Frederick W. Plaxton started a joinery business in Scarborough in 1907, and eventually expanded into construction too. Coachbuilding started in about 1919 when the ending of the First World War found a lot of ex-military vehicles which Plaxton decided to re-body. From 1920 coachbuilding was big enough for Plaxton to expand into new premises on Castle Street, Scarborough and hence the decision to use the 'castle' logo for Plaxton. Plaxton also bodied some Crossley cars, including those used on the 1922 Prince of Wales tour of Australia. However, most Plaxton bodies were supplied to companies in the north east of England, and it was only an award at the 1931 Olympia Show that gave Plaxton greater recognition. Although coachbuilding was suspended during the war years, deliveries started again in 1946 and Plaxton gained sales throughout Britain. During the 1950s the traditional layout of front engine with the driver seated beside it was challenged, as was the trend of using common design for lorry and bus chassis. Sentinel put an engine on its side between the front and rear axles and underneath the chassis, allowing more seats to be placed within the same chassis length and Plaxton responded to this innovation. Bedford and Commer were providing lightweight front-engined chassis which often proved better for coach bodies than the heavier AEC and Leyland products, but both lighter front-engined and newer central-engined chassis were coachbuilt by Plaxton. The striking Panorama Elite design of 1958 set a style that others tried to copy, and in 1970 Plaxton called in Ogle design to produce a successor to the Panorama.
Leyland Tiger 1981 Plaxton Supreme V - badge
Leyland Tiger 1981 with Supreme V coachwork by Plaxton. From 1974 the Plaxton Supreme took over from the Panorama Elite. The Supreme IV gain quad rectangular lamps, and the 1981 Supreme V was given a smaller rear window. There was also a Supreme VI with shallower side windows for long distance travel.
AEC Reliance 1962, with Plaxton Highway bodywork
Austin K8 1952 Coach. A lengthened Austin K8 chassis fitted with a Plaxton Venturer 14-seater coach body
Bedford VAL 1969 with Plaxton Panorama Elite Coachwork for Abbey Coachways (Selby). The Panorama Elite was launched in 1968 designed by Ogle design and continued until the Panorama Supreme of 1974. The Bedford VAL chassis had been launched in the late 1960s with unusual 'Chinese Six' wheelbase giving four front steering wheels.
Bedford 1976 Panorama. Built on a Bedford NJM chassis which had been launched in 1950 as Bedford's first purpose-built bus chassis (the 'Bedford SB' series) and renamed NFM and NJM in 1968. Coachwork is the Plaxton Panorama body.
Leyland Tiger 1981. With Supreme V coachwork by Plaxton. The Supreme had replaced the Panorama and Panorama Elite from 1974. The Supreme V had a shallower high-mounted rear window made of flat glass. The newer Paramount design replaced the Supreme in 1982/3.
Leyland Tiger 1981 with Supreme V coachwork by Plaxton. The Supreme IV of was facelifted to incorporate 4 rectangular lamps. The Leyland Tiger (B43) was produced from 1981-93 but its failure to counter sales of Volvo coaches resulted in Volvo taking over Leyland buses in 1988 and replacing the Cummins diesel with Volvo units from 1989.