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Leyland National Bus

The Leyland National is a true ‘Marmite bus’. But love it or loathe it, the National played a seminal role in British bus history and, in 2022, it celebrates its 50th birthday.

National 6
National 7
National 3
National 4
National 1

We love an underdog here at Rapido Trains UK and given that the National celebrates such a milestone this year, we’re delighted to announce that we’re adding it to our growing range of 1:76 scale buses and coaches.

The National was born when the newly formed British Leyland Motors Holdings joined forces with the equally new National Bus Company to build a standard single decker that was suitable for all areas of the country. Hence its name.

The new bus was unveiled at the 1970 Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court and visitors took in its modular construction, Michelotti styling and distinctive roof-mounted ventilation pod. In a bid to level up the country’s economy, it was to be built at a brand new factory in Workington, which was suffering with the decline in the Cumberland steel industry.

ERM35K was the first National to be handed over to an operator on March 13th 1972. Symbolically, it was Cumberland. Production got into full swing but reaction was mixed. For some operators and passengers alike, the new buses were a revelation; others were less enamoured.

Orders (including export orders) were steady but the Workington factory’s National production line never ran at full capacity. Other avenues were explored, from 1978’s low-cost Series B version, which lacked the roof pod, to using body parts on new railcars.

National 2
National 8
National 5
National 9

The National Mk 2 made a low-key debut in 1979 and the most obvious change was the bulbous nose, which covered a front-mounted radiator. More subtle were the changes to the rear panel.

Mk 2 production continued until 1985 when Halton Borough Transport received the last, C49OCM. Workington switched to making the National’s replacement, the Leyland Lynx leaving the National, like most BL products, to divide opinion, something that continues today, a half century after its introduction.

We’re delighted to give the Leyland National the Rapido treatment, with finely detailed interior and exterior, front wheels that steer and lights. The full range, livery options and prices have yet to be confirmed and you can have your say on what versions and liveries we produce by filling in the form below.

We wish to thank Transport Museum Wythall for its help with our Leyland National project.


• 100% accurate proportions based on laser scan of the real thing
• Injection-moulded plastic and metal construction
• All body weld lines, extrusions and rivets accurately rendered
• Full, multi-coloured interior with no large posts blocking aisles
• Separate etched-metal interior grab poles
• Steerable front wheels with rubber tyres
• Flush-fitting windows
• Accurate, even paint finish that does not obscure the details

Full details of liveries, fleet numbers and costs will follow in due course.

This project is in its infancy but we were too excited not to tell you! You can have your say by completing the form below: