In July 1984, Midland Red (West) Limited restructured their coaching activities under the brand name Midwest, and the company introduced a new livery of overall white with maroon and gold stripes for the brand. The Midwest brand name was shown in large gold letters on the sides and front of the vehicles, with the company name, Midland Red West, shown in gold across the back above a large National Bus Company logo. Leyland Tiger coach number 1001 (registration number FEH1Y) became the first vehicle to carry the new livery, being repainted in January 1985.
From March 1985, Midland Red (West) Limited took delivery of six new Leyland Tiger coaches and two of these, numbers 1002 and 1003 (registration numbers B102–B103JAB), were delivered in Midwest livery. In addition to the Leyland Tiger coaches, two shortened Ford R1014 midibuses, numbers 370 and 372 (registration numbers PHA370/2M), were repainted into Midwest livery from March 1985.
The last two Midwest repaints came in December 1985. These vehicles were Leyland Tiger coach 1006 (registration number B106JAB), previously carrying Eurocrusing livery, and Leyland Leopard coach 1031 (registration number Q276UOC) which previously carried National Express livery. On 23rd December 1986, Midland Red (West) Limited and Midland Red Coaches Limited merged in a management buyout. At this time, Midland Red West discontinued the Midwest brand in favour of Midland Red Coaches, although the two brands operated alongside each other while Midwest was phased out over the next six months.
All the coaches carrying Midwest livery were repainted to National Express livery between April 1986 and May 1987, except Leyland Leopard coach 1031 which received National Holidays livery in April 1987. Shortened Ford R192 midibus 372 received red and cream bus livery in June 1987, but curiously, 370 was never repainted and continued for three years as the only vehicle to carry the livery. She passed to Birmingham and Midland Motor Omnibus Trust (“The Transport Museum”—BaMMOT), Wythall for preservation after Midland Red West withdrew her in February 1990, and she still carries Midwest livery to this day!
Since the formation of the company in September 1981, Midland Red (West) Limited steadily expanded their coaching operations, and from 1983 acquired a number of second hand Leyland Leopard coaches to operate National Express services. With further expansion in mind, in 1984 the company took delivery of six new Leyland Tiger coaches, of which two vehicles (F/Nos: 1005/6) were intended for use on National Express services and were delivered in National Express “Rapide” livery.
Further expansion to the companies National Express operations came on 23rd December 1986, when Midland Red West acquired the business of Midland Red Coaches Limited. Of the 38 vehicles transferred to Midland Red West at this time, 18 carried National Express livery, five of these being Leyland Tiger coaches (F/Nos: 1010–2/4/5). In 1987, a number of Leyland Tiger coaches were taken off other duties and repainted into National Express livery.
Vehicles fitted with toilets had additional “Rapide” branding to signify a hostess service. This livery came in two versions; early versions, as seen on 1004 and 1005 from new and vehicles acquired from Midland Red Coaches in 1986, featured the company fleetname on the side of the vehicle and black bodywork below the axel line. With later repaints, the fleetnames were dropped and the whole vehicle was painted white, with the red and blue National Express stripes extending in diagonal rows all the way to the bottom of the bodywork.
Leyland Tigers operated by Midland Red West that carried National Express livery are as follows...
* Vehicles marked with a star had additional “Rapide” branding.
Leyland Tiger coaches 1006 and 1007 (registration numbers B106JAB and B107JAB) were delivered new in silver and green Eurocruising livery to operate international services on behalf of a newly formed tour company based in Smethwick.
This livery was very short-lived and saw little use by Midland Red West, as within a month of entering service the Eurocruising company had gone out of business and Midland Red West was never paid for the tours that had been operated. Both of these vehicles went on loan to National Travel (East) Limited, Liversedge for five months. Within a few weeks of their return 1006 was repainted to white, maroon and gold Midwest livery, and 1007 was sent on loan to Harrogate, were she saw five months service with West Yorkshire Road Car Company as fleet number 2200, returning in April 1986.
Midland Red West used 1007 for less than a year before she too was repainted, receiving white National Express “Rapide” livery in March 1987. No other vehicles operated by Midland Red West have ever carried Eurocruising livery.
With the merger of Midland Red (West) Limited and Midland Red Coaches Limited on 23rd December 1986, eleven coaches passed to the new Midland Red West fleet carrying overall white livery with National Holidays branding. These were made up of three Leyland Leopard coaches; fleet numbers 1049–51 (registration numbers ROG549–551Y), seven Leyland Tiger coaches; fleet numbers 1008, 1013, 1017–9 and 1021–2 (registration numbers LOA832X, A678KDV, B566–B568BOK, C986–C987HOX) and one Leyland Royal Tiger coach; fleet number 1009 (registration number SOH555Y).
In April 1987, Midland Red West repainted three more vehicles into National Holidays livery. These were Leyland Tiger coach 1020 (registration number C985HOX) and Leyland Leopard coaches 1031 and 1052 (registration numbers Q276UOC and ROG552Y). These vehicles received a different variation of the National Holidays livery to that carried on vehicles acquired from Midland Red Coaches Limited. The National Holidays lettering along the sides of the vehicles did not split across two lines with stripes extending the length of the vehicle; instead, they featured blue and red horizontal stripes running in a diagonal band behind the front axel, similar to those seen on National Express liveried vehicles. These three vehicles replaced Leyland Tiger coaches 1008 and 1017–9 (registration numbers LOA832X, B566–B568HOX) which had their National Holidays livery removed in favour for National Express livery between January and April 1987.
Vehicles carrying National Holidays remained unchanged until March 1989, when the Midland Red West starting to phase the brand out. Four Leyland Leopard Coaches, fleet numbers 1049–1052, were fitted for one-man operation, repainted to yellow and red Midland Express livery and renumbered to fleet numbers 849–852, while Leyland Tiger coaches 1020–1022 received overall cream livery with Shearings Holidays branding. All other vehicles that carried National Holidays livery received overall red Midland Red West coach livery, with the last surviving example being Leyland Leopard coach 1031 which was repainted in June 1990.
With the merger of Midland Red (West) Limited and Midland Red Coaches Limited on 23rd December 1986, eight vehicles passed to the Midland Red West fleet carrying white, red and black Midland Red Coaches livery. Two of these vehicles were Leyland Tiger coaches, fleet numbers 1016 and 1020 (registration numbers A658VDA and C985HOX). Both of these vehicles were repainted in April 1987, with 1016 receiving National Express “Rapide” livery, and 1020 receiving National Holidays livery.
The Midland Red Coaches livery was phased out and the overall red Midland Red West coach livery became the standard coach livery used by the company. However, the name “Midland Red Coaches” survived, being adopted by Midland Red West as the brand name on all their coaches until 1998.
In 1989, Midland Red West Limited introduced a new coach livery of overall red with the Midland Red Coaches brand name shown in silver on the side of the vehicles. This new livery replace both the white, red and black livery used on vehicles acquired from Midland Red Coaches Limited, and the Midwest livery that had been used by Midland Red (West) Limited before the two companies merged in 1986.
In 1997 Midland Red West, by now part of FirstBus plc, modified the Midland Red Coaches branding to gold lettering that included the First logo. Soon afterwards, Midland Red West closed their coaching activities with all but three of the vehicles carrying this livery being sold, or in the case of 1003, stolen!
The three vehicles, fleet numbers 1005–1007, that survived in overall red livery had their branding replaced with standard First Midland Red bus branding. Of these three, a falling tree badly damaged 1005 in 2000, and she returned from the body shop in standard bus livery, while fire destroyed 1007 in February 2001. The last vehicle to carry this livery, 1006, was withdrawn by First Midland Red at the end of 2005.
In 1992 and 1993, Midland Red West Limited downgraded four of their Leyland Tiger coaches for bus work. This involved removing toilets and tables, where fitted, and fitting one-man operation equipment. Vehicles were repainted soon afterwards into the established Midland Red West bus livery of red and cream, with the company’s “wyvern” logo shown on the front and sides.
Leyland Tiger coaches downgraded at this time were numbers 1008, 1010–1012 (registration numbers LOA832X, EAH890Y, A895–A896KCL), and unlike the Leyland Leopard coaches, the Tiger coaches were not renumbered. In 1997, Midland Red West became part of FirstBus plc and modified the livery with the First logo, replacing the Wyvern logo, inline with the bus fleet. Leyland Tiger coach 867 (registration number HUA607Y), which was acuqired second-hand from Yorkshire Rider in June 1998, received this livery, although it operated at both Evesham depot and Worcester (Padmore Street) depot in Yorkshire Rider “Calderline” livery for a few weeks before being repainted.
In 1999 and 2000, two more Tiger coaches, numbers 1003 and 1005 (registration numbers B103JAB and B105JAB) also received this livery. 1003 had been recovered by police in 1999 after being stolen in 1997 and was repainted and fitted for one-man operated before re-entering service with First Midland Red, while 1005 had already been used for bus work in overall red Midland Red West coach livery and was repainted following accident damage. Both these vehicles remained fitted with toilets, although they were kept permanently locked.