Browsing through the catalogue of the Commercial Motor Transport Exhibition held from 29th October to 7th November 1925 at Olympia, I was interested to see what Dennis Bros Ltd. had to offer on stand 84.
This was the year they introduced their "30cwt New Model Worm Drive Chassis" and "40hp 4 Cylinder Dennis E Type New Model Low Loading Worm Drive Overtype Chassis" to quote the catalogue. They exhibited the 30cwt chassis fitted with pressed steel wheels and a cushion tyre as spare at £375. Also a 30cwt with box van body with cast steel wheels and cushion tyres at £350. A body in lead primer was £75. For £14 extra one could opt for the luxury of a self starter.
Their advertisement in the catalogue showed a drawing of a 30cwt fitted with their 16 seat rear entrance saloon bus body for the Penn Bus Co of Buckinghamshire. Some of the features they pointed out included the 85mm x 120mm bore and stroke 4 cylinder engine cast en bloc, developing 33hp at 1560rpm, with detachable head, unit construction 4 speed gearbox, spherically headed torque tube, dynamo lighting, speedometer and mileage recorder. Consumption: Petrol 20mpg, oil 800mpg. 1 in 4 3/4 gradients negotiable with full load.
The "E" type was exhibited in chassis form and also one fitted with their own 33 seat body, "the floor of which can be reached by one step only." The catalogue goes into the "E" type in some detail and I quote from it. "Engine 110mm bore x 150mm stroke, cylinders cast en bloc, detachable heads, developing up to 70hp. Carburettor gravity feed; lubrication by pump; water circulation by centrifugal pump; waterproof magneto; Ferodo-lined external cone clutch; 4 speeds forward and reverse; right-hand control; front axle "H" section stamping; disc wheels; worm gear final drive; front and rear wheels fitted with fabric-lined brakes, servo operated; hand brake works independently on rear wheels, 6 brakes in all; height of frame above ground 24in; wheelbase 16ft; 36 x 6 straight sided pneumatic tyres, single front and twin rear. Price of chassis with a complete equipment of tools and speedo, £885. Extra for self starter, £20; For air pump £10." The cost of the Dennis body is not given.
Another PSV on the stand was an example of the 50cwt model, complete with Dennis 30 seat rear entrance bus body. It was of 40hp with cylinders cast in pairs, 115mm x 150mm bore and stroke. 115ft wheelbase with pneumatic tyres and a track of 5ft 2in. Total unladen weight of 14cwt. Chassis £725, body £425, 12volt dynamo lighting set £50 extra. According to the PSV Circle fleet history of Aldershot & District (2PK3) the identity of this vehicle was PE6859, chassis No 45132. A&D bonnet No D117.
Also on the stand was a 60/70hp 500/700 gallon motor fire engine fitted with the Dennis Patent Turbine Pump complete at £1470 and a 40hp 4 ton lorry with a chassis price of £750. Dennis vehicles were also to be found on other stands. Short Bros (Rochester & Bedford) Ltd showed a 30cwt model with a 16 seat saloon bus body upholstered in mole antique leather with an interior finish of blue Rexine and white enamel. Price complete £620, body only £245.
John C Beadle Ltd of Dartford showed a special brewery type lorry body on the 50cwt 13ft wheelbase chassis at £755 complete. Christopher Dodson Ltd of Willesden had a Dennis 4 ton "Special Omnibus" chassis with a covered top 51 seat double deck body. (Who was this bus destined for? Obviously not for a London independent.) No price was given. Finally Strachan & Brown of North Acton displayed a Dennis 50cwt chassis with a 30 seat rear entrance service bus body at a price complete of £1217, being more expensive than the all Dennis version.
I discovered two companies who supplied Dennis with radiators. The Spiral Tube & Components Co of London N1 and Derby. Also COVRAD (The Coventry Radiator Co) who showed illustrations of the "E" type.
Comparing specifications and prices in the catalogue shows a surprising contrast between the different makes. The Leylands of pre-George Rackham days were relatively expensive and all models still had only transmission and rear wheel brakes. Front wheel brakes cost £45 extra. The Lioness normal control 26 seat bus with pneumatics was £1320. The Lion 31 seat forward control was £1475. The Levethian double deck with 52 seats cost £1905. The Bristol "Heavy Passenger Chassis" with 32 seat body was available at £1500 on cushion tyres, £1000 for the chassis. Pneumatics and electric lighting, an extra £160. The 2 ton 20 seat bus on cushion tyres was £1050, extra for pneumatics and electric lighting.
This article previously appeared in Newsletter no31, May 2001