Tomorrow the winning designs for the new London bus – better known as the new Routemaster – will be unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson.
The handsome beast you see here is the entry cooked up by me and our German design guru De Lusi, the pen behind many of our superb illustrations.
While it looks like the ‘London Olympian’ will never become a reality, Autocar has reason to be pretty pleased that a new – and much, much greener – London bus will be on the streets before the Olympic games in 2012.
Regulars will know that Autocar kick-started the whole project exactly a year ago when we commissioned UK company (and bus design specialists) Capoco to come up with a proposal for a new-generation Routemaster.
We did it in response to the row that blew up when Johnson – then the Conservative candidate for London Mayor – wondered out loud why a new Routemaster couldn’t be designed to replace the old model sold off and replaced by bendy buses by then-Mayor Ken Livingstone.
Alan Ponsford, boss of Capoco, and his team did us proud with a beautifully thought-out concept based around an aluminum chassis and a self-charging electric drivetrain.
We took the drawings to Boris Johnson in his campaign HQ on the Thames and pressed him to reinvent the belching and rattling diesel bus for the 21st century.
Johnson won the Mayoral election in May and emphasized his determination to build a new Routemaster in his acceptance speech.
The formal competition was kicked off in the summer, and the wining design – chosen with help from bus manufacturers – will be unveiled tomorrow morning in London.
I’ll be there to see the result as a humble hack – and not as the co-author of a new global design icon. Which is a pity.
But Autocar was founded in 1895 ‘in the interests of the mechanically propelled road carriage’ and helped get rid of the law that demanded a man with the red flag walk in front of the first cars.
And 113 years later we’ve been instrumental in reinventing the iconic red London bus and making the case for low-pollution public transport.