Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created on 4th July 1998, updated 21st November 1998

The first production bus, RM8

RM8, Motor Show 1958 RM8 was actually the first built of the production buses (the numbers RM5, 6 and 7 being kept at first for the test rig buses), and was the only RM completed during 1958. But it was by no means the first into service, and indeed, it was not even accepted by LT until March 1961. (It finally entered service in March 1976!) It was built to appear at the 1958 Commercial Motor Show in September, where it excited little interest compared with the new generation of rear-engined buses. After that it became the new test bus: it seemed silly to try all modifications on a prototype when they could be tried out on a production vehicle.
RM3 at Duxford, 9/98


Visually it looked much the same as RML3, except for the redesigned bonnet and radiator. The new design was both modern and smart, and has stood the test of time well compared with many of its contemporary "tin-fronts".
The bus incorporated the air control system, with a deep inlet to a radiator above the cab and below the front display, and with small air scoops above the front windows that channelled fresh air into the upper saloon through vents at the front. Therefore the front upper windows were non-opening single panes.

The fuel tank was moved to the offside (ie different from the prototypes and the RTs).

RM8 at Showbus 98.

Mechanically the production Routemaster was an amalgam of features from the prototypes, plus lessons learned during their testing and service trials: RM3 at Showbus, 1997
  • the engine was a derated AEC AV590 9.6 litre diesel;
  • the electro-pneumatic gearbox was automatic for the ordinary gears (2 to 4);
  • braking was hydraulic, but a continuous flow system, not hydrostatic:
  • Power steering was fitted;
  • coil springs front and back;
  • provision for air suspension to be retro-fitted if required;
  • improved shock absorbers.
RM8 at Showbus, 1997

RM8, test front

The test bus

RM8 appeared at the Commercial Motor Show, still owned by AEC/Park Royal, although in LT colours. It then disappeared to Chiswick and its environs, for use as a test bus. The Routemaster class did not have an easy entry into service, and there were a continual stream of problems, especially with brakes, hydraulic systems, automatic gearboxes, air suspension, cooling, heating.... RM8 acted as the engineering mobile test bed for the class for the next seventeen and a half years.
RM8 as test bed for a new design of front brake cooling vents

RM8, LT Jubilee

1976: into service

RM8 finally went into service at Sidcup at the end of March 1976, operating on routes 21, 51, 161 and 228. Is there any other bus that STARTED its public service so long after being built? By this time it had acquired a later radiator grille, with a V-shaped badge in place of the bonnet bullseye. It became the showbus for the RM8 Group, staff at Sidcup garage, who began to exhibit it.

RM8 was painted into the 1933 London Transport style of livery for the 50th anniversary of LT, but was returned to standard red in February 1984.

1985 - : Preservation

The RM8 Group bought the bus in 1985, after just 9 years of service, and have restored it as far as possible to its original condition, including red livery with cream lining, and the original style of bonnet emblem and radiator grille.

More photos on the RM8 page on the RMOOA web site

RM3 and RF13  Duxford, 9/98 RM3, rear,  Duxford, 9/98

RM8 manoevres past RF13 on the way out from Showbus, Duxford, September 1998.


 9/58:     Commercial Motor Show, Earls Court
10/58:     Chiswick for test programme
 3/76: SP  for service on 21, 51, 161, 228
 3/83: SP  repaint into LT 50 1933 colours
 2/84: SP  repaint to standard red livery
 1985: SP  sold to RM8 group for preservation
 9/97:     at Showbus 97: active preservation.
 9/98:     at Showbus 98
 9/97:     at Showbus 99
 4/00:     at East Grinstead Running Day

Photographic References

For a key to the references see the bibliography.

RM_1 p42   1958     at Commercial Motor Show.
BM3RM p76           non-standard front, brake vent trials.
RM_1 p61            revised front & grilles, (406 GH).
RM_2 p20   3/76	SP  on 21 to Sidcup Garage, V-badge.
CB8 p36    2/78 SP  on 229 to Farnborough, St Mary Cray.
RM_2 p79   3/83 SP  on 21 to Sidcup Garage, 1933 livery, bonnet emblem.

Ian's Bus Stop. RM Contents slave rigs RM8 RMs