The 1950s Underfloor Revolution : The Harrington Wayfarer

The Wayfarer body was first introduced in 1950 for fitting to the new generation of under-floor engine chassis. The body was initially designed for fitting to either the Leyland Royal Tiger or the AEC Regal IV. Later, three were fitted to the Foden rear engine chassis and one to a Maudsley although this was really a Regal IV in all but badge. This was the first time a name had been used to describe one of the body styles. Wayfarer may sound a little prosaic to modern ears but at the time it was a term commonly used as the happy traveller was encouraged to enjoy the highways and byways of Britain, freed from the hardship of the war years. Only the minority would have been able to enjoy this by private car and the coaching heyday was in full swing.

There is some evidence to suggest that the Mk2 and Mk3 Wayfarer designation was not used by the factory. Indeed, various other names are known to have been suggested through-out the fifties, but these usually only appeared on show or demonstrator coaches and were not generally taken up. Certainly the final version of the four coaches pictured below was advertised as simply the Harrington "Mk. IV" without actually making reference to the name. So... Mk.IV of what? In sorting out the muddle the factory never really sought to resolve, enthusiasts have tended assume that Mk.IV went with Wayfarer, and have come up with the sequence below. The designation Mk.2 seems apropriate to represent the coaches with a significant change in frontal appearance from the original Wayfarer. And the Mk.3 looks different again, so it seems to fit neatly into the gap.

By the mid-fifties, lightweight chassis fitted with Harrington bodies had slowed to a few a year. With the coming of the Wayfarer, the bodies on Commer, Bedford and other lightweights became more and more like baby Wayfarers, although the Wayfarer name was never used. As far as is known, possibly only two lightweight chassis were fitted with Mk.IV style before Harrington got their act together in 1958 and came up with the Crusader, a design specifically intended for lightweight chassis.

Wayfarer 1Wayfarer 2Wayfarer 3Wayfarer 4

Click cursor over image to go to the detail pages of the Harrington Wayfarer series.

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2004 N.L.E.Webster