Before the Routemaster: The legendary AEC Regent III RT and RF buses

Incredible history records of the RT fleet i.e. snapshot of RT3251 LLU 610

This bus started life in July 1950 making its final service run April 1979.

It is incredible these machines have been kept and a testament to those that continue to maintain them, the London Bus Museum. 

RT buse in the garage
RT buse in the garage

Did you used to work on these beautiful machines? Check out the comments below from those who did, and join the conversation

To all former mechanics, drivers and conductors, AEC RT & RF Buses Tweet

The story of AEC Regent III RT bus

This magnificent bus was designed in Great Britain in the 1930s by the British vehicle manufacturer Associated Equipment Company (AEC), who built trucks and buses form 1912 to 1979.  The AEC Regent III RT prototype hit the road in 1938, named aptly as London Transport RT 1.

London Transport in this pre war period ordered 338 of the bus type which shrank to 150 as the dark skies of world war 2 over shadowed London and the rest of the world.

price tag of £4000 pounds including the seats and AEC engine.

The very first pre-war RT went into service in 1939 and the last the (RT624) came out of London Transport service in 1979. Built with a ACE engine which lasted 40 years of driving.

In total, London transport received 4,674 war RT class buses were built in the space of 7 years in 1947 to 1954.The very last RT, now it is preserved by ensignbus it used to operate on the route 62 for Barking garage on the 7th of April 1979.

RT Buses on the big screen

No Black and white movie showing London is complete without an appearance of an AEC RT Regent bus. 

The RT buses (when they were retired) were brought back for film and tv work. In the Harry Potter movie they the designers created the RT bus into a triple decker bus known as the Knight Bus (in the Movie Harry Potter and the prisoner of Azkaban)

Another example was when the RT bus was featured in the James bond movie (live and let die) and probably best of all known RT buses, Cliff Richard dives an RT bus in the 1963 comedy movie ‘Summer holidays’


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Before the Routemaster: The legendary AEC Regent III RT and RF buses 4

RT buses outside of London 

London Transport was not the only recipient of RT buses, during the 1940s and 1950s RT chassis where sold to Glasgow , Rhonda, Aberdeen, West Riding, Halifax, Grimsby, Birmingham, Devon, Coventry and St Helens. Between 1946 to 1951 some 101 RT chassis were delivered to 10 other operators

The Glasgow Corporation, single RT bus; reg: DGB 371, was meant to appear at the commercial vehicle show of 1939, but unfortunately the show got cancelled due to the outbreak of world war 2.

The RT buses outside of London, not only carried different liveries but also carried different designed bodies, from coach works such as, Weymann, Roe, Northern Counties, Park Royal and Metro-Cammell.

For more research and photographs on this particular topic, please take a look at this site RT Buses outside London

What is the difference between AEC Regent III RT bus and the New Route Master bus in Numbers

  • Engine Capacity:

    • RT Bus 9.6 Litres,
    • New Route master 4.5 Litres plus 18kw hybrid electric motor
  • Length:

    • RT Bus 26ft 
    • New Route master 36ft
  • Width:

    • RT Bus 7ft 6
    • New Route master  8ft 3 
  • Height:

    • RT Bus 14ft 5
    • New Route master 14ft 4
  • Seating Capacity

    • RT Bus 56 (how many could stand?)
    • New Route master  80 (includes 25 standing)

The world of London RT & RF Buses

Take a peek inside the world of vintage RT London Buses, entered service 80 years ago this year. To celebrate the last journey in Barking 40 years ago in 1979, the finest collection of RT buses in the world, were driving again through the streets of Barking. 30th March 2019. Courtesy of the London Bus Museum.

Filming of RT and RF buses through the streets of Barking, RT80 anniversary

RT green bus side
RT green bus side
A gold RT with a queue of passengers
A gold RT with a queue of passengers
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Paul Russell
3 months ago

What was the bus that preceded the RT in London and the Bristol Lodekka in Essex?

Duncan Kirkwood
1 year ago

I worked on RT and RF buses in 1969/71 when employed as Acting Night Chargehand Bus Mechanic at Leatherhead London Country Bus Co. Garage … can someone please remind what types of nuts / bolts were used … would they have been UNF or Whitworth? … Unlikely they were AF. I was issued with a standard tool kit comprising: hammer, brake adjuster socket (used frequently) two screwdrivers (one small one large), three open ended spanners, two ring spanners and a couple of box spanners with a bar … these few tools enabled completion of most maintenance tasks … most mechanics gradually bought their own socket sets which were very expensive … in those days there were no quality Taiwanese / Chinese tools … all socket sets on sale were of UK or European manufacture.

Henry Harwood
1 year ago

I notice in all historic reference to the RT, no one has ever made reference to the experimental derivative; the RTC 1. This was an experimental Greenline Coach version, that did not, for whatever reason, prove successful.
It was after trials, allocated to Leatherhead Garage and worked Route 468, from Chessington Zoo to Bookham or Effingham, I can’t remember which, via Epsom, for many years from 1948.
Does anyone know more about this?

1 year ago
Reply to  Henry Harwood
Jeff White
1 year ago

Drove RTs for the first 7 years on this job, last one was RT 2541 a sub on route 180 in August 1978. Now driving hybrids on night buses out of Plumstead. I have always harboured an ambition to drive a pre-war example.
Jeff White

David simpson
2 years ago

Great bus the RT drove one 163 from new cross I was 21 they had just drop the she requirement from 25 parliament hill to plumstead common with my conductor Newley arrived Kiefe Cave from Barbadious (I’ll have a barley wine ) we used to split up the spare change he couldn’t count to well and have a pint at both ends where we had our break quite often in the pub ??

2 years ago

great times working on these as a mechanic during the 1960,s at Ponders End ,and Palmers Green

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