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Scenicruiser Bus at a Greyhound Terminal in the 1940s

Go Greyhound – Photos And Film Of The Bus Line Part II

The Greyhound Bus has been an iconic part of the American transportation scene for over 100-years. A week ago the first part of this series, Go Greyhound with prewar photos courtesy of the Greyhound Lines was featured here on The Old Motor. This second part covers developments from the mid-1940s and on up through the 1950s.

This final installment starts out with an image of a GX-2 Greyhound Scenicruiser (above) parked at the Greyhound Terminal in Charlotte, NC, circa 1949. Roland E. Gegoux later redesigned this prototype and patented the Scenicruiser Motor Coach for the production version first built by General Motors Corporation in 1954.

To backup a bit, the GX-2 was the Bus Lines second postwar double-decked concept vehicle; the first was the 1944 Coach design patented by Orville S. Caesar and Raymond Loewy and assigned to the Greyhound Corp. in 1951. The operational prototype (below) built in 1947 was tested out on the open road.

GX-1 double-decker greyhound bus 1947

According to National Bus Trader where you can view the excellent postwar history, Greyhound Buses Through the Years Part II by Larry Plachno, GX-1 was the first prototype, and it was constructed in 1947. Named The Highway Traveler, the full double-deck coach, was operated by the driver from the top level. Below is original film footage of the coach out on the road and being viewed by officials and workers.

The next development was the 1949 GX-2 Prototype Greyhound Scenicruiser Coach. It was the first 40-foot long bus to be built and special legislation, much like what needed with longer tractor-trailer units had to be passed before it could be used. Who designed and built this attractive vehicle is not known, but perhaps our readers will know more of its story?

GX-2 Greyhound Scenicruiser

The GX-2 was not the first bus to use this type of a post-war double-deck as it appears the Spanish Pegaso Z-403 Monocasco unit’s design originated in the same period. We are not certain, but the appearance of the GX-2 unit above at the Greyhound Terminal in Charlotte, NC, complete with a police escort may have been part of an introduction tour by the Bus Line around 1949.

The video above shows a short film taken by the Oregon State Police in 1949 of a GX-2. This demonstration may have been a part of the effort by Greyhound to show that the coach was maneuverable enough to use on the existing roads and facilities of the time.

The next and last development in the Scenicruiser line was the Roland E. Gegoux designed and patented Motor Coach for the PD-4501 production version built by General Motors Corporation. The forty-foot long coach was introduced in 1954; later versions included restrooms and air-conditioning. By the time the production run ended in the early-1960s, a little over 1000 of the famous Greyhound flagships had been built.

Below are ten more interesting period images showing both coaches and operations courtesy of Greyhound Lines.

1954 Greyhound PD-4501 Scenicruiser

  •           The 1954 Greyhound PD-4501 Scenicruiser (above) was introduced (below) by Miss America.

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  •                                          Washing coaches at the Greyhound Garage, in San Francisco.

greyhound buses old antigue vintage

  •                                                       The introduction of Greyhound Package Express.

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  •                                             At a terminal on one of the routes to Los Angeles in 1952.

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  •                            A Greyhound Bus at the Paul Bunyan monument in Bemidji, Minnesota.

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  •                                                      1947 publicity photo taken at a Florida Beach.

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  •                                            A bus inspection on a two-piston Weaver hydraulic lift.

Weaver hydraulic lift

  •                                    Greyhound Mechanic posing with a flathead Ford-powered bus.

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  •                                                          1941 publicity shot with a Greyhound cake.

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27 responses to “Go Greyhound – Photos And Film Of The Bus Line Part II

  1. Gotta post the prototype full-size clay models of the Scenicruiser bus inside GM Coach studio of GM Styling ( Harley Earl’s engineer/design team)

  2. Raymond Lowey was a well known automobile designer. Among his creation were some of the 1940’s and 1950’s Studebaker lines. He also designed the Avanti in the early 1960’s.

    Hudsonly,
    Alex Burr

  3. I pity that poor little Ford flathead V-8. Can hardly believe they would put an engine that small in such a heavy vehicle. A strong headwind or slight grade would slow it to a crawl.

    • Stewart, I am only guessing that it was maybe used in a city transit bus and not an over-the-road unit where the low power to weight ratio could be tolerated.

      Hopefully a reader will be able to tell us more about it.

    • My grandfather had the prototype bus.. It didn’t have a flathead Ford engine. It was powered by a huge inline six called a ” pancake six”. The engine was behind the front axle, laid over on it’s side. Incidentally, it was a gasoline engine, not diesel. If I’m not mistaken, it was built by Kenworth. Headwinds and hills didn’t bother it a bit!

  4. It was my understanding that the GX2 was built in the Greyhound shops. Where I do not know. I was told this about 25 years ago by a veteran Greyhound driver.

  5. “… not the first bus to use this type of a post-war double-deck as it appears …”

    I like to call this “step-deck” and a London bus “double deck”. Yes, both have two decks, but they are different so it is nice to have different names, and “double” suggests “two of the same”.

    I do not know the first appearance of step-decks, but the 1929 Kenworth had it, David Greenlees mentions an article which calls it “deck and a half”. I like to call “deck and a half” something like the Bussing “Senator” which has one mid-level deck in front and a double decker (like a London bus) in back.

    So to summarize:
    * Two decks at different levels — “step deck”
    * Two decks both full length — “double deck”
    * One level in front, two in back — “deck and a half”

    This is just my own preference, but at least is an excuse to talk about the many different designs. Happy Old Motoring!

  6. Kudos. The GX-1 movie is extraordinary and a real treat for those of us who love passenger transport industrial design. Deck and a half it is as the designation for the Scenicruiser that went into production. There were several other bus manufacturers who unabashedly copied the design including ACF Brill, Beck, and Flxible. Most were very limited production whereas GM built 1000 copies for Greyhound. To see a Silverliner pull along side the GX puts size in perspective. Although the GX-1 never made production visualize its design against today’s motor coaches like Van Hoole and Prevost to appreciate how forward was the GX design.

  7. There is a great new book that just came out about the Scenicruiser and the various prototypes that preceeded it. It answers all the questions posted above.

  8. I was at the Mack Truck Show in Macugne PA where their factory was.
    The Mack story is that Greyhound asked for designs for a new bus.
    Mack designed a bus with luggage underneath. They have photos of it on display.
    Greyhound did not choose any of the designs submitted.
    Instead, they formed their own subsidiary MCI to build their own buses of their own design.
    When the for first bus came out, it looked very much like the Mack designed bus. There were lawsuits filed.
    I do not know the rest of the story.

    • Lewis, you’ll see much on the Mack connection to the Scenicruiser, as well as photos, courtesy of Charles Wotring, in the book Scenicruising.

  9. my first trip as a driver july 1976 was to drive a scenic cruiser as a package run out of San Francisco CA. what a thrill it was. Jerrry Reidell

  10. As a retired 30 year greyhound driver in Canada, I was not around until 1952. It was nice viewing this older type coaches as I stated there was only the MC5 Scenic Cruiser. The MC6 was short lived as it boasted a V12 engine and was 102 inches wide, (away ahead of its time and they could not keep clutches in them) compared to the normal 96 inches, the standard for all highway commercial vehicles, including tractor trailers. The MC5 was a 39 passenger single axle dually, while the MC6, 7,8,9 were 43 and 47 seaters and had a tag axle to support the extra length and weight. We referred the raised roof on the scenic cruiser as the Hump back or Camel.
    Thanks for the videos, it was great to watch…….. Don

  11. Yeah, my first trip out of drivers’ school was in a Scenic Cruiser — LA to Las Vegas. And then working Division 5 in San Francisco and the Blue Tiger Lines in LA, I drove a lot of old buses. Come to think of it, I always drove trashed buses even on my last run. The Company offered me a new bus on my final run but I said “no, I’ll stick with the old buses with worn out steering boxes and lousy brakes.

  12. The scenic cruiser was the best riding coach ever made….no doubt about it and at Christmas time when seats were removed to fill with Christmas packages we were king of small package express….i remember one night in Dallas texas there was a bad winter storm from midnight to 10 a m that morning we unloaded and reloaded 52 sceniccrusiers all with Christmas packages going to all parts of the United states….mr h v Wilshire and Mr Lee Abbey could not believe the work that was done .

  13. Hello back there peeps.
    I always dreamed about riding one of those magnificent behemoths. Unfortunately when my chance came while going from Laredo to good ol’ San Anton, they had already retired and instead they were featuring single-deck MCIs. It felt like a world of a difference, plus the fact that the bus needed quite a bit of basic maintenance. To put it succinctly, turned out to be quite a disappointment. Lucky you guys that were able to ride/drive ’em. Great page, fellers 🙂 !

  14. The name of the bus station in Charlotte NC that is pictured was actually the Union Bus Terminal (completed in 1941), not the Greyhound Bus Terminal. Credit was given by The Charlotte Observer to L.A. Love, Sr of Queen City Trailways for helping to get the terminal built .

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