AEC Regent GTi

When I was growing up in Exmouth, Devon our local bus services were operated by Devon General. A varied collection of maroon and cream AEC Reliance single deckers and AEC Regent double deckers used to congregate at the bus station in Imperial Road, now long gone. I used to love riding on the superbly melodious Regents, mostly from the CTT5XXC batch. A couple of these still exist and often turn up at bus events in Devon. [Edit – since writing this I’ve driven one of them]

But on occasional visits to Exeter I remember seeing older DG Regents running on city routes which they shared with the City of Exeter green fleet. As a small boy I couldn’t help but be mesmerised by the 1956 batch of open platform AEC Regent V double deckers. It was not so much the sight of them that drew my attention but the sound they made. With registrations beginning with ROD, TTT or VDV, they were unusual beasts in that they were fitted with straight-through exhaust systems. My dad told me this at the time and it turns out to be true. I presume they had no silencers. And boy, what a noise they made!

When accelerating away from a stop or hauling a full load up Fore Street Hill they would, at certain engine revs, emit an ear-splitting rasp from the exhaust. It made them sound really sporty and I’m sure the drivers of the day treated them accordingly!

At least one of these is still with us and someone has posted a video of it, taken during a WHOTT rally in Exeter. Watch this with your speakers turned up!

I sometimes wondered if the distinctive, deafening racket was a threat to the plate glass windows of the shops in the High Street. Why were they fitted with such noisy exhaust systems? Why were they not retro-fitted with quieter systems? With all the fuss nowadays about noise pollution, how can ROD765 continue to run in the 21st century with such a system fitted as standard? Personally, I love the sound. It’s what gives the bus it’s unique character.

Finally, a question. Does any AEC afficionado know of other UK operators of this type that received examples with the same straight-through system?

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2 comments on “AEC Regent GTi

  1. Ian Paterson says:

    Yes, Maidstone & District had 22 delivered in 1956 – 8 Lowbridge and 14 Highbridge. Some had more raucous exhaust sounds than others and were at there best accelerating away in low gear in narrow streets.
    There is one of each type preserved and they will hopefully both be on the road next year.
    My memories of them stem mainly from my local Maidstone route 59. On a clear quiet evening one could sometimes here them pulling off from a stop a couple of miles away.
    Enjoyed the Vintage Bus last week in Torquay and a VRT run to Totnes. What splendid weather.

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