People wrote and said they enjoyed the "what might have been" blog a couple of weeks ago so here is something similar.
Pictured right (on a low loader arriving back at Wigan) is the prototype Plaxton President as shown at the 1997 Bus and Coach show but incorporating a longditudinal rear engine and consequent long rear overhang.
After critical reaction it was re-engineered with the now familiar transverse rear engine thus repeating the history of the Bristol VRT which also started life as a longditudinal engined-design. This delay gave Dennis their lead with the Trident as well.
Another little-known feature of this vehicle is that it was designed to the usual 2.5m maximum width but this was relaxed to 2.55m during the process. As a result the preformed interior roof sections showed all the gaps caused by the new exterior dimensions!
The President came to the market at the forefront of double-deck low floor requirement being driven by London. Production was centred at the Northern Counties facility at Wigan which was extended and improved to meet demand. Sadly, despite selling considerable numbers into the market, fuelled by the Livingstone-era expansion and investment, the collapse of TransBus in 2004 led to the closure of the Wigan plant and shortly after the ending of production of the President.
As a supporter of Northern Counties in the 1990s I saw several design concepts for the President and full-scale mock ups of certain features. It included several features from the mid-1990s "next generation bus for London" designs including the "open" centre staircase. Our first examples came in 1999 and they were classified "TN" - I chose this not only to avoid the drearily-repetitive "TP" of our competitors but also as a nod to the London Leyland (B15) Titans (which were "TN" throughout their development although all were simply "T" by the time they were delivered).