Lahore, Pakistan: October 1975
This is a left-hand drive Van Hool bus that I drove from Istanbul to Delhi with a full load of passengers. It was one of two buses owned and operated by a Dutch sub-contractor of the North London based overland firm, Budget Bus. The bus had an underslung 9.2 litre Fiat engine and five-speed gearbox. This vehicle was a great improvement on the others I’d driven to India previously; for a start, it was in superb condition and never broke down – it didn’t even have a puncture, which would’ve been easier to deal with as it had Tri-lex wheels. Another thing it had was an effective (engine) exhaust brake.
The photo shows the large overhang at the rear of the bus; in fact, 17 passengers sat behind the rear axle centreline.
The 45-seater bus was photographed while parked in the cheap-hotel district of Lahore, not far from the main railway station. The windscreen had been shattered by a stone on a dirt road in north-east Iran, so we’d driven from there with the front of the bus open to whatever came in – luckily, the dirt roads finished soon after the screen went, the main road through Afghanistan is sealed, as is the Grand Trunk Road through Pakistan and India. Every night, at least two people slept in the bus to look after the vehicle; there was never any shortage of volunteers for this as many passengers preferred to save money by doing so. A replacement windscreen was made by hand from perspex sheet in a Delhi workshop; about a dozen men and boys were involved in making a cardboard template for the shape of the screen, cutting it out in two halves from a large sheet of clear perspex, and hot-forming the (single) curvature with the careful use of paraffin blowlamps. This operation took a whole morning; the end result was a perfect fitting two-piece, or split windscreen, with an aluminium strip down the centre of it. Perhaps fortunately, I never had to use the windscreen wipers from Delhi to Kathmandu, where the bus was going to be sold – any use of the windscreen wipers would have soon scratched the perspex, reducing visibilty through it.
Posted by Dave Tapsell on 2014-05-24 23:24:06
Tagged: , india+overland , budget+bus