E2 was the most revolutionary of the three experimental buses delivered to Liverpool Corporation as part of its evaluation trials. It was one of the first production Leyland Atlanteans built. With Leyland being so keen to seize the opportunity to demonstrate the type’s capabilities, and with the chance of securing a large, order it allowed Liverpool to jump the queue on the delivery waiting list. However, the rear-engined Atlantean had first appeared on Merseyside twelve months earlier when Wallasey Corporation received some of the first Atlanteans built.
The Atlantean differed from everything that had preceded it, in that the engine, gearbox and transfer box were all mounted transversely at the rear of the bus, allowing the entrance to be at the extreme front of the vehicle, ahead of the front axle and alongside the driver. The Metro Cammell body seated an impressive 78 passengers.
E2 was delivered to Liverpool in December 1959 and like the other two experimental vehicles undertook an evaluation tour or most of the City’s garages starting off at Speke (December), Garston (January 1960), Dingle (February), Edge Lane (May), Carnegie (July), Walton (August). In April 1961, Liverpool Corporation announced that it had found the Atlantean its preferred vehicle and placed an order for 200 at a cost of £1,436,646 to be delivered over a three-year period.
Liverpool worked very closely with Leyland Motors to develop the Atlantean and iron out the many teething troubles that were associated with the type when introduced. In 1961 the interior of E2 received a major conversion to the lower saloon, the work being undertaken at the Corporation's Edge Lane works. This involved the fitting of a new floor some 7 inches above the original floor, a step was required to reach the new floor height, and the slope on the platform was increased slightly to reduce the height of the step. Back-to-back seating was fitted over the rear wheel arches in favour of the bench seats previously fitted. The increased floor height was to ease passenger flow around the front wheel arch and staircase area. Also redesigned at the same time was the staircase, the seating capacity following the conversion being revised to H43/35F. This layout was to become standard on Liverpool's Atlanteans from L500 onwards.
After all the further development work, E2 spent time working out of Garston and Prince Alfred Road with a brief spell at Gillmoss prior to the introduction of the Atlanteans at this garage. In May 1964, E2 was transferred from Garston to Prince Alfred Road where it remained until it was withdrawn in July 1978, outliving many of the L500-L699 batch which were delivered up to five years after E2 had entered service.
E2 was sold to a private owner in Huyton who converted the bus into a mobile home and regularly took it all over Southern Europe. After a number of years out of use, E2 served as a driver-training vehicle for one of the new independent operators set up after bus deregulation in 1986. It was kindly donated to the Mersey & Calder BPG in 1996 passing to the Merseyside Transport Trust on its formation in May 1999.
All the non-bus fittings have been stripped out of the bus, revealing extensive body corrosion. However, due to the vehicle's significant historic importance as the forerunner of the modern bus on Merseyside, the bus will be re-built.
A start has been made on collecting the many necessary parts that will be required to re-build the bus back to its 1961 condition. On completion it will make an interesting comparison with L501, one of Liverpool’s first production Atlanteans, already restored and in the MTT’s collection.
E2 is currently dry-stored awaiting the major rebuild until time and funds become available.