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Meeting 27 July 2021 @ 7.30pm

Steven Haby, Secretary Librarian at the Prahran Mechanics’ Institute Library will be the guest speaker for our virtual July meeting via Zoom.

Steven will speak on the topic of A ‘standard’ bus: the CAC / Comair.

Camden Bus Service (11) JFF-416 a Bedford SB5 / Comair from 1965 at Chadstone. Image (c) Bus and Coach Society of Victoria.

Following the end of hostilities in 1945 many heavy engineering firms that had focused on supporting the war effort in Australia turned their attention to new products and opportunities and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation (CAC) was no exception. Utilsing their highly trained and skilled workforce they turned their attention to civilian aircraft but also buses. The first CAC bus was released with much fanfair in 1948 on a Bedford ‘OB’ chassis. Soon bus operators were lining up to purchase this new, well built and stylish bus to operate everything from a school bus route, suburban routes to even interstate express and tour work.

Over the years the CAC bus went through various design changes and improvements and was rebranded ‘Comair’. A deal was struck initially with GMH which was nearby to provide chassis for these buses and later the Bus Proprietors Association of Victoria became a sales agent. Soon the CAC / Comair bus became a ‘standard’ vehicle in most bus fleets in Victoria but also in South Australia, WA and Queensland.

Steven first became interested in buses as a young lad in the 1970s and used to travel on Comair bodied buses regularly. To him the CAC / Comair bus epitomises a typical Victorian bus company.

His presentation will chart the history of these remarkable buses from 1948 through to the late 1970s when production ceased but then briefly resumed in the early 1980s.

Hawthorn Bus Service’s HPP-569 a Bedford ‘SB3’ with Comair ‘turtleback’ bodywork (a name given due to the curved roof line). This bus was also known as ‘shark fronts’ due to the front design around the radiator. (c) Graeme Turnbull courtesy of the Bus and Coach Society of Victoria

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Acknowledgement of Traditional Custodians

We respectfully acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we meet and work, the Bunurong Boon Wurrung and Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung peoples of the Eastern Kulin Nation and pay respect to their Elders past, present and emerging.