From Our Collection
Birmingham City Transport OV 4090
The Dictator chassis was designed by Charles K Edwards, who until 1928 was Chief Engineer of AEC.
Edwards had been partly responsible for the revolutionary London General "K" type (AEC 301) of 1919 where the driver was placed alongside the engine creating the classic British half cab bus.
In 1923 Edwards again was at the forefront of bus design with the introduction by AEC of the London General NS (AEC 405) type which had a very low chassis frame aimed at making operation of top covered double deck buses more acceptable by reducing the overall height and centre of gravity considerably.
However, even with these achievements, Edwards was not able to produce designs that could compete with the emergence of buses like the Leyland Titan and Tiger. By the end of the 1920's even after a short term union with Daimler as ADC the AEC company lacked competitive designs. AEC through its parent the Underground Group "headhunted" Leyland's Chief Engineer and the sidelined Edwards who left to take up a similar position with Morris Commercial in 1929, who were trying to break into the heavy bus and truck market.
The Dictator looked similar to the earlier Edwards designed ADC 426 and later AEC 660 Reliance and Daimler CF6 but had the novel feature of a front sub frame that allowed the front axle, engine and gearbox to be removed as a unit by removing a few bolts to improve serviceing accessibility. This feature was successfully revived in the mid 1950's on the famous AEC Routemaster of London Transport.
The body by local manufacturer Metropolitan Cammell was one of the earliest examples of what was to become a trendsetting steel body structure developed by a team lead by Colin Bailey. The design still influences bus body structures that are built today.
The Dictator was never a sales success, being a 1920's concept competing with the much more modern and contantly evolving designs of the 1930's.
Birmingham bought Morris to support local industry at the height of the world trade depression, abandoning its traditional supplier AEC. But for this, it is likely that the AEC Regal (the single deck equivalent to the Regent) may have been chosen which would have undoubtedly been a better investment.