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The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

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The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:00 am

The successor to the O series Bedford was the S series, with the bus version being the SB. This was released in 1950 at the British Commercial Motor Show. It was constructed as a forward control vehicle which was novelty in Britain, but as I explained in Part 1, this was already the norm with the CAC/OB. The engine was more powerful than the OB (36 hp up from 27hp) and the chassis a bit longer (206 inches up from 201inches). The CAC version was launched in early 1952 and was constructed in only one length (unlike the OB) and, initially, without the option of a rear door. For the first six months the windows were the same type as for the OB.

Image

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Around June 1952, a new type window set appeared and the option of two doors again became available. This only lasted for a few months as, by this stage, many operators who had purchased the 2 door version of the OB were having them sealed or removed.

Image

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In 1953, a diesel version of the SB became available (Perkins engine), designated the SBO (O standing for oil). The petrol version was then designated the SBG (G for gasoline). This CAC/SB later became known by enthusiasts as the flat screen SB in order to distinguish it from its successor which, as we will see in Part 3, had a curved front screen.

Image

Counter to moves that we would see in later years, the CAC/SB was built higher off the ground than the OB with a consequent higher step height. This was to limit the protruding wheel arches inside the bus to allow for more seating space. In the OB, the seat over the rear arches had to be placed perimeter style, but with the SB all seating could be (if the operator so wished) transverse style, giving a more comfortable 33 seats. The wheel spats also disappeared in this bus, which no doubt pleased the mechanics if not the enthusiasts.

Image

As with the OB, these buses were built for GMH by CAC, so CAC did not have records of purchase and my attempts to get any information from GMH have been unsuccessful (so far). So, there is no complete or even good partial list of buses produced and sold. We know that many SBs headed interstate, especially to WA for workers on the Kwinana Refinery site (amongst other projects). Many of these found their way back to Victoria after construction had ceased. In all, 818 SB/SBGs were built to this design, with the last bus delivered to Ventura as their number 29 (GTD 069) in October 1957.

Some variations: First, a "Scottish Fold" SB , one of the first produced had bit of trimming of the header after an accident:
Image

Second, one of the first full size buses modified for disabled children:
Image

Third, at first glance looks like any other SB, but count the windows. This was one of a number modified by Owen Bridges, a dealer at the time, before being on sold (thanks to Geoff Mann for that info):
Image

There are a number in preservation, perhaps up to a dozen. Below are two examples:

First, Ventura had a large fleet of this type, in fact, the largest by any private operator anywhere with 16 examples acquired new and 4 second hand versions (1 from WA in 1955 and three from Reg Carter in 1964 upon acquisition of his High Street Road route service). However, the preserved vehicle is not one of them being acquired from a country operator and being one which originally had two doors (partially removed by the country operator and fully converted by Ventura). It was new in mid 1952:
Image

Second, ex MTT (WA) 162 is owned by Pat Hallahan - a local Kalamunda historian and it is kept at Whiteman Park. It was new in 7/53:
Image

Photographs 1,2 come from the John Masterton Collection and were taken by Bruce Tilley; photos 3,4 and 5 come the BCSV Archives; photos 6 and 10 are mine; photos 7,8 and 9 come from the JM Collection and were taken by John; and the last one comes courtesy of Colin Davison in WA via Herbert.
Last edited by system improver on Tue Jan 03, 2012 12:13 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby stevegj52 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:34 am

Thanks again for sharing these System Improver,they were a fine bus and well built travelled to school on a few of them.MTT tas also had a fleet of them both the flat screen and curved.They sold them about 69/70 as 3 went to Queenstown Bus Service to replace AEC regals.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Herbert » Sat Mar 07, 2009 12:08 pm

Another excellent & informative thread, system improver; thank you. I'm glad you included the photo of the US 2-door as I think this is the only photo I've ever seen of one.

Thanks, too, for the explanation about "SBG". There are eight units recorded as such in the Perth lists, but I never knew what differentiated them from the other SBs. It is now apparent that any dating from 1953 should in fact be designated "SBG". There is one recorded as being an "SB7" with a 330 motor - does this match your information about model designations? The bus concerned was Carlisle 8's beloved United 30 / MTT 225 of the wrap-around windscreen variety.

There are 15 SBs recorded as being initially owned by Australian Petroleum Refinery (two of which had long lives with the MTT, being the last SBs withdrawn in August 1972), and another 3 by Anglo Iranian Refinery. These were said to have carried Metro livery, fleet nos & registrations, with the ownership transferring to Metro in late 1954/early 1955. Is there a listing available of other units that returned east?
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:01 pm

Herbert wrote:...It is now apparent that any dating from 1953 should in fact be designated "SBG". ..


I wouldn't be too strict about that, remember these are British designations and the timing of the adoption of the changed terminology here is very much open to question. Unless the bus had a Perkins diesel, then I'd stick to what you have, at least for the time being.

...There is one recorded as being an "SB7" with a 330 motor - does this match your information about model designations? The bus concerned (was)... of the wrap-around windscreen variety...


More will be "revealed" in Part 3 on this question.

...There are 15 SBs recorded as being initially owned by Australian Petroleum Refinery (two of which had long lives with the MTT, being the last SBs withdrawn in August 1972), and another 3 by Anglo Iranian Refinery. These were said to have carried Metro livery, fleet nos & registrations, with the ownership transferring to Metro in late 1954/early 1955. Is there a listing available of other units that returned east?


Not yet. It is, as they say, a work in progress, but they came over in mid 1955 which ties in very well with your dates. Ten went to Bell Street BC, 3 to Latrobe Valley BL, one to Grenda's BS and one to Ventura. There may be one or two others which I am still checking.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby ALBION1881 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:04 pm

The old OB and SB BEDFORD certainly came in a variety of shapes and sizes from the short wheel drive to the long wheel drive and different but as a bus they were reliable and for any use town,school,special runs but I don`t anything else match up to the old Bedford.Here is one from leon batmans collection that might be of interest.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby GM » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:22 pm

Bedford m/o 361 Ex Greenacre Bus Co, Ex Cumberland Coaches, sold to Sugar Valley, sold as caravan. GM
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby ALBION1881 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:28 pm

Gm MO-361 looks different in your picture compared to what she look like do you know if sugar valley filled in the middle doorway it is shame that it was converted into a motorhome.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:43 pm

Please stick to the CAC Bedford in this thread.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby boronia » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:54 pm

I do find it a bit odd that an English bus chassis would be powered by "gasoline". :D :D
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:58 pm

boronia wrote:I do find it a bit odd that an English bus chassis would be powered by "gasoline". :D :D


Yes, so did I, but it was explained to me by John Wakefield in Britain (the guru on Bedford buses), that US terminology became the order of the day after the war. A sign of things to come I suppose. Also, Bedford was GM company.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Carlisle 8 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 5:41 pm

Thank you, system improver, for another excellent thread, packed with interesting information and great photos.

I want to raise the topic of the SBs used at the Kwinana Refinery. In the following quotations, the first was Herbert's, the second was system improver's response. Please read on.....

Herbert wrote:
...There are 15 SBs recorded as being initially owned by Australian Petroleum Refinery (two of which had long lives with the MTT, being the last SBs withdrawn in August 1972), and another 3 by Anglo Iranian Refinery. These were said to have carried Metro livery, fleet nos & registrations, with the ownership transferring to Metro in late 1954/early 1955. Is there a listing available of other units that returned east?


Not yet. It is, as they say, a work in progress, but they came over in mid 1955 which ties in very well with your dates. Ten went to Bell Street BC, 3 to Latrobe Valley BL, one to Grenda's BS and one to Ventura. There may be one or two others which I am still checking.


I was around in those distant days and I can confirm that the buses were initially operated on behalf of the owners, by Metro and that they did bear Metro livery and fleet numbers. I'd like to expand on what Herbert wrote, by advising that all were absorbed into the Metro fleet and subsequently into the MTT fleet. They are shown in the fleet list as numbers 151 to 167 and number 169. Have a look, if you want finer details. The numbers quoted correspond with my records from that era, but I can't remember what happened to 168. Perhaps it was one of the batch and met with a fatal accident?

system improver mentioned other Bedfords coming west for contract work. I don't know about those and I'd certainly like to learn more about them. If SB's did indeed return east, it would have to have been from other lots, not those operated by Metro and described above.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 6:28 pm

Carlisle 8 wrote:... If SB's did indeed return east, it would have to have been from other lots, not those operated by Metro and described above.


Yes, I agree. Our records simply list "ex Kwinana Oil Refinery WA" as the previous owner although the one that went to Ventura was tagged or "Ex Govt WA" . Is it possible that only some were absorbed into Metro and the rest came here? That is, Kwinana had more than thirty. The body numbers for the Victorian ones are around 300, i.e. a late 1953 - early 1954 build, although given that the production lines probably contained up to twenty at any one time, body numbers were not always in sequence of delivery.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Carlisle 8 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:08 pm

My information was that all of the buses managed by Metro, were taken over by Metro and absorbed into the Metro fleet.

I have no knowledge of other contractors running SBs at the refinery, so I can't contribute to that. While I'm not asserting that your information that Kwinana had more than 30 SBs is wrong, have you considered the reliability of that information?

As for one SB being ex W.A. Government, I have no knowledge of that, but I wonder whether some department had a SB for non public transport use?

I've never been a recorder of dates built, so I can't personally guarantee the following information, but it did come from a trusted source. According to information from him, the Metro SBs in question were built from 6/53 to 10/53.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:04 pm

Carlisle 8 wrote:....While I'm not asserting that your information that Kwinana had more than 30 SBs is wrong, have you considered the reliability of that information?


The number at Kwinana is my guess, but I can tell you that the source of the info on the BCSV cards is as accurate as you are going to get in the enthusiast's world. I don't see that the data is necessarily mutually exclusive. What we do know for certain is that 15 or so SBs were purchased second hand by Victorian operators in June/July 1955. They were initially manufactured late '54/early '55 and were described as being ex Kwinana. Other than that, it's all speculation.

...As for one SB being ex W.A. Government, I have no knowledge of that, but I wonder whether some department had a SB for non public transport use?...


This is possible, as there was one difference between this vehicle and all the rest, it lacked a desto mechanism and throughout its lifetime with Ventura always had a blue painted desto window, the only Ventura SB to be like this. I also note on the BCSV card that not only is it ex WA Govt but also ex Cheney SA, which I suppose was the dealer.Whether that is significant or not I don't know.

... the Metro SBs in question were built from 6/53 to 10/53.


That is also consistent. I will be interested to see whether I can find the body number on 162 when I come over in a few weeks. Of course, a nice body list would solve all the mystery - and you never know, one might turn up one day. I live in hope.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby beddy » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:11 am

Another Excellent Post, System Improver. I never knew that the first SB's had OB style windows. Also, The Extended SB Looks Good, just wondering how they did it without significant body/chassis work. I am waiting for part 3 with anticipation. There is another converted SB here http://cgi.ebay.com.au/1957-bedford-bus ... 240%3A1318. Attached is a couple of photos i have found in my evergrowing collection, I don't know the photographer, so i you are please tell me and i'll update the post.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Fri May 01, 2009 8:44 pm

system improver wrote:
Carlisle 8 wrote:... If SB's did indeed return east, it would have to have been from other lots, not those operated by Metro and described above.


Yes, I agree. Our records simply list "ex Kwinana Oil Refinery WA" as the previous owner although the one that went to Ventura was tagged or "Ex Govt WA" . Is it possible that only some were absorbed into Metro and the rest came here? That is, Kwinana had more than thirty. The body numbers for the Victorian ones are around 300, i.e. a late 1953 - early 1954 build, although given that the production lines probably contained up to twenty at any one time, body numbers were not always in sequence of delivery.


On reading the 1954 and 1955 volumes of T&BT today, I believe that this issue can now be clarified, at least as far as Victoria is concerned.

First, the May 1954 issue carries a story on Metro Buses P/L and its history. Part of that story concerns the operation of the buses to Kwinana. It appears that they were all owned by Metro and were on charter to Kwinana as no fares were taken Forty five of them ran the service, with 5returning to other duties during the day and the other 40 simply staying at the refinery waiting for the return trip. Because of this, these buses were driven to the refinery and back by employees of the refinery (not unlike school buses and teachers in that regard).

The next story comes in the August 1955 issue, and I will quote from it:

Following the completion of the Kwinana oil refinery project in WA, Metro Buses Pty Ltd declared surplus 42 GM-H Bedfords. Of these, 26 were snapped up by the local market in WA, and the Melbourne Bedford agents, S.A.Cheney Pty Ltd bought 16 at a price which enabled him to resell them in Melbourne at slightly less than 3000 pounds each.(A new bus was worth about 3700 pounds then)...Sales effected were 10 to Bell Street Bus Co, 4 to Latrobe Valley BL, 1 to Ventura and 1 to Grenda's.

So, when our records show Ex Kwinana, they refer to their duties not their owner. And there were plenty left in WA for other operators, all you have to do is find out where the your 26 went!

The story also details how the 16 buses were brought back to Melbourne. They were driven to Kalgoorlie, railed to Port Pirie and driven the rest of the way. Apparently, one of them blew a tyre on the way back, the only mishap.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby RabidRabbit93111 » Mon May 04, 2009 10:15 am

Thank you very much for this excellent thread...much appreciated:) Some fine looking buses there:)
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Herbert » Wed May 06, 2009 10:22 pm

I don't really want to hijack this second installment of system improver's fantastic series on the CAC bus by occupying a large space with what would seem to be "Perth" information. However, further to the comments already made in this thread regarding ex-Perth SBs that saw further service in the East, I have unearthed these extract's from a summary made of the Metro Board Minutes by M G Hayles in 1999. They help to "round out" our understanding of the batch of SBs specifically purchased to transport workers involved in the construction of the Kwinana Oil Refinery, and perhaps even contain a few surprises for locals who were unaware of the events that transpired.

I am grateful to Emlyn David (son of one of the founders of Metro) for making these most interesting notes available.
14 May 1953 wrote:Anglo Iranian Oil accepted Metro's plan to hire buses from Tramways but refused the 10% add on. Metro then suggested AIO buy new buses and Metro to purchase when no longer needed at a price to be agreed. Metro to do maintenance and provide drivers. ... The proposed deal was for AIO to buy 12 Bedfords and hand to Metro for inclusion in their fleet, all painted in Metro colours.
11 June 1953 wrote:Metro had agreed to license the first 3 Bedfords even though the agreement had not been signed. Metro also agree to supply 8 of their own buses.
25 June 1953 wrote:The Bedfords on lease from AIO would now be leased from the new company Australian Petroleum Refinery Ltd.
^^^ This explains why in the fleet lists original ownership of some SBs is recorded as AIO but as APR for the others.
26 Novermber 1953 wrote:AIO had now purchased 20 Befords...
29 October 1954 wrote:AIO had now purchased (progressively) an additional 22 Bedford buses, all outside the agreement to repurchase by Metro ... This makes 42 Bedfords in all.
11 March 1955 Director's Report wrote:The construction of the Kwinana Refinery will be complete by the end of February 1955. At the peak of construction fifty-three buses were running to and from the site each day.
20 January 1955 wrote:Mr Adams had been successful with AIO re Bedfords and Metro had received a letter of acceptance of their offer of £80,000 for 42 Bedfords (£1905 ea).
3 February 1955 wrote:Anglo Iranian Oil had handed over to Metro 21 Bedford buses under the agreement and Metro had paid them £40,000.
17 February 1955 wrote:The Manager advised that Metro had already sold 23 Bedford buses and 2 semi-trailers
^^^ This figure includes 7 other Bedfords, possibly OBs, acquired from another bus operator, Pioneer; the remaining sixteen are most probably those mentioned in the next quote.
26 May 1955 wrote:The Manager advised that 16 SB Bedford buses had been sold to S A Cheney Ltd of Melbourne for £2400 each. Attwood Motors would be paid a commission of £150 per bus and Metro to put buses on rail at Kalgoorlie. Half the cost of delivery to Kalgoorlie would be deducted from Attwood's Commission.

(Purchase price from AIO £1905, sale price £2400, profit £495 less commission to Attwoods of, says, £125 = net profit of £370 x 16 = £5920)

It is interesting to note that there is a gap in the block of fleet nos for Bedford SBs that entered service after 1953, ie numbers 135-142, 144-150, and 168 were missing from the block 130-169 (143 was a stray Leyland Tiger OPS1 acquired third hand). These sixteen were presumably those sold to S A Cheney.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Wed May 06, 2009 10:49 pm

No. I don't mind at all about the extra info. As it turns out, we are talking about the operator of the largest fleet of these vehicles, so it would seem quite appropriate for this story to be included.

The thing about history is that there are always different versions, even if we are talking about an event that occurred yesterday. The notes supplied by Emlyn David make for fascinating reading, especially when compared with the T&BT info. It's funny, the more you learn about a particular issue, the more questions are raised. For instance, there is one line about the buses being returned to Metro painted in Metro colours. Does that suggest that they were in another livery whilst on Kwinana duties or just that they were going to get a new paint job?

Mr David doesn't have that elusive photo of 42 CAC SBs lined up does he?

Good stuff.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Herbert » Wed May 06, 2009 11:14 pm

Unfortunately most of the quotes are based on a summary of the Board Minutes rather than the actual text, thus I think a bit of ambiguity may have crept in. I think it is saying that, although owned by AIO, to all appearances they will be Metro buses in Metro livery, with Metro fleet nos, driven by Metro drivers.

... Oh, and, sorry, still not that elusive photo! I did do a search of the Battye Library database the other night. Lots of photos of the construction & opening, but not a single SB in sight!
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Herbert » Sat May 30, 2009 3:09 am

Delving in the Metro archives over the last two weeks, I'm now able to confirm that the 42 Bedford SBs involved in the Kwinana Oil Refinery project carried Metro fleet nos 151-192 (ie not as I previously thought).

16 are recorded as being sold to Cheyney & Co, viz fleet nos 168, 170-174, 176-181, 186-189.

Unfortunately there are no chassis or body nos listed, which unfortunately won't help in matching subsequent Victorian histories with individual buses.

There was a 43rd Bedford that very briefly entered the Metro fleet for a specific purpose during the Kwinana project. It was described as "a small Bedford" ex-the Metro subsidiary Tourist Omnibus Service. It carried fleet no 22 between 28.02.1954 and 31.05.1954. This was possibly a bonneted OB.

There were many more Bedfords that saw service with Metro, including a sizeable number of OBs of which I was previously unaware, on top of a number acquired second-hand. Further details when I've finished collating the gen.

And still no photo :cry:
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Carlisle 8 » Sun May 31, 2009 4:38 am

Herbert wrote:

There was a 43rd Bedford that very briefly entered the Metro fleet for a specific purpose during the Kwinana project. It was described as "a small Bedford" ex-the Metro subsidiary Tourist Omnibus Service. It carried fleet no 22 between 28.02.1954 and 31.05.1954. This was possibly a bonneted OB.



I remember a CAC bodied OB in Metro Tours service, but I don't know whether it ever joined the main Metro fleet.

I am not refuting the possibility of there having been a bonneted OB in Metro Tours service, but I never saw one.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby Herbert » Sun May 31, 2009 12:33 pm

The LISWA on-line photo archives show two Bedford OBs in TOS livery - one bonneted called Miss Yallingup, the other your regular old bathtub OB. Which ever of the two became the third (possibly the fourth) incarnation of Metro fleet no 22 would surely have been with Metro too briefly to have worn Metro colours (ie 28 Feb to 31 May 1954 only). Unfortunately the information isn't any more specific, except that it reported it as being a "short" Bedford. I would hazard a guess, however, that it was the bonneted OB since I would doubt that a 4 year old "coach" would have been withdrawn from the TOS fleet & assigned such a task.
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby dodgsun » Wed Jul 08, 2009 12:27 am

Excellent!!!! i found one of these 2weeks ago in good condition (kinda)..and of course Google is your friend (thats how i found this thread) ;)
You can still see the "school bus" stickers under the green paint on the rear. and still has the Tassie rego plates on it. and now in Perth!!!???

Image Image

so now at least i know what it is! It's been converted to a home and seems to be complete.has a Holden 202 "red" and 4sp.??? dunno if i'll get it or not yet.....

then today while driving i spied this!!!!

Image Image

now i've seen 2 in two weeks!!!....amazing eh ;)
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Re: The CAC bus - Part 2, the first SB

Postby system improver » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:13 am

Hi dodgsun, the body number for these can be found just under the dash of the near (door) side, on a plate. It would be M-33 xxx. My list is nowhere complete, but if you find a number, it might be on it.
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