National Express: From buses to beetles – Coachbuilder Dave retires after 49 years of service

Dave Little, 64, of Bell Green, passes on his many years of experience to his son Chris Little, who is also a coachbuilder for the same bus company.

And while his son continues on buses, Dave’s retirement will see him working on other vehicles. Chris plans to use his father’s time and expertise to restore an old Volkswagen Beetle and two RVs he bought.

Dave Little started his career at the age of 15 as an apprentice with the company when it was Coventry Corporation Transport. Originally based at Sandy Lane Works in 1972, it later moved to Harnall Lane Garage and finally to Wheatley Street in 1986, where National Express Coventry’s current bus garage is located today.

When asked what stood out to him during his long career with National Express, Dave replied:

“Looking back on my time with the company, I will always remember the great craftsmen I worked with over the years.

“As coachbuilders, we all take great pride in our work repairing damage to buses while they were in service. It’s very important to us that they come away in as good a condition as possible.”

Graham Livesey, Engineering Manager for National Express Coventry, said:

“Dave has been the go-to man with his co-workers and supervisors when it comes to repairs – I have witnessed many times his wealth of knowledge and experience in our shop. His commitment and dedication to the presentation of our vehicles have always been second to none.”

In addition to working on his son’s vehicle restoration projects, Dave purchased woodworking supplies to take care of his own personal projects. He is looking forward to spending more time with his two grandchildren, ages 1 and 5. He also wants to practice golf now that he has more time to play – although he joked that he’s not sure he has the time after all!

Chris, Dave’s 40 year old son, has worked for National Express Coventry for 15 years. For the past five years he has worked as a bodybuilder – the first two years he completed an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Bus and Coach Engineering and Maintenance (Bodywork).

Last year Chris was a finalist in the Bodywork Technician category of the National IRTE Skills Competition in Bristol. The competition included a series of practical and theoretical tests, testing the skills and knowledge of bus and coach engineers from across the country.

When asked if Chris looked like his longtime father, he replied:

“I’d like to think I’m going to be with the business for a long time too. In this role, I really enjoy using my initiative to work on some of the bigger repair jobs. And, like my dad, I take a lot of pride to get the buses repaired and made to look good so they can get back on the road as soon as possible.”

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