the other is my DAF double decker P337ROO
The plan is to fully restore the vehicle to it’s original Harris Bus livery and, much like with my other vehicles, show her off at bus rallies and such like in the south of England.
As with my other vehicles, D302PEV is insured to carry passengers on free services at bus rallies & road running days (I have a PCV driving licence).
Clacton & Canvey rallies are always good bets though as whichever of my vehicles attend those rallies will be made available for service should an appropriately licenced driver be available....