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Leyland Comet
1954 Leyland Comet 90 flatbed lorry (ENH 210), 2009 HCVS London to Brighton run.jpg
1954 Leyland Comet 90
ManufacturerLeyland Trucks
Also called
  • Leyland Super Comet
  • Leyland Super Comet '90'
  • 1947-2015
Body and chassis
Body style

The Leyland Comet was a long running badge used by Leyland for a series of trucks (and the occasional bus) intended mainly for export markets. The name lives on in India, where Ashok Leyland still uses the badge today.

First generation

The semi-bonneted original Comet was first shown in December 1947.[1] While intended mainly for export, it was also sold in the home market. The wheelbase is 17.5 ft (5.3 m) and the gross weight 8.75 long tons (8,890 kg).[2] A coach model seating 33, sharing the same front design, appeared in 1948.[1] The cab was built by Briggs Motor Bodies and was shared with the Ford Thames ET6 and Dodge 100.[3] Ford purchased Briggs in 1953, meaning Leyland (and Dodge) were forced to develop new cabs. The original engines were a 75 hp (56 kW) diesel or a 100 hp (75 kW) petrol unit; the petrol version was rarely seen in Britain.[4]

In 1950 the diesel engine was updated to the new 5.76 litre Leyland O.350 unit, now with 90 hp (67 kW). Maximum weight was increased to 12 long tons (12,200 kg); models for tropical zones received a considerably lower rating.[5] In 1955 the maximum power output was increased again, to 100 hp (75 kW) at 2200 rpm, as the new O.350 Mk. III engine replaced the previous version.[5]

Second generation

1956 Leyland Comet 100
1956 Leyland Comet 100

In 1952 a cab over version of the Comet became available. This was sold next to the bonneted model until 1955/56, depending on the market. Power from the Leyland O.350 engine in the bonneted version went from 90 to 100 hp (67 to 75 kW) in 1955. This model continued in production until 1958, although Australian models continued to use this cab into the early 1960s. This model also entered production in India after having received government approval in 1951.[6] Ashok Motors, Ashok Leyland after 1954, manufactured it locally. The original front clip design remained in use into the early 1970s. Ashok Leyland proceeded to develop a simplified local cab design and continued to build the Comet into the 1990s.

Third generation

1963 Leyland Comet (LAD)
1963 Leyland Comet (LAD)

In 1958, as part of an effectivization program, the Comet received a new cab - called the "Vista Vue" cab, it was developed by Albion for a variety of their models. Dodge UK also used it for their 300 model, consequently this cabin shape is often referred to as the "LAD" design. There was also a heavier duty "Super Comet" model introduced, which eventually largely supplanted the "regular" Comet. Also in 1958 the 375 engine, based on the preceding design and rated at 110 hp, became available in the "Vista Vue" cab. Following this, a redesigned engine with cross-flow cylinder head was released. Initially it was a 370 (6.1 litre) at 110 hp, followed by a 400 (6.6 litre) option at 125 hp.

Fourth generation

1969 Leyland Super Comet (Ergomatic)
1969 Leyland Super Comet (Ergomatic)

Introduced in 1964, the fourth generation Comet used the Ergomatic cab, as also used by a number of other Leyland models and other British truck manufacturers in Leyland Motor Corporation, the Ergomatic was built by GKN-Sankey while the LAD was the work of Motor Panels.

Leyland Comet in Jamaica
Leyland Comet in Jamaica

Fifth generation

After a decade and a half in retirement, the "Comet" label was reintroduced in 1986. Again, the model was intended specifically for export markets (primarily in the developing world), with simplified equipment, fewer gears, and a sturdy construction. The design is an all-metal version of the C44 Roadrunner, again simplified in order to make local assembly easier.[7] The design consists of six major pressings, and was designed so as to allow for hand welding on a simple jig. The chassis is made of straight rails. The six-wheeled version is called the "Super Comet". The Comet was part of a new rationalised range and replaced the Terrier, Boxer, Reiver, Landmaster, and Clydesdale models - although there was some resistance to retiring these classic model names in markets where they had a good reputation.[7] Leyland's previous "export special", the Landmaster, had been of a bonneted design, but Leyland determined that the bonneted design was becoming less favored across developing markets.

Fifth Generation Super-Comet in Jamaica
Fifth Generation Super-Comet in Jamaica

Models ranging from 9 to 13 long tons (9,100 to 13,200 kg) received the 115 hp (86 kW) 6-98 NV engine. The 14 long tons (14,200 kg) has the 140 hp (100 kW) Leyland 402, while the heavier 16 long tons (16,300 kg) model and the Super Comets have the 160 hp (120 kW) Leyland 411.[7] With only five speeds, the top speed of a 1986 12-tonne Comet is a mere 54 mph (87 km/h), but this was more than sufficient for conditions in the markets targeted.[8] The primary markets intended for the Comet were English-speaking countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and also some Middle Eastern markets. The Caribbean, Latin America, and Singapore also received some Comets.[7]


  1. ^ a b "Leyland Motors: Comet". British Industrial History. Grace's Guide. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  2. ^ "History of Leyland Motors, Leyland, Lancashire". Made in Preston: the engineer's story. 28 October 2013. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  3. ^ Geoghegan, Simon GP. "Fordson, Ford Thames ET6". Simon Cars. Retrieved 14 May 2014.
  4. ^ "Leyland's Comet was here before". Motor Transport. UK. 1998.
  5. ^ a b "Leyland Comets have More Power". Commercial Motor. 3 June 1955.
  6. ^ "Our World: History". Ashok Leyland. Archived from the original on 12 November 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d Kennett, Pat (June 1986). "What's new: Leyland launch the Comet". TRUCK. London, UK: FF Publishing Ltd: 8.
  8. ^ Kennett, p. 9
This page was last edited on 23 November 2020, at 08:30
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