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Courtesy of The Bus Archive, here’s the order Devon General placed with AEC for 8 Regent V chassis, for delivery to the bodybuilder, Willowbrook, by September 1963. (Click to view) The price later increased by £20 per chassis due to an updated BET standard and the variations that Devon General specified.


Continuing serious mechanical problems with its large number of Leyland Atlantean rear-engine double-deckers purchased between 1959 and 1961 forced Devon General to return, for a period, to the tried and tested AEC Regent Mark V with its traditional front-engine and manual gearbox.

And here is the order placed with Willowbrook for the bodywork. (Click to view)

1964 AEC Regent V  503 RUO

These photographs show the various stages of  restoration of  503 RUO


In the event, the seating capacity was reduced to 69 by specifying a single seat on the nearside of the lower saloon. The 8 buses were numbered 501 to 508, which started a new numbering sequence for double-deckers. Delivery of the completed buses was due by March 1964. 503 arrived on 27 February 1964, but 508 missed the deadline, being delivered on 10 April.


503 is representative of this batch. Initially based at Torquay, it soon transferred to Newton Abbot where it ran on Service 11 to Buckfastleigh. From 1968 it saw regular service on the scenic ‘2’ coastal route to Exeter via Teignmouth and Dawlish.



503 returned to Devon in 1982 when it was acquired for continued preservation by Colin Shears. In 1995 it was sold to Ron Greet of Ipplepen and its restoration commenced with renewal of the window rubbers, a brake reline and attention to the bodywork in readiness for repaint. Unfortunately, this was not completed and, after being parked outside for a while, it was acquired by a local preservationist with the aim of completing its restoration.


In late 2013 it was acquired by the Trust, thanks to the generosity of donations, and its restoration is now almost complete.


When the coastal route was converted to one man operation in March 1980, 503 operated the very last duty for a Newton Abbot-based Regent V. It was withdrawn from service soon after and sold to a Surrey based enthusiast for preservation.