Plaxton Paramount II 4000 and 3500 coaches
|Body and chassis|
|Floor type||Step entrance|
Paramount 3200 and 3500:|
Bedford Y series
Leyland Royal Tiger
Quest 80 VM
Auwärter (Neoplan) N722
The Paramount had squarer lines than its predecessor the Supreme, with cleaner lines, a flatter roof line and square-cornered side windows including a small "feature window" just behind the front wheelarch. Forward of this, the window line sloped downwards to meet the deeper windscreen. The rear was similar to Supreme V and VI but all else was new.
Structurally the new Paramount was similar to the Supreme, utilising 25mm square tubing to form the frame. The whole structure was treated inside and out to resist rusting.
Although the previous Supreme was of all steel construction, that applied mainly to the actual structure of the coach as the panelling was individual aluminium which can be easily shaped and formed, and easy to replace and featured the Plaxton special flush finish, but aluminium suffers in hot weather from a rippling effect. The Paramount however utilised a continuous steel panel below the windows that was Zintec-coated for corrosion protection, requiring fewer side mountings having been stretched into place and gave a sleeker finish. The front and rear panels used GRP as did many previous Plaxton coach ranges. According to Plaxton brochures the roof was one piece GRP and as such unlikely to leak unlike some of the Paramount's competitors.
Initially the Paramount was available in single-deck form only, in two heights, the Paramount 3200 (initially available in 8, 10, 11 and 12-metre lengths) and the high-floor Paramount 3500 (available in 11 and 12-metre lengths, although only three eleven-metre 3500s were built). The figures 3200 and 3500 refer to the height in millimetres.
In 1984 the design was adapted to create the Paramount 4000 double-decker coach, initially built on Neoplan underframes. Neoplan's Skyliner coach had popularised the use of the double-decker coach layout, often with a galley, toilet and other amenities on the lower deck. By comparison the Plaxton design was somewhat more utilitarian, usually more focused on higher capacity than on luxury. Later it was also offered on Scania and DAF chassis.
The Paramount II, the first update to the original single-deck design, was later launched for the 1985 season. It incorporated only minor visual changes, gone was the black full width grille moulding above the headlights and the "hole" like appearance of the centre of the grille between the lights. The rectangular headlights were retained within a bright silver like surround. Other modifications included deeper parcel racks that were capable of supporting air conditioning. A tweed like material was used to cover the interior skirt and a large part of the racks. Some important options were introduced, most notably bonded glazing, alongside the gasket glazing.
A low driving position option was also made available, which had already appeared on some Paramount I bodies on Quest 80 chassis. The driver sat low in the body so the passengers had a better view. On the 3200 version the two-piece 3500 windscreen was used, the headlights being closer to the road than usual. Also new in 1985 was the Paramount 4000RS, on mid-engined Volvo B10MT chassis. This was a 1½-deck version of the 4000, with a small lower deck saloon at the rear.
The Paramount III was launched in 1986, it introduced still stronger body structures than before and to quote a Plaxtons advert of the time "Progress is Paramount". It had bonded glazing as standard, it also introduced some more obvious changes to the design, notably the replacement of the small and sloping "feature windows" (with white screen printing lines) with a pentagonal one immediately behind the cab or door, with Plaxton's "castle" logo being engraved on it. Changes to the front end consisted of a new grille and bumper, and changes to the shape and angle of the windscreen. The rear window contained a blind like decal at the base with a castle badge in the centre. The dashboard consisted of a moulded cabinet; gone was the Formica and wood of the earlier versions. In the centre of the black finished cabinet was a large "castle" logo. Airline style locker doors were now available on the parcel racks to further give a sleek appearance like a 747.
A variant of the Plaxton Paramount III 3500 built to National Express specification on Volvo B10M chassis was named Expressliner. It was fitted with a windowless, moulded plastic rear end featuring an embossed National Express double-N logo. The rear end could be replaced by a standard Paramount rear end when the coach was no longer used for National Express services.
Around 30% of Mark I Paramounts were the 3500 high-floor option, a figure which rose to 34% of Paramount IIs and 55% of Paramount IIIs. The proportion of 12m vehicles also climbed steadily, from 66% of Paramount Is, 74% of Paramount IIs, to 91% of Paramount IIIs being of the then maximum permitted length.
For single-deck Paramounts, early ones were available on Bedford, Ford, Leyland, Volvo and probably Scania chassis but as the years went by the "lightweight" chassis were ceased by the respective manufacturers. The Bedford YNV also known as the Venturer was available for the Paramount series. The Tiger and Royal Tiger chassis were popular as were Volvo chassis. Some were built on ACE Puma chassis, with Exclesior of Bournemouth took a number with Paramount II low driver position bodywork. The MkIII was also available on Mercedes-Benz rear-engined chassis.
The Paramount was built on numerous different chassis. Here they are listed in approximate decreasing order of number bodied.
Paramount 3200 and 3500
- Volvo B10M
- Leyland Tiger
- Bedford Y-Series
- DAF MB
- DAF SB
- Dennis Javelin
- Scania K92, K112, K93, K113
- Ford R-Series
- Leyland Royal Tiger
- Leyland Leopard
- Dennis Dorchester
- Mercedes-Benz O303
- Quest 80 VM
- Volvo B58
- Bedford VAS
- Ward Dalesman
- ACE Puma
- Auwärter (Neoplan) N722
- DAF SBR3000
- Volvo B10M/B10MT
- Scania K112, K113
From the 1982 to 1988 build seasons, Plaxton's body numbering system used three character codes to identify the body style. The following codes were used for the Paramount:
- P1C Paramount I 3200
- P1X Paramount I 3200 Express
- H1C Paramount I 3500
- H1X Paramount I 3500 Express
- P2C Paramount II 3200
- P2X Paramount II 3200 Express
- H2C Paramount II 3500
- H2X Paramount II 3500 Express
- P3C Paramount III 3200
- P3X Paramount III 3200 Express
- H3C Paramount III 3500
- D1C Paramount 4000
- D2C Paramount II 4000 or 4000RS
The "Express" suffix identifies the variant with a wider entrance and two-piece door. Examples of H1X, H2X and P3X are rare.
Since the 1989 build season, Plaxton's body numbering system has used a letter to identify the body style. The following letters were used for the Paramount III:
- A Paramount III 3200
- B Paramount III 3500
- C Paramount 4000
- D Paramount 4000RS
- Paramount I 3200, on Bedford chassis
- Paramount II 3500 in National Express service
- Paramount II 3500 (with Paramount III bumper)
- Paramount I 3200, on DAF chassis
- Paramount II 3200 with low driving position
- Short wheelbase Paramount on Bedford YMP chassis
- Paramount III 3200 on Volvo chassis
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