Grille Placement on Optare Solos (1 Viewer)


I'm a Scania
Hello peoples.

Not sure about you, but I've noticed that the placement of engine grilles on Optare Solos is quite haphazard - some have one large grille on the offside whereas others have one large and two small grilles on the nearside, yet I've never been able to work out why. Is it to do with whether they have Mercedes/Cummins/MAN engines, or whether they are Euro 3, Euro 4 or whatever?
(This all stemmed from me trying to work out when they stopped fitting the 'noisy' Allison transmission, which I think is the Allison 2000, and replaced it with the boring sort, which I think is the Allison AT545)

Here are a few buses I've seen:
This is what I'd call a 'proper' Solo - the oldest sort that definitely has the whiney gearbox. This is a Y reg example and has an offside grille.
Think this is a Slimline model, but as far as I can tell that doesn't affect the grille position, and this 04 plate one has an offside grille.
Now for an 05 plate (and a long one at that), but now the grille appears to have moved to the nearside.
Yet this 05 plate has an offside grille.
Assuming the private reg is to be believed, this is an 06 plate and clearly has the grille on the offside.
56 plate, offside grille.
Similar vehicle to above, but an 08 plate and with the grilles on the nearside.
The registration on this one makes me think it is closely related to the one above, but I think that is the grille on the offside (it's hard to see on this though).
Once again assuming the accuracy of a private plate's year, this is an 09 plate (or newer, since you can't give an older than 09 vehicle an 09 plate) - grille back on the nearside though.
Moving onto a 10 plate, there is an extra-large offside grille on this bus.
But then another 10 plate with a similar registration has grilles on the nearside.
More nearside grilles on a 61 plate.
Another private plate - presumably a genuine 61 plate though, and now the grille is on the offside again.
And finally a 12 plate, which is about as new as 'classic' Solos get. Private plate I know but the bus can't be newer than a 12 so it must be a genuine 12 plate. With the grille on the offside.

Some Versas and Solo SRs also have variations too, though I think the classic Solos have the most variation.
If anyone can shed any light on this seemingly randomised feature, plus anything on engines/gearboxes, please let me know (I'm trying to model some Solos!)




Well-Known Member
This is a complicated endeavour and I would strongly advise against getting into it.

But, based on my understanding:

Mercedes OM904 engines, Euro 2 and Euro3, would have a small grille positioned on the offside of the bus, for example your first pic of Y238 LRR.
Cummins ISBe 5.9 engines, Euro 3, would have a three-piece grille positioned on the nearside of the bus, for example YJ05 JXG, and had 30cm more rear overhang.
By Euro4, Optare decided to try and simplify the design and stuck with the grille being the nearside 3-piece format, adopting the extra 30cm overhang as standard for both Mercedes and Cummins options.
Pre-Euro4, you had models M850/880, M920/950, M990/1020, with the number referring to the approximate length in Centimetres.
Post-Euro4, you had M880, M950 and M990, plus the smaller lengths M710 and M880, where the rules are different again.

For MAN engined Solos, I honestly couldn't tell you and I'd have to leave that to someone else. Bare in mind things started getting messy again through Euro4 production models and into Euro5.

I did warn you about the complications of it...


An Orange Bus
Founding Member
The musical gearbox is the AT545, the 2000 series is the quiet one. The redesign of the valve assembly to convert from hydraulic to electronic control is presumably what put paid to the whistles. The 2000 also has a lockup clutch, so is more efficient when cruising.

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