by Rod Ward
Auto Review 135 told the story of AEC from the beginning up to 1945. This publication completes the history of the Southall company to 1977, when the brand name was discontinued. The 1940s saw postwar expansion by AEC, with the acquisition in 1948 of two competing makers of buses and goods vehicles, Crossley and Maudslay. Park Royal Vehicles of London and its subsidiary Charles Roe of Leeds were also taken over, making up a large section of the British bus body building industry, when Crossley’s share was added. The combined firms were gathered under one sales organisation, called Associated Commercial Vehicles (ACV). After 1945 the prewar bus and coach range was relaunched and improved, Regent double-deckers and Regal single-deckers. For London Transport these vehicles were classed as RT and RF, followed by the integral-construction Routemaster (RM). In 1962 ACV acquired Thornycroft, another British vehicle manufacturer. AEC goods vehicles were popular with British hauliers and export customers, though after the takeover of ACV by Leyland, which also happened in 1962, much of AEC’s individuality was lost. Lorries in the Mammoth, Marshal and Militant families, along with Reliance, Swift and Merlin single-decker chassis and Bridgemaster and Renown double-deckers, were produced until 1977, and the factory finally closed in 1979.