1968 Leyland Panther Bus 498

This vehicle was one of 340 Leyland Panther route buses supplied to the Brisbane City Council between 1968 and 1970 as tram and trolleybus replacements. This was the largest batch of Panther anywhere in the world. The order was split between Brisbane body builders Athol Hedges and A.B. Denning & Co, with this vehicle one of 204 supplied by Athol Hedges at Northgate. It was delivered new to the Toowong bus depot in November 1968, which had only been open for a year at the time. It operated for the Council for two decades before it was temporarily withdrawn from service.

What separates it from all the others of its kind is that Bus 498 was fitted with a regenerative braking, storage and propulsion system under trial by the University of Queensland’s Department of Mechanical Engineering between 1984 and 1987. This involved the installation of pressurised accumulation tanks, which used hydraulics and nitrogen gas to convert braking power into driving power. At the same time it underwent refurbishment and was fitted with power assisted steering and high-back fabric seats.

In what would ultimately pave the way for hybrid buses, Bus 498, nicknamed ‘Reg’, was the only vehicle in the world at the time to successfully return to passenger service on 6 November 1987 so that performance and reliability data could be obtained from the experimental system. The vehicle lasted until October 1989 when it was saved from sale and donated by Council to the Brisbane Tramway Museum for preservation, given its significance as a one-of-a-kind vehicle. The vehicle then passed to the club during April 2000 for ongoing preservation.

Vehicle Specifications

ChassisLeyland Panther PSUR1/1
Engine11.1 litre, 6-cylinder Leyland 0.680 diesel engine, 150bhp at 1950rpm
TransmissionZF 2 HP-45 two-speed automatic
BrakesWestinghouse dual air brakes and spring handbrake
SteeringPower assisted (retrofitted)
BodyAthol Hedges Pty Ltd, Northgate, Queensland
ConstructionTubular steel frame with exterior aluminium panelling
ColourYellowfire orange and white
Seating83 passengers (41 seated, 42 standing)
In ServiceNovember 1968 to October 1989
Bus 498 is pictured here in its original two-tone blue and ivory white colour scheme, passing Kenmore Pool in 1983. Photo: Ian Lynas
Bus 498 is seen here turning into Gregory Terrace at Spring Hill post refurbishment and retrofit with regenerative braking in 1987. Photo: Ian Lynas

Restoration of Bus 498

Between May and November 2020, Bus 498 underwent an interior and exterior refurbishment at Coachworks.

These works included framework rust repairs, installation of new flooring and side panelling, repainting of the white roof and top orange band, installation of the grille above the destination board, and other minor cosmetic finishes.