Thomas Vista

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Thomas Vista
Thomas Vista.jpg
1995-1998 Thomas Vista
Overview
Manufacturer Thomas Built Buses, Inc.
Production1989–1998
Assembly High Point, North Carolina
Body and chassis
Class Type C
Body style School bus
Layout Semi forward-control 4x2
Platform Chevrolet/GMC B-Series
International 3600
RelatedThomas Saf-T-Liner Conventional
Powertrain
Engine Detroit Diesel 8.2L V8
International DT360 I6
International 7.3L IDI V8
International DT466 I6
International T444E V8
Transmission Allison AT545 4-speed automatic
Allison MT643 4-speed automatic
Dimensions
Width96 in (2,400 mm)
Chronology
SuccessorThomas Saf-T-Liner Conventional
Thomas Saf-T-Liner FS-65
Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2

The Thomas Vista is a model line of buses that was manufactured by Thomas Built Buses from 1989 to 1998. Produced nearly exclusively as a school bus, the model line was also sold in commercial-use configurations. To improve forward sightlines for drivers, the chassis of design of the Vista combines elements of conventional buses and transit-style school buses (as well as those from smaller buses).

Bus Large road vehicle for transporting people

A bus is a road vehicle designed to carry many passengers. Buses can have a capacity as high as 300 passengers. The most common type of bus is the single-deck rigid bus, with larger loads carried by double-decker and articulated buses, and smaller loads carried by midibuses and minibuses while coaches are used for longer-distance services. Many types of buses, such as city transit buses and inter-city coaches, charge a fare. Other types, such as elementary or secondary school buses or shuttle buses within a post-secondary education campus do not charge a fare. In many jurisdictions, bus drivers require a special licence above and beyond a regular driver's licence.

Thomas Built Buses

Thomas Built Buses, Inc. is an American bus manufacturer. Headquartered in High Point, North Carolina, the company is a subsidiary of Daimler Trucks North America. While best known for its yellow school buses, Thomas also produces activity buses/MFSAB, commercial buses, and bus bodies for aftermarket conversion.

Contents

Following the 1998 acquisition of Thomas Built Buses by Freightliner, Thomas ended the production of the Vista in favor of the standard Saf-T-Liner Conventional. While the 2004 Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 was not intended as a direct replacement, elements of its body design would incorporate features previously utilized in the Thomas Vista.

Freightliner Trucks American truck brand

Freightliner Trucks is an American truck manufacturer and a division of Daimler Trucks North America. The division is known mainly for the heavy duty class 8 diesel trucks it offers, as well as class 5–7 trucks.

Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 Cowled-chassis bus manufactured by bus body manufacturer Thomas Built Buses

The Thomas Saf-T-Liner C2 is a cowled-chassis bus manufactured by bus body manufacturer Thomas Built Buses. Introduced in 2004, the C2 marked the first usage of the Freightliner C2 chassis. While produced largely for school bus use, the C2 is also produced for multiple applications, including specialty and commercial configurations. The C2 is unique in that it is available in capacities up to 81 passengers, the largest of any type C conventional school bus in current production.

Background

Ward/AmTran Patriot, first semi-forward control school bus Ward school bus Patriot.jpg
Ward/AmTran Patriot, first semi-forward control school bus

During the early 1980s, school bus manufacturing in the United States underwent a period of relative turmoil, as the exit of the baby boom generation from the public education system created a sharp decline in student populations. In the late 1970s, the US federal government had significantly upgraded crash protection standards for school buses. [1]

While safety had long played a key role in the marketing and development of school buses, designers were forced to take a proactive stance to increase innovation to production. By improving the sightlines of the driver, the chances of preventing accidents improved as well. [1]

In 1985, AmTran/Ward introduced the Ward Patriot, a semi forward-control body configuration. By reconfiguring the Chevrolet/GMC B-Series chassis so that the engine was positioned next to the drivers' seat, the front body was modified significantly, with a sloped windshield, with the sloped hood nearly out of view. While similar in layout to a small Type B bus, the design of the Patriot adopted the heavier-duty components of a full-size Type C bus body design.

Ward Body Works

Ward Body Works is a defunct American bus manufacturer. Headquartered in Conway, Arkansas, Ward specialized in yellow school buses, alongside buses for other uses. Founded in 1933 by D.H. "Dave" Ward, the company was family-owned for nearly its entire existence.

Model History

Through its production, Thomas Built Buses produced two different versions of the Thomas Vista. From 1989 to 1991, the Vista was built using a General Motors chassis and model-specific bodywork. From 1992 to 1998, the Vista was built on Navistar International chassis, using modified International bodywork.

1989–1991

For 1989, Thomas Built Buses introduced the Thomas Vista as its own semi forward-control bus. Adopting the same reconfigured Chevrolet/GMC chassis as the Ward Patriot, Thomas introduced several new design elements for the Vista. To improve engine access, Thomas designed the bodywork to allow for a larger hood opening than the Ward Patriot. To minimize the blind spots in loading and unloading passengers, the bodywork ahead of the door was given a "loading-zone" window, as on the Thomas Minotour.

Thomas Minotour

The ThomasMinotour is a bus body manufactured by Thomas Built Buses since 1980. The smallest vehicle sold by the company, the Minotour is a bus body designed for cutaway van chassis. Primarily sold for school bus usage, the Minotour is also produced as a MFSAB or in specialized configurations specified by the customer.

Sharing the General Motors chassis of the Ward Patriot, the first-generation Thomas Vista adopted much of its bodywork from the standard Thomas Saf-T-Liner Conventional. As with both the Conventional and Saf-T-Liner EF/ER, Thomas built the Vista its own dashboard and control panel, with the Vista receiving a GM-sourced steering column and instruments. The engine of the Vista sat next to the driver (a Detroit Diesel 8.2L V8), similar to the Saf-T-Liner EF. [1]

After 1991, General Motors entered into a supply agreement to supply the B-Series to body manufacturer Blue Bird Corporation, effectively ending the production of the GM-chassis Thomas Vista.

EngineYears ProducedNotes
Detroit Diesel 8.2L V81989–1991Available in turbocharged or non-turbo ("Fuel Pincher") configuration

1992–1998

1994 Thomas Vista George M. Carroll Bus 56.jpg
1994 Thomas Vista
Closeup of sideview of Thomas Vista hood and windshield Thomas Vista hood closeup.jpg
Closeup of sideview of Thomas Vista hood and windshield

For 1992, Thomas was able to continue production of the Vista, as it secured chassis supply from Navistar International to replace the General Motors chassis. In place of modifying an existing chassis, Navistar developed a purpose-built chassis (the International 3600) for the Vista. While heavily based on the International 3800, the 3600 was a design unique for the Vista. To showcase the model change, Thomas fitted the Vista with a Navistar hood (cut nearly in half to fit the shortened chassis). For the first time, the Vista was available with multiple engines, as Navistar offered both the DT inline-6 and IDI V8 diesels.

As before, the driver of the Navistar-chassis Vista was positioned next to the engine, similar to a Thomas EF bus. To eliminate several blind spots on the body, in 1994, the forward body was redesigned; the side window was enlarged and the windshield was changed to a wraparound 4-piece configuration.

During the mid-1990s, the Vista also served as the replacement for the Mighty Mite, as Thomas expanded the Vista from the full-size segment into the Type B segment. [2]

Following the acquisition of Thomas by Freightliner in 1998, the Thomas Vista was withdrawn in favor of the Thomas Saf-T-Liner Conventional and Thomas-Saf-T-Liner FS-65. As the Navistar 3600 chassis was designed specifically for the Thomas Vista body, its production ended as well.

EngineYears producedNotes
DT360 1992–1994
7.3L IDI (Indirect Injection) V8
DT466E 1995–1998
T444E V8

Related Research Articles

School bus Type of bus

A school bus is a type of bus owned, leased, contracted to, or operated by a school or school district. It is regularly used to transport students to and from school or school-related activities, but not including a charter bus or transit bus. Various configurations of school buses are used worldwide; the most iconic examples are the yellow school buses of the United States and Canada.

AmTran

American Transportation Corporation was an American manufacturer of school bus bodies. Founded in 1980, the company traces its roots back to Ward Body Works, established in 1933. Following the 1979 bankruptcy filing of Ward Body Works, AmTran was formed; in 1991, the company was acquired by Navistar International, a move that would begin a series of alignment between school bus body manufacturers and chassis suppliers. The AmTran corporate headquarters and manufacturing facilities were located in Conway, Arkansas.

The Chevrolet and GMC B series is a series of cowled chassis that were produced by General Motors, primarily fitted with school bus bodies throughout its production. Based on the medium-duty trucks produced by the Chevrolet and GMC divisions of General Motors, the B series was produced in three separate generations; GMC initially produced its own version separate from Chevrolet. Introduced in 1966, the B series was redesigned in 1984 and 1992 as a 1993 model.

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Blue Bird Vision

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International 3300

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Freightliner FS-65

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Freightliner Business Class M2

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References

  1. 1 2 3 "Thomas school bus history,Perley A. Thomas Car Works, Thomas Built Buses, Thomas Built Buses div. of Freightliner, Thomas Built Buses div. of Daimler Trucks, High Point, N.C. - CoachBuilt.com". www.coachbuilt.com. Retrieved 2016-03-18.
  2. "Vista (1997 Thomas website)". Archived from the original on 1997-04-01.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)