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SNAPSHOT 176: 1920 A.E.C. Charabanc

This lovely airbrushed illustration is appropriately captioned ‘Reproduced from Snapshot’.  It depicts a 1920 A.E.C. with a charabanc body, sitting outside an imposing building.

It is likely that this charabanc is based on a wartime lorry.  Indeed, there is a picture on the internet of the same type of vehicle, captioned: ‘A.E.C. charabanc – circa 1920 – probably on an ex-W.D. [War Department] “Y-Type” chassis’.  Further digging reveals that these vehicles were powered by Tylor JB 4-cylinder petrol engines of various sizes.

The Associated Equipment Company built buses, coaches and lorries from 1912 until 1979. The full name was hardly ever used; instead it traded under the AEC and ACLO brands.  The company had its origins in the London General Omnibus Company, or LGOC, founded in 1855 to amalgamate and regulate the horse-drawn omnibus services then operating in London. The company began producing motor omnibuses for its own use in 1909 with the X-type designed by its chief motor engineer, Frank Searle, at works in Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, London. The X-type was followed by Searle’s B-type design, one of the first mass-produced commercial vehicles.

In 1912, LGOC was taken over by the Underground Group of companies, and reorganisation led to the renaming of the bus manufacturing part of the company as Associated Equipment Company, better-known as A.E.C.

With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, A.E.C.’s ability to produce large numbers of vehicles using assembly-line methods became important in supplying the increasing need for army lorries. Large-scale production of the 3-ton Y-type lorry started in 1916, and continued beyond the end of the war. From then on, A.E.C. became associated with both lorries and buses.

There are several advertisements in the 1920 period, offering surplus stock of A.E.C. wartime chassis.  There is even an advertisement that offers ex-London General Omnibus Company charabancs that can be “converted into lorries in 30 minutes.”  So the post-war entrepreneur could decide very quickly whether there was more money to be made from passengers or freight, and make the switch accordingly.  We are very glad that someone decided to build a charabanc on our Y-Type, and to produce this illustration to promote its qualities.

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