1950s Leyland Royal Tiger - Autobuses Metropolitanos SA (Havana, Cuba)

June 10, 2003

The following photo(s) are © copyrighted by Alfred Mussert (USA)

Hi Bernie,

This may be of interest to the gentleman who sent in

the photo of the 1964 Leyland Olympic. In the early 1950s there were 2 main competing city bus companies in Havana, Cuba. One was the "COA" (Cooperativa de Omnibus Aliados), which used exclusively GM products; and the other one was the "Autobuses Metropolitanos SA", which used exclusively Leyland products in the 1950s.

These last ones were painted white with only a dark navy blue stripe running the lenght of the body, just below the windows. They had a 3 speed manual transmission. (as opposed to the later Leyland Olympic, which had an electro/vacuum assisted semi automatic transmission)

I am sending 2 photos of the type of bus, which I've just found. The generic name of the model was "Royal Tiger" and was one of the first European made buses with the engine placed horizontally under the floor.

The buses that were sold to Cuba had a different door configuration than what the photos show, and this has to do mainly with the fact that in England and Ireland people drive on the left side of the road.

I think this photos will bring many memories to all those who visited Havana in the 1950s. By the way, I would like to find out more about these specific model and its variants.



Photo of a vintage Leyland ad for these buses from the Feb 1952 issue of Bus Transportation magazine.
Submitted by Malcolm Thwaite
Leyland Royal Tiger


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Your Comments

Malcolm Thwaite | Feb 08, 2006 | 8:24 am

The Leyland Royal Tigers (white with dark blue stripe ending with a 'V' at the front) that were built for Cuba in the early to mid 1950s were sold to Autobuses Modernos SA. Approximately 620 were delivered with bodies by Saunders-Roe(Anglesey)Ltd of Beaumaris, Anglesey, North Wales. I was an apprentice at SR in 1954.

ted owen | Aug 29, 2006 | 7:07 am

worked sr.1950s on cuba buses. my father was test driver on buses i have photos of tigers parked at raf mona awaitig shipment.i also have photos of the experimental double decker built at sr. i did my apprenticeship on the cuba buses building the roof section.have more infos ,like layland knockdowns driven by my father from midlands to beaumaris.these were just the chasies no cabs for drivers protection. ted.

Tito Davila | Sep 19, 2006 | 2:00 pm

Hi All:

Buenos Aires, Argentina was also the home of Leyland buses. They were bodied mostly by MCW, but I recall a batch of Royal Tigers with S-R bodies too. These arrived with Olympic and a batch of Royal Tiger the latter two bodied by MCW. These buses were imported in 1951.

Later as tram replacements in 1962, Buenos Aires again purchased Olympics and Royal Tigers, the latter bodied by MCW,Marshall and locally by Serra and Chicago.

I still remember that the Olympics proudly wore their flying "wings" emblem with the words "El Omnibus Ingles" on them.

Regards from New York,

Peter Gonzalez | Oct 07, 2006 | 10:14 pm

Hi all... I have fond memories of riding the Leyland buses in Havana as a child. Because they were painted white, people referred to them as "enfermeras" (nurses).

sergio martire | Nov 01, 2006 | 3:39 pm

in 1948 saunders roe made several bodies a chassis made by aec-aclo, and shipped to s.paulo brasil did yo have more informations about this.

Ben | Jun 24, 2010 | 9:01 pm


I am looking for a model of a 1966 leyland tiger, My step dad has one. It has a door at front and one at back behind rear wheel left side. Do you know where I can get a model of this bus.


March 8, 2009 12:52:54 AM EST

miguel angel | Jun 24, 2010 | 9:01 pm

estimados amigos de la pagina ,,animense y cuelguen fotos en la red de buses leyland en cuba,,por muy chica que sea la foto, no importa para los coleccionistas esta bien ,,,,felicitaciones por la pagina ---------saludos ------suerte--------

January 13, 2010 12:24:09 PM EST

Victor T Barris | Jun 24, 2010 | 9:02 pm

I also remmember riding the blue and red stripes Leyland and Pegaso buses in Havana back in the 1960's.
And now I drive tours buses VanHool T 2145 and Volvo 9700 series.

May 27, 2010 2:10:28 PM EDT

Victor T Barris | Jun 24, 2010 | 9:03 pm

Hello Ernesto Martinez
I was born in the city of Camaguey and back in the 1960'S I rode buses in Havana like the old blue GMC.
I really liked the Leyland and Pegaso a lot
Now I live in North Carolina and today I enjoy driving the T 2145 VanHools and 9700 series Volvo.
They're really nice buses to make real hard turns.
Was the Leylands 600 hard to make turns?

May 27, 2010 2:22:05 PM EDT

claudio moore | Feb 14, 2011 | 6:31 pm

I remember in the early 60 riding the Leylands in Buenos Aires, they were silvered and I still remember the huge gas pedal I guess it was with a shoe metal platform on the driver side..

l rodriguez | May 18, 2011 | 12:44 pm

I believe the name of the company that ran the white Leylands in Cuba was Autobuses Modernos, they were used buses from after WWII. In contrast, there were various different GM brand new models that arrived in Havana between 1950 and 1958. The price of a brand new GM TDH3612 was US$25000, and the last GM TDH4512 that arrived in 1957-1958 was $26300.

Malcolm Thwaite | May 18, 2011 | 2:22 pm

The 620 Autobuses Modernos Leyland Royal Tigers were new and were built with Saunders Roe bodies in the early 1950s. See the Leyland ad above

anthony cerbo | Oct 18, 2011 | 7:54 am

I am looking for colored fotos of the omnibus aliados habsns cuba routes 20 ceiba and 32 la plays. Thank You, Anthony Cerbo.

Diane P | Nov 12, 2011 | 6:36 am

I was surprised and happy to find this link when looking up my family's company - Omnibus Alidos. My grandfather was the founder and owner of this company until Castro took over. One of my aunts continued the company here in Miami and now, one of my sisters is the owner of the company. When I have time, I'll post whatever pictures we have. | Nov 12, 2011 | 6:42 am

A note from the site admin:

We are always happy to add bus photos to this site. If you would like to submit photos please email them to and we'll add them within a few days.

Eylon Ohev-Ami | Jan 04, 2012 | 1:36 pm

Tiger buses were used by the main bus companies in Israel during the 60's and the early 70's. There are many pictures of these buses in web sites dedicted to EGGED & HAMEKASHER bus companies.

Victor T Barris | Feb 21, 2012 | 3:26 pm

I'm still in North Carolina.
Our company got two brand new VanHool C2045 models.
They're really nices buses.
Back to Cuba 1960's
The old Leyland Tigers and Pegaso I do remmeber,there were noisy and big polluters.
VanHool today are very clean.

Victor T Barris | Feb 21, 2012 | 3:37 pm

VanHool built some of the best buses to our road.
Now back in Europe they have a new model called TX.
I hope to see that one for U.S.A market in our road soon.
Leyland is not all gone yet.
Askot-Leyand are now buildind new buses in India. Some of then looks almost like the olds ones.

Victor T Barris | Feb 21, 2012 | 3:52 pm

Go to your computer and check
Look for Ashok-Leyland of India.
I believe the Spanish Pegaso buses with Leyland engines are now gone.

Len | Dec 16, 2012 | 11:40 pm

Omnibus Aliados was not a private company in Cuba, was a syndicate of different routes that was controlled by the one with more buses in every route. There was almost 60 routes in Havana alone and the service was fantastic. About the Leylands they were known as "nurses" do to the white colors. And there was a funny expression.- " If not dented is not a AM (AM=Autobuses Modernos) " because they trained the trolleys driver to drive the new company omnibus.

Len | Dec 16, 2012 | 11:53 pm

You can see the old omnibus of the COA (Cooperativ de Omnibus Aliados) and their competitor, trolleys from Havana Electric, as well like the ones that took the place of trolleys in 1955 Leyland' s Tiger and the new GM of COA in the following video link.-

diane pallini | Dec 17, 2012 | 7:40 am

you are correct, Len. my grandfather was the founder of Omnibus Aliados ruta 28. my aunt founded Omnibus Aliados here in Miami and the company is now owned by one of my sisters.

Malcolm Thwaite | Dec 17, 2012 | 10:27 am

To Ted Owen re 29 Aug 2006 post, I would be grateful if you could contact me about the photos you have of the experimental SR double decker

Robert Melo | Jun 09, 2013 | 11:30 am

Debo aclarar,como mecanico y despues chofer de la COA,que las Rita's de omnibus tenian duenos, los choferes y coductores muchos heran accionistas de Los omnibus pues tenian omnibus propiedad de Ellos,trabajando en dicha ,ruta,UNOs tenian mas de UNO,tambien quiero aclarar ,que la chapa del empleado que se usaba en la gorra,las que tenian numeros pares significaba que heran choferes,Los que tenian numeros nones conductores,yo fui mecanico,conductor ruta 9 por corto tiempo,chofer ruta 15 y ruta 2 hasta mi renuncia 1966, saliendo del infierno en 1967

Rogerio Morales | Nov 14, 2013 | 10:34 am

Este es para Roberto Melo. Fuistes tu novio de una muchacha llamada Miriam en Parraga ? Es tu Segundo apellido Diaz ? Tuvistes una vez un zccidente en una moto, donde te rompidtes una pierna ? Recuerdas a un chofer en el paradero de la Ruta 2 llamado Morales ? de ser asi por favor communicate conmigo a Gracias

ROBERT MELO | Dec 29, 2013 | 7:02 pm


ROBERT MELO | Dec 29, 2013 | 7:25 pm


ROBERT MELO | Jan 01, 2014 | 7:24 pm

morales llamame

ROBERT MELO | Jan 30, 2014 | 11:28 pm

morales si claro que se quien eres,viviamos next door,,tu eras amigo de saavedra,y tu esposa se llamaba Zenaida tu tenias un varon y dos hembras llamame 305 479 4600

g bauer | Oct 13, 2014 | 8:54 am

In the netherlands whe used the underfloors to they where fun to drive


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