The Dennis Falcon was a rear-engined bus chassis built by Dennis Specialist Vehicles between 1981 and 1993. It was mostly built as a single-deck bus, although some express coaches and a small number of double-deckers were also produced. The total number built was 139, plus one development chassis.
The Falcon was closely derived from the Dominator, all components to mid wheelbase were identical, the original horizontal-engined Falcon H had a layout recalling that of the Bristol RE with the longitudinally-mounted Gardner engine driving forward above the Dennis-built portal rear axle to a Voith gearbox and reversing unit which then took drive rearward into the driving-head of the axle. The later Falcon HC had a more orthodox continuous driveline, resembling that of the Seddon Pennine RU, the C (for continuous drive) denoted the Voith transmission close-coupled to the Gardner engine with a short propeller shaft taking drive into a straight Kirkstall spiral-bevel double-reduction rear axle. For these types the frame was raised aft of the rear axle to provide clearance for the under-slung engine.
The Falcon V, with Daimler-Benz V6 engines in the double decks and Perkins V8 engines in the coaches, was even closer in frame-concept to the Dominator.
Single deck buses
Leicester bought the first Falcon in 1981, with Duple Dominant Bus bodywork, and added six more between 1983-1984. Despite selling these to Thamesdown Transport in 1987, Leicester later purchased sixteen more Falcons between 1991-1993, including the last Falcon built.
Hartlepool Borough Transport bought twelve dual door examples. Six with Wadham Stringer bodies in 1983 and the other six with Northern Counties bodies in 1985. They remained operational into the days of Stagecoach Hartlepool buses.
National Bus Company subsidiary Alder Valley added one Dennis Falcon HC to its fleet in 1983, with Wadham Stringer bodywork of semi-coach specification.
In 1982, the National Bus Company bought 10 express coaches with Duple Goldliner IV bodywork to National Express Rapide specification. These were based on the Falcon V chassis. They were split between Western National (5), Yorkshire Traction (2), National Travel (West) (2) and West Yorkshire RCC (1). But they proved unreliable and did not last very long in National Express service.
Kowloon Motor Bus purchased 20 coaches based on the Falcon HC chassis in 1985-1986 for airport express services in Hong Kong. They had air conditioned bodywork by Duple Metsec. The last of them was withdrawn in 2001.
Double decker buses
Only six Falcon V double-deckers were built. The first was used as a demonstrator. Two examples with East Lancs bodywork went to Nottingham City Transport in 1982 as part of their evaluation of the various new generation double-deckers then available. High noise levels were one criticism made against them. The final three, with Northern Counties bodywork, went to Greater Manchester Transport in 1984.
The Falcon was replaced by the Dennis Lance. It also had a double-deck derivative the Dennis Arrow.