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High Style Buses – Deck and a Half Kenworth KHO-33 and W-1 Models

Coverage of this unique postwar Kenworth W-1 “Deck and a Half” Bus began here back in 2014 after finding the lead photo courtesy of pauldorpat of this Washington Motor Coach System unit. The 2015 Update with more information is included below along with today’s new update.

2015 Update: “As many as 25 of these postwar W-1 Kenworth buses were constructed by the Pacific Car and Foundry Company. Power for them was provided by Hall-Scott Model 190 779 c.i. gasoline engines that produced 240 h.p. and consumed fuel at the the rate of about four mpg. The rear-mounted horizontal engine and the compartments for luggage are located below the floor of the elevated rear passenger compartment.”

“The design has been attributed by others to Roland E. Gegoux and Raymond Loewy who both were involved with later similar postwar bus designs including the famous Greyhound Lines Scenicruiser; information confirming this has not been found. At least one of these buses has survived but is is in rough condition.”

  • Enlargeable view of the Washington Motor Coach System Kenworth W-1.

1930s Washington Motor Coach System Kenworth W-1 Deck and a Half Bus

  • Two views of a pre-war Kenworth KHO-33 operated by a bus line in Montana.

New Update: Reader Jeff Howard wrote about the two photos (above) and more details about the one surviving W-1 bus:

“I am pretty sure this is a Kenworth KHO-33, a collaboration between Kenworth Motor Truck and Heiser Body Company. The Kenworth W-1 was a post war design which entered service in about 1948. About fifteen went to North Coast Transportation and five or so went to a firm in Montana. The North Coast buses ended up as Greyhounds and were retired in the mid 1950s. I saw them all parked in a fenced in yard before they were surplussed.”

“My father, Sherman Howard, designed the W-30 body, and a gentleman named H. L. Simi designed the chassis. The body design also served as the basis for several suburban, trackless trolley, and school bus layouts up till Kenworth exited the bus business in 1957. The front and rear end caps, side windows and seats were the only body differences between all those models.”

“There is only one known W-1 survivor, which was rescued from a field in Western Washington after laying unused for many years. It was cleaned up by the buyer and later sold to a bus line owner and collector in the Midwest. It is awaiting restoration.”

Share with us what you find of interest in this post and comment with new information about these amazing machines if possible.

  • New photos: KHO-33 buses attributed by Museum of History & Industry as being constructed by the Pacific Car and Foundry, The coachbuilding facility was located in Renton, Washington. The photos are dated June of 1938. The KHO-33 line is on the far-right below.

22 responses to “High Style Buses – Deck and a Half Kenworth KHO-33 and W-1 Models

  1. The man in the widow above the O in Chicago looks out of proportion to the other passengers (top photo). Might he have been added to the photo?

    • No Bill I don’t think so, I think it’s more to do with the way the light is hitting his face. Admittedly he’s a large man, but not an ad in or photo shopped picture.

    • What is the sign apparently affixed to the window frame at the back of the gentleman’s large head? It appears to be a likeness of an Indian (Native American) to me.

      • Jim, I’ve looked at a higher resolution copy of the photo, and while it does, at first glance, look like a sign, or an image on a sheet of paper, I now see that the dark portion of what appears to be a printed image is actually the patterned permanent upholstery on the end of the headrest behind the “large head” of that guy!

        And what appears to be the white borders of a piece of paper on which an image is printed, is actually part of an antimacassar, the removable white guard cloth protecting the upholstery from soiling. Look carefully at the headrests behind the other passengers on that level, and on the upper deck, and you’ll see what looked like some sort of printed image actually fits in with the other headrests on the bus.

  2. This “Low Ride” bus design has to be one of the coolest looking things to ever grace the road ! there must have been a flaw for them not to have been more popular, but like Mr. Sullivan says in the post above, “WOW !”

    • A flaw? Perhaps the long wheelbase with low ground clearance? Imagine going into a driveway with a slight grade change…”everyone pick up their feet.” SCRAPE!!!

  3. I may be wrong, but didn’t Pacific Car and Foundry become known as Paccar and Peterbilt and Kenworth are part of Paccar. Some one out there must know.

    • Yes, it became PACCAR in 1972, a couple decades after it acquired Kenworth (1945) and Peterbilt (1958). It also owns Leyland (acquired 1998) and DAF (1996) in England and the Netherlands.

  4. Interesting! I was not aware there were buses built with the “Scenicruiser” 2nd floor and viewing windows like Greyhounds had in the 1950s!! Looks a bit more cramped; hopefully you had a window seat when someone who skipped a shower that morning gets on!

  5. Interesting construction pictures.

    In the 5th photograph has a riveter, smoking a cigarette, working above a wooden beam held to the door frame with a large “C” clamp. Clever way to keep the frame steady to attach sheet-metal.

  6. Always great to read an update on something as rare and interesting as this bus, thanks of the info and photos. Bob

  7. This is a nice post David, I love these Art Deco influenced designs even though they are post war era buses. I especially like the W-1 style. It sad to read only one exist, but good to know someone out there will be restoring it.

  8. The bus in your lead photo still exists in a rail and transport museum in eastern Washington, as they say “awaiting restoration”. I have a number of photos of it in rough condition sitting on a flatcar out in the open, but think that it has been moved inside to dry storage. Not in this computer, of course! I’ll share them after we get back home.

  9. That’s very interesting and cool. I work for a Kenworth dealer and have been to the Renton and Chillicothe plants and didn’t know they were ever involved in buses. Thanks for the good read!

  10. Congratulations Jeff Howard. For those of us who love the unique industrial design of antique buses your article is the best yet regarding these deck and a half units. To the very best of my own knowing Raymond Loewy is always attributed with these because of The Scenicruiser. But based on your article if true it could be because the Peterbilts were used by North Coast. Deck and a halfers were also built in Great Britain both pre and post WWII and some look similar to the Peterbilts.

  11. I experienced a ride from LA, Calif to Oshkosh Wis, on a Grayhound Scenicruiser double – cdecker bus, in 1956: WAY better than a regular bus especially for “transcontinental service”. , in 1956 , the Return was by 1948 Mercury Coupe, my brother’s car to help him drive home. as it was summer we took a more Northern route to keep the temperature down a bit! The bus was Air Conditioned the Mercury wasn’t. One day, after sundown ,in Wyoming I was driving and I approached Laramie : There was one traffic Signal and I slowed to stop at the only red light for hundreds of miles! The main highway went through the [ON A Saturday night!) Bar, restaurant & “entertainment ” district: the light changed to red, I slowed to stop — the “swinging doors” of a saloon opened up —and four bouncers threw a drunk out — into the street in front of me ! I had been driving for 500 miles. I was awake, —just enough— to not run over the drunk by applying the brakes harder! As I was his Mechanic, I wasn’t concerned about stopping , I was only concerned about the consequences of explaining what happened to him. The signal changed , but we got out,— drug him to the side and verified that he was alive and that all of his damage happened in the bar! We had witnesses! I asked them to take care of him as I stopped clear of him . After they agreed, we went over to a Motel/Restaurant just out of town — and stopped overnight. I remembered the Grayhound Scenicruiser Ad phrase: “Relax, — and leave the driving to US”! Edwin W.

  12. That must have been a long trek to the furthest back seat given the apparently low overhead in the passenger compartment. “‘Scuse me, ‘scuse me, ‘scuse me,’ ‘scuse me, ‘scuse me….”

    The Montana based bus appears to have only four rows on the upper deck as opposed to a cramped five on Washington bus. The Montana bus also has some pylons and cables atop the front compartment perhaps for additional baggage? The occasional livestock?

  13. the wires on the top of the bus look to me like a radio antenna. HF probably, or shortwave, for communicating with the office

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