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The CAC Bus - Part 4, The Comair

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The CAC Bus - Part 4, The Comair

Postby system improver » Sat May 02, 2009 7:49 pm


In early 1960, while the curved screen SB3 was still in production, now being marketed by Bus Sales, the sales organisation associated by the Bus Proprietors’ Association, and then called the Road Passenger Service Operators’ Association (R.P.S.O.A), CAC design staff were working on a brand new body design. Whilst it would still be produced using the same "aircraft like" construction techniques, improvements in window design, fabrics, laminates and fibre glass moulding were to feature in this new design. But there were four other significant design changes as well. First, a two door version was to be reintroduced for the SB3 Bedford, this time with the door placed near the centre of the body. Second, the Bedford SB1 diesel chassis would be offered (when available). Third, and more revolutionary, the body was to be offered on a heavy duty chassis with a full forward entrance, the chassis chosen was the Leyland Royal Tiger Cub (more on that in Part 5). And finally, for the first time, the actual body manufacturer would be acknowledged in the name of the vehicle – the Comair!


A prototype was produced (the first prototype used since the OB) on a Bedford SB3 and was registered on 31/10/60 as HFP 752. It undertook extensive trials throughout Victoria on a variety of road conditions.

Here is the prototype after sale to USBL:

Five months later, the first production vehicle rolled off the production line and was sold to a NSW operator, Western Road Transport Service of Wentworthville (56 curved screens having been produced in the interim). The second production vehicle went to Graeber’s BS of Lobethal SA. The first Comair to a Victorian operator was CAV12 - 4 (I have never known what this CAC code officially stands for, but I assume CAV stands for Commonwealth Aircraft Vehicle, though I'm not sure what the 12 stands for) and went to Point Cook - Werribee PS, Laverton and registered HJJ 666 on 21/4/61. Over the next 18 months, 190 were produced, including nine 2 door versions.

During this period, the SB1 chassis (4.9 litres) finally became available from Britain and the first vehicle went to Granger’s BS of Williamstown in May 1961 and the second to Tom Jones at Murrumbeena Bus Service:

Here are some more examples:
Grenda's took this SB3 41 seater 18/10/61:

Ventura replaced most of its OBs with a number of SB1s, this one new 20/6/62 with perimeter seating:

Shave's SB3 was a rare new vehicle to the company in 8/10/62:

As betrayed by its desto, this SB1 was new to Tongabbie Transport Service 24/11/61 and originally reg MO 4481:

One of 8 Comair SB3s to MTT Perth, this one was new 3/62:

Bedford replaced this diesel version with the larger capacity SB5 (5.3 litres) and the first of these went to Latrobe Valley BL in August 1962. The recessed front of the first Comair had it variously referred to as the “shark mouth” or “man eater” amongst other terms. It was certainly different, although one or two other body builders chose to copy the feature. Some companies chose to paint the recessed part with the minor colour of their livery which made it look quite attractive. The windows had always been problematical in CAC buses, especially regarding their capacity to rattle, but the Beclawat windows fitted to the Comair, in rubber surrounds, solved this problem once and for all. Whilst not the cheapest bus on the market, the quality of the vehicles rolling off the production line was unsurpassed anywhere in Australia and its sales was evidence of this (three per working week). The one thing which didn’t change in the design was the rear window, although some operators chose to replace it over time with a Perspex alternative, like the MTT Perth.


The only preserved vehicle of this type was new to McGeary's Parlor Coaches in 1962 and went to Australian Pacific and then US Bus Lines.

The advertisements which appeared in T&BT, and the photographers are: John Masterton (pics 4 & 9), Bruce Tilley (pics 1,2,5 & 7), Nick Pusenjak (pic 6) and Paul Kennelly (pics 3 &8).
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Re: The CAC Bus - Part 4, The Comair

Postby beddy » Sun May 03, 2009 9:49 am

Thanks for that system improver! The Ad states that powersteering and Air suspension could be optioned, I don't think many buses could of had it at the time, although i could be wrong. I Am awaiting part 5 With anticipation
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Re: The CAC Bus - Part 4, The Comair

Postby stevegj52 » Sun May 03, 2009 11:34 am

As usual very interesting looking forward to pt 5.
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Re: The CAC Bus - Part 4, The Comair

Postby adx666 » Fri May 08, 2009 4:40 pm

Beautiful shots and very interesting reading. Thanks for posting system improver!
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