This article needs additional citations for verification . (November 2020) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
Greyhound ad showing a Scenicruiser
|Body and chassis|
|Floor type||Aisle with raised seat platforms on each side, step entrance|
|Length||40 feet (12.19 m)|
The GMC PD-4501 Scenicruiser, manufactured by General Motors (GM) for Greyhound Lines, Inc., was a three-axle monocoque two-level coach that Greyhound used from July 1954 into the mid-70s. 1001 were made between 1954 and 1956.
The Scenicruiser became an icon of the American way of life due to its presence throughout the US in cities and along highways and popularity with the traveling public. The name was a portmanteau of the words "scenic" and "cruiser".
The high-level design concept of Scenicruiser resembles some of the rolling stock of the passenger-carrying railroads of the United States and Canada, particularly their popular stainless steel dome cars. This type of two-level motorcoach body was common in the late forties in Western Europe, including Great Britain where it was known as Observation coach.
The concept of two-level monocoque body had been used earlier in the Spanish Pegaso Z-403 two-axle coach, designed in 1949 and entered production in 1951.
The Model PD-4501 as GMC called it was the most distinctive American parlor bus design of the modern era. It was the result of seven years of effort by Greyhound and GM Truck and Coach Division. The first GX1 prototype was based on a design by Raymond Loewy as U.S. Patent 2,563,917 . Originally conceived as a 35-foot (10.67 m) bus, Greyhound later used a tandem-axle 40-foot (12.19 m) prototype by Loewy called the GX-2 to lobby for the lifting of length restrictions of buses longer than 35 feet in most states at the time.
Power for the production models was originally provided by a pair of GM Diesel 4-71 four cylinder engines of 160 HP each connected by a fluid coupling. Two engines were necessary because GM had not yet built a V8 version of its Series 71 diesel engine. Each coach had a single three-speed transmission with a manual two-speed clutch for six forward speeds. There were some problems when the coaches were new because all of Greyhound's other models had four-speed manual transmissions that shifted differently than those in the Scenicruiser. This meant additional training for drivers, who mostly disliked the new system. This installation proved to be less than successful, and the 979 buses remaining in 1961-62 were rebuilt with 8V-71 engines and four-speed manual Spicer transmissions by the Marmon-Herrington Company.
The first design prototype for the Scenicruiser, the GX1, was a double decker with access from the lower deck and the driver seated on the upper deck. It was soon decided that a split-level design would be better because the GX1 was too tall for many Greyhound garages and lacked luggage space for 50 people. The GX-2 had a lower level containing the driver's area and entrance with ten seats plus a restroom on the passenger's side and an upper level with 33 more seats. This arrangement also allowed a large baggage compartment underneath the second level. This design was called the GX-2. Both the GX1 and GX-2 were actually built by Greyhound from 1947 to 1949 with help from GMC. In late 1951, GMC started work on its first prototype, called the EXP 331. It was completed in 1954 and had some unique features that were not used on the production versions. After the last PD 4501 prototype was built, it was rebuilt as a production model with serial number PD 4501-1001. The Scenicruiser was equipped with air-ride suspension and air conditioning. The coaches were unusual in having ten wheels. Each of the two rear axles had four wheels but only the forward axle was powered.
The Scenicruiser's popularity with the public inspired GM's later PD 4107 and PD 4903 Buffalo bus 35- and 40-foot models, which arrived nearly a decade later. They had a less obvious "second level" which ran most of the length of the coach, side windows from GMC's line of transit coaches and a smaller upper windshield in the front because the driver and first passenger seats were positioned higher. Unlike the Scenicruiser, these models were available for sale to all operators.
As introduced, the Scenicruiser had some significant problems, particularly the drivetrain and cracking of the frame structure around the side windows in the rear quarter of the coach. GMC was not about to put a non-GM engine into its flagship coach nor did it have a V8 version of its Series 71 diesel engine at the time. Therefore GM's solution was to use a pair of 4-71 engines. One Greyhound historian wrote of the Scenicruiser's early technical issues:
"Maintenance on the Scenicruiser was a constant headache – partly because of the complicated nature of some of the new systems (in the manner of Rube Goldberg, some of the critics suggested), partly because some of the components were too new and unimproved (using new, unproved, and unimproved technology), partly because the diagnostic tools and techniques were inadequate, partly because the training and availability of mechanics (and maintenance supervisors and managers) for the new model were less than optimum, partly because the technical support and repair-parts support were less than optimum, and largely because of a combination of several of those factors – along with a few other explanations – including, sadly, occasional incidents of careless or intentional abuse of the new coaches by disgusted drivers or mechanics."
GMC solved one major problem in the factory as the 1955 models were being produced. The original clutch was electrically operated. That meant the drivers could not make the clutch smoothly engage; it was either in or out. This caused lurches and jolts every time the driver started from a stop or changed gears. Both the passengers and drivers didn't like it. The electrical clutch linkage was replaced by a mechanical one which solved the problem. GMC gave Greyhound enough sets of parts to convert all of the previously made coaches. At the same time the windshield wipers were changed to a pantograph design which kept them in full contact with the glass at all times and this was also retrofitted to older coaches. The other problems were mostly solved starting in 1961 when all 979 Scenicruisers were rebuilt, costing Greyhound over $13 million.
The Scenicruiser caused GMC's top competitors, Flxible and Beck, to bring out similar offerings. Flxible introduced the semi deck and a half Vista-Liner 100, a 35-foot coach (208 produced between 1955 and 1959) and Beck produced three similar 35 foot coach models for a total of 29 coaches. Beck also built twelve 40 foot Scenicruiser lookalikes in 1955 powered by the 300 HP Cummins NHRBS diesel engine. They were Beck's model DH1040 and some were delivered new to Queen City Trailways (later Continental Southeastern Lines). Most of Beck's 40 foot coaches were sold to operators in Cuba and Mexico. Beck had to repossess several of them and they later returned to the United States and were resold as used buses. A number of Vista-Liner 100's and at least one of the later Becks have been converted to motorhomes and are still on the road.
Mack Truck and Bus also produced a single model MV-620-D prototype in 1957 that was also 40 feet long but it found no takers even though Greyhound leased it for several months. This coach still exists in private hands in Ohio. Other two-level models introduced after the Scenicruiser were the Western Flyer T-36-2L,and the impressive four-axle twin-steer Sultana Crucero Imperial.
The problems with the Scenicruisers greatly soured relations between Greyhound and GMC. Greyhound continued to buy GMC coaches with the PD 4104 up through 1960 and the PD 4106 from 1961 to 1964. Given the problems with the PD 4501, Greyhound had no interest in asking GMC to produce a second version of its signature coach based on the PD 4106's mechanicals and styling. Greyhound also bought some PD 4107 buses from GMC which were known as the "Buffalo" model. Greyhound purchased 362 of these buses in two orders (162 in 1966 and 200 more in 1967, with the 1966 units being trouble prone). The company never bought another GMC coach afterwards. In 1958 The Greyhound Corporation acquired a controlling interest in Motor Coach Industries (MCI), Limited, of Canada and by 1961 had full ownership of it. This led to the end of its need for GMC coaches by 1968. GMC's sales soon went into terminal decline as both Greyhound and Trailways were building their own coaches.
Beck left the bus and coach market in 1957, a year after being taken over by Mack. In 1960 Mack left the market except for a short time as an importer of rebadged Renault FR1 coaches between 1986 and 1989. Flxible built its last intercity coach in 1969 and their final transit coach in 1995. GMC exited the new coach market after producing the 1980 models and continued transit coach manufacturing until 1987.
GMC also introduced its model PD 4901 in 1954 so as to have a 40-foot model for non-Greyhound operators. It was mechanically identical to the Scenicruiser, but the driver and passengers were all at nearly the same high level as the Scenicruiser's upper deck. Like the PD 4104, the PD 4901 had a flat floor so the seats were a few inches lower than in the PD 4501 which allowed larger overhead baggage racks. The only one produced was clad in gold anodized aluminum and GMC called it the Golden Chariot. No American operators in the country wanted to take on the additional complexity and fuel consumption of this dual engine model. Greyhound's troubles with its Scenicruisers were already well known, keeping potential buyers away and none were ordered. GMC leased it to Greyhound and then to several other smaller carriers in the northeast and finally sold it as a used bus. This coach is currently owned by Wilson Bus Lines in Massachusetts who plan to restore it to its former glory.
In 1961 and 1962, Marmon-Herrington rebuilt the existing Scenicruiser fleet for Greyhound, 22 having already been totaled in accidents. The rebuild included installing the newly-available Detroit Diesel 8V-71 engine and a 4-speed unsynchronized Spicer manual transmission in place of the twin 4-71 engines and 3-speed transmission with 2-speed splitter. Side reinforcement plates above the rear wheels and below the upper deck windows under the skin were added. The interiors were also freshened up, but this was done by Greyhound. After the rebuilding the Super Scenicruiser name replaced the Scenicruiser name on the sides of each coach.
In spite of the reinforcements, structural problems continued and the Scenicruisers that made it into the 1970s again had some external panels removed and further reinforcements added.
About 200 Scenicruisers were still in service when Greyhound withdrew them around 1975. As of 2015, some of these remain, many converted to motorhomes. Other owners are committed bus enthusiasts who have restored their buses to like-new condition. A number of them were bought as used buses and ran in the colors of their new owners for some years after leaving Greyhound. A few even ended up wearing Trailways red and white as they were bought by Trailways affiliate carriers.
The influence of the Scenicruiser and its predecessor the Spanish Pegaso Z-403 may be seen in GM's 1964 Buick Sport Wagon and Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagons, both of which had stepped-up roofs and a raised skylight over the second row of seats.The coaches of the Aerotrain, which GM's Electro-Motive Division introduced in 1955, had bodies that resembled parts of the Scenicruiser.
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel A Confederacy of Dunces , by John Kennedy Toole, includes many obsessively sarcastic references by his main character to a trip in a Scenicruiser coach, which he recounts as a traumatic ordeal.
Country singer Hoyt Axton (1938-1999) used a remodeled 1955 Scenicruiser, purchased from Commander Cody, as his tour bus in the 1970s and '80's. "An Old Greyhound," a song he wrote about the bus, appears on his 1976 album Fearless.
Scenicruiser 472, a 1955 model, gained regional fame as the tour bus for the Mission Mountain Wood Band from the mid-1970s to 1987. It was said to have traveled over two million miles and as of 2014, was still roadworthy.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to PD-4501 Scenicruiser buses .|
The Flxible Co. was an American manufacturer of motorcycle sidecars, funeral cars, ambulances, intercity coaches and transit buses, based in the U.S. state of Ohio. It was founded in 1913 and closed in 1996. The company's production transitioned from highway coaches and other products to transit buses over the period 1953–1970, and during the years that followed, Flxible was one of the largest transit-bus manufacturers in North America.
The Chevrolet Colorado and its counterpart, the GMC Canyon, is a series of compact and later mid-size pickup trucks marketed by American automaker General Motors. They were introduced in 2004 to replace the Chevrolet S-10 and GMC S-15/Sonoma compact pickups. It is named for the U.S. state of Colorado. Along with rival Ford Ranger, the GM twins were the last compact pickup trucks on sale until 2012.
The GMC Motorhome was manufactured by the GMC Truck & Coach Division of General Motors for model years 1973–1978 in Pontiac, Michigan, USA — as the only complete motorhome built by a major auto/truck manufacturer. Manufactured in 23 and 26 ft lengths, the design was noted for its front-wheel drive and its low profile, fully integrated body.
The Yellow Coach Manufacturing Company was an early manufacturer of passenger buses in the United States. Between 1923 and 1943, Yellow Coach built transit buses, electric-powered trolley buses, and parlor coaches.
The Eagle was a make of motor coach with a long and interesting history. During a period of over four decades, some 8,000 Eagle coaches were built in four countries on two continents. The coaches were a common sight on American highways and were strongly associated with Continental Trailways for over three decades.
The GM New Look bus was a municipal transit bus introduced in 1958 by the Truck and Coach Division of General Motors to replace the company's previous coach, retroactively known as the GM "old-look" transit bus.
The NYC Transit Department of Buses, subsidiary Manhattan and Bronx Surface Transit Operating Authority, and the Metropolitan Suburban Transportation Authority, now under MTA Regional Bus Operations, have provided bus service in Greater New York since the 1950s, utilizing mostly buses from General Motors and Flxible through the 1980s, and later on the Rapid Transit Series design, and buses from Gillig and Orion. The fleet of buses which has been employed and is no longer on the active roster is listed below.
The Rapid Transit Series (RTS) city bus is a long-running series of transit buses that was originally manufactured by GMC Truck and Coach Division during 1977, in Pontiac, Michigan. First produced in 1977, the RTS was GMC's offering of an Advanced Design Bus design and is the descendant of GMC's prototype for the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transbus project. The RTS is notable for its then-futuristic styling featuring automobile-like curved body and window panels; the Advanced Design Buses were meant to be an interim solution between the high-floor transit buses that preceded them, such as the GMC New Look, and modern low-floor buses that would facilitate passenger boarding and accessibility. Most current buses are now made by specialized coach manufacturers with flat sides and windows.
The Allison V730 is a three-speed automatic transmission used in several makes of transit bus including the RTS, Canadian-produced GM New Looks, and Grumman Flxibles. Later production buses in the GM and Flxible line had the Allison V731 transmission, which is essentially the same unit but controlled electronically, with a keypad replacing the familiar shifter-lever in the driver's compartment.
The Chevrolet Titan and GMC Astro are heavy-duty cabover trucks that were manufactured by the GMC Truck and Coach Division of General Motors. The largest cabover trucks ever produced by GM, the Titan were introduced for 1969, replacing the 1960-1968 GMC "Crackerbox" COEs. The Astro and Titan would become the final trucks of the type assembled and marketed by General Motors, following the 1981 exit of Chevrolet from heavy truck sales and the 1986 creation of the Volvo GM joint venture.
The GM "old-look" transit bus was a transit bus that was introduced in 1940 by Yellow Coach beginning with the production of the model TG-3201 bus. Yellow Coach was an early bus builder that was partially owned by General Motors (GM) before being purchased outright in 1943 and folded into the GM Truck Division to form the GM Truck & Coach Division. The Yellow Coach badge gave way to the GM nameplate in 1944. Production of most "old-look" models was stopped upon the release of the GM New-Look bus in 1959, however some smaller "old-look" models continued to be built until 1969. Approximately 38,000 "old-look" buses were built during the 29-year production run. The "old-look" name is an unofficial retronym applied to this series of GM buses after the release of the GM New-Look series.
The Gillig Phantom is a series of buses that was produced by American manufacturer Gillig Corporation in Hayward, California. The successor to the long-running Gillig Transit Coach model line, the Phantom marked the transition of Gillig from a producer of yellow school buses to that of transit buses. The first transit bus assembled entirely by Gillig, the Phantom was produced exclusively as a high-floor bus.
GM Buffalo bus was the slang term for several models of intercity motorcoaches built by the GM Truck and Coach Division at Pontiac, Michigan, between 1966 and 1980. "Buffalo" coaches have a stepped roof in front, and the first three rows of seats are at different levels, mounted on stepped floors similar to some theatre seating.
The Flxible New Look bus was a very popular transit bus introduced in 1959 by The Flxible Company, and produced from 1960 until 1978, when the New Look was replaced by the "870" Advanced Design Bus. Over its 17-year production run 13,121 Flxible New Look buses were manufactured.
The GM PD-4103 was a single-decker coach built by GMC, in the United States, in 1951 and 1952. It was a 37- or 41-passenger Parlor-series highway coach and was an improved version of the earlier PD-4102 "transition" model. A total of 1501 were built, 900 in 1951 and 600 in 1952, plus one that was converted by GMC from a PD-4102. In early 1953, this model was replaced by the groundbreaking PD-4104 "Highway Traveler". The PD-4103 competed directly with, and surpassed in sales, a competing model from ACF-Brill Corporation, the IC41.
Ansett Pioneer was an Australian long distance coach operator. Founded in 1905 as the AA Withers Bus Company, the company maintained continuous operation under a variety of corporate monikers until its 1993 merger into Greyhound Pioneer Australia.
The GX-2 was a prototype bus built for Greyhound that would eventually be developed into the Scenicruiser.
The Flyer 700/800/900 series was a group of bus model series built by Western Flyer and its successors Flyer Industries and New Flyer, of Canada, between 1967 and 1987. They were three generations within a model grouping and, except for brief overlap during transition from one generation to the next, were not in production concurrently. All individual model designations included a prefix of either D, for diesel propulsion, or E, for electrically powered trolleybuses. The introductory model was the D700, originally released in 1967 for the Canadian transit market, and the last series group to be produced, D900, was discontinued in 1987. Flyer had become New Flyer only the year before, in 1986.
The fourth generation of the C/K series is a range of trucks that was manufactured by General Motors. Marketed by the Chevrolet and GMC brands from the 1988 to the 2000 model years, this generation is the final version of the C/K model line. The C/K nomenclature itself became exclusive to Chevrolet, with the GMC division applying the GMC Sierra nameplate across its entire full-size pickup truck line. Internally codenamed the GMT400 platform, the fourth generation C/K was not given a word moniker. After its production, the model line would informally become known by the public as the "OBS", in reference to its GMT800 successor.
Transbus was announced in December 1970 as an United States Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA) program to develop improvements to existing transit bus design; at the time, the US bus market was dominated by the GM New Look and Flxible New Look buses, and bus ridership was declining. The improvements had been suggested earlier by the National Academy of Sciences in 1968 to improve operating costs, reduce pollution, and stimulate ridership, and included innovations such as a low floor for easier entry and seats cantilevered from the wall to expand passenger space.