Until the end of 2023, ACT Bus will be revealing the Top 15 buses of all time in the Canberra / ACTION Bus fleet (determined by number in the fleet).

At number 11 is the AEC Regal III with 46 vehicles.

First in service: C55778, November 1948
Last in fleet: C60162
Last withdrawn: 1965
Years in service: 18

The first of the AEC Regal IIIs were delivered in November 1948 [1]. These buses would be the last model to be built with the half-cab design – which required both a driver and a conductor.

These were the first buses in the Canberra fleet to be built by Commonwealth Engineering (‘Comeng’). Comeng was previously named Smith & Waddington, but after being nationalised during World War Two, the government bought controlling shares in 1946 and renamed it as Commonwealth Engineering.

The AEC Regal IIIs were the last bus to use the general ‘C’ Commonwealth registration plates.

After service in Canberra, most of these buses had a second life with private operators. Two of these buses were later saved from destruction: one was purchased by ACTION in 1979 for the purpose of restoration – this bus is now known as “Matilda” (see links below for more details); and another ex-Canberra AEC Regal III forms part of the Sydney Bus Museum collection.


C60153 and unidentified bus at Kingston Depot / Wentworth Avenue
The restored AEC Regal III: “Matilda” (1991)
📷 Peter Kane
“Matilda” with Bus 620 in 2016
📷 ‘King of Buses’
“Matilda” with Bus 705

Further reading:

1 – According to reference sources, the “AEC Regal” (Mk 1) was built between 1929 and 1940 with the similarly named “AEC Regal I” available during 1946-47, and the “AEC Regal III” from 1948 onwards. For this reason, we regard the 18 AEC Regals (with Syd Wood bodies) delivered in 1946-48 as being “AEC Regal I” models and not “AEC Regal IIIs”.
Disagree? If you have any additional information or photos of buses from this era, we’d like to hear from you. Get in touch using the Contact Us link below.

This page was last updated on 20 January 2024