We had the odd couple of them in Cornwall during Western Greyhound's reign. Well, I say odd couple, more like 70-odd of them.
A few off the top of my head:
500 - S100 PAF. The Jesus bus, just kept getting resurrected. It'd get withdrawn due to being the oldest Vario in the fleet, spend 3 months being raped of parts before they decided they were short of a bus and put it all back together with new(ish) parts and a fresh test. Drove well because of this. Survived at least 3 attempts on its life if I remember correctly.
522 - V22 WGL. Just an all round good little bus. Was the shorter 27-seater making it easily recognisable in a fleet that standardised on the 33-seat variant.
530 - S30 ARJ. Had weird gearing. The rest had gearboxes/diffs that were a good compromise between hill-climbing and fast A-roads, this had a wide ratio box and a high speed diff. Made it gutless and 5th virtually useless. Sometime towards the end of my time there 530 was withdrawn and the drivetrain transplanted into another Vario, making it just as shite.
540 - T400 CBC. The 2nd 540, this machine was originally sent from Anglian Bus after the fire as a loaner. It was an appalling piece of junk that they were more than happy to be shot of. After a fucktonne of work to get it on the road, it promptly shat its gearbox on the way from Tregony to Truro one morning. A replacement was fitted from the spares vehicle that came with it (the only other auto Vario in the fleet), which lasted all of 4 weeks before expiring again. It became a parts donor not long after that.
560 - WK02 BUS. A proper turd of a machine. Noisy, cold, notchy 3rd/4th gears, drivers seat was fucked, rattled, noisy... Just one of those 'oh for fucks sakes....' vehicles. Very rarely did I ever get off the depot in the morning with it without finding a fault that required attention. See also 561 - WK51 BUS.
577 - WK04 HSD. The polar opposite of 560. Just one of those machines that was 'right' and rarely went wrong.
599 - YN53 VBO. The silver bullet. Many of the later Varios were DP spec with a boot and DP seats as well as narrow doors and roof carpet. 599 was very plush for a Beaver, even having the fake walnut stickers on the dash and floor carpet. Went well and was very well looked after due to it being the private hire machine until the final 2 years when everything got run into the ground.
Overall though the Vario proved itself a hardy and capable workhorse - nowhere else have I seen buses worked as hard and for as long as WG did with their Varios. Route timings were always tight, the buses were out 18+hrs a day (most Varios got refuelled at least twice a day, with passengers on board) doing 60mph blats to Plymouth, slogs up and down hilly routes over Bodmin moor or Clay Country, mostly fully laden and driven by thrash merchants (which you had to be to keep to time) or stop start around Newquay or Truro. Maintenance could have been better (especially post the 2013 fire), and yet despite it all the Varios would keep soldiering on, even when they were bodily falling apart. More than one had some very 'interesting' rivers of seam sealer applied over the bulkheads to mask the bulkhead cracking that they were all suffering with to some degree, you could tell the worst ones by how much the windscreen moved about whilst on the move. The replacements in the form of Solos and Dart MPDs simply couldn't sustain the pace and regularly went pop in fairly terminal ways, whereas a Vario went wrong far less often and more often than not would at least get you home or somewhere safe before dying. Several times the clutch slave cylinder would fail and I just carried on to the end of the run without the clutch until a replacement bus was available. The breakdown wagon (an old Mercedes 815) got sent out once to a Vario with a blown turbo, I took the replacement bus and came back with the wrecker. Except the wrecker was fairly knackered so as we were on the bar I dropped the Vario into gear and pushed the wrecker up the hill off the Wadebridge viaduct to the racecourse roundabout.
They even went well through flood water:
The water was around 'VI' on the way back from St Ives to Newquay near Gwithian, I wasn't about to give up on the homeward trip!
I do have a lot more photos somewhere, I really need to find them. Now that WGL have been dead and buried for nearly 5 years I think they're fairly safe to publish....
I've got it in my head that this was possibly one of the 55x-numbered buses, I was wondering why there was such a draught up my left leg until I found the hole.
I'd like a Vario even now to potter about in, preferably a DP-spec machine with a manual box to convert to a camper.