XSS43Y is an example of the type of bus used in very large numbers by many Scottish and some English operators from the mid 1960s onwards. The combination of the rugged Leyland Leopard chassis with the stylish and well built Alexander Y type body created one of the most popular and versatile buses Scotland has ever produced.
Although the Y type body was used with other chassis, such as Ford, Seddon and Albion, the most popular choice for operators was the Leyland Leopard. Over 500 such vehicles were produced from the late 1960s up to 1982. The Leopard chassied Y type proved to be ideal for both rural and town services, with vehicles even being used on Glasgow to London express motorway coach services for many years.
XSS43Y was ordered by Alexander's (Northern) Limited in August 1981. Although not realised at the time of ordering, it turned out to be the last Y type body to be combined with a Leopard chassis. As such, it is a very historical vehicle, the last of many hundreds of successful, archetypal vehicles to be made.
When XSS43Y was delivered to Northern in December 1982 it wore their distinctive yellow and cream livery and was allocated to Montrose depot. It was given the fleet number NPE43. Following deregulation in 1985 XSS43Y passed to new operators Strathtay Scottish. It remained at Montrose but was repainted into Strathtay’s orange and blue and given the fleet number SL43 (Strathtay Leopard 43). In March 1993 Strathtay was privatised and bought by the Yorkshire Traction group. In common with the rest of Strathtay’s fleet XSS43Y was renumbered from SL43 to 543.
543 remained allocated to Montrose until 2000 when it was transferred to Blairgowrie depot. It stayed there for little more than a year before being sent to work from Dundee. 543 was used mainly on school and peak time commuter services until June 2003. Because it was not fitted with seat belts, and with newer vehicles coming to the fleet, the decision was made to withdraw 543 from service.
When 543 was bought for preservation its condition was tidy but lived in. Possibly because of its historic importance the interior had not been altered in any way (most of Strathtay’s last Leopards were fitted with seat belts for use on school contracts).
The owners have stripped the vehicle down to bare metal and restored the bus to its 1987 condition with Strathtay Scottish fleetnames and SL43 fleet number. The bus made its debut in this condition at the Y-type 50th anniversary running day at Lathalmond in September 2011.