Greyhound ad showing a Scenicruiser
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The GM PD-4501 Scenicruiser, manufactured exclusively for The Greyhound Corporation, was a three-axle monocoque two-level coach used by Greyhound from 1954 to the 1970s. It was introduced in July 1954, and in total, 1001 were made between 1954 to 1956.
Because of the frequent presence of Scenicruisers throughout the USA in cities and along highways from 1954 until the 1970s and because of its popularity among the traveling public, the Scenicruiser became an icon of the American way of life during those years.
The high-level design concept of Scenicruiser may have been[weasel words] inspired by the passenger-carrying railroads of the United States and Canada and their popular dome cars; however, this type of two-level body in motorcoaches was common already in the late forties in Western Europe, including Great Britain where it was known as Observation coach. The concept of two-level monocoque body was already present in the Spanish Pegaso Z-403 two-axle coach, designed in 1949 and in production since 1951.
The PD-4501, the most distinctive American parlor bus design of the modern era, was the result of five years of GM Truck and Coach Division effort based on a design by Raymond Loewy as U.S. Patent 2,563,917. The design is listed under the U.S. Patent D175,464 with Roland E. Gegoux as its designer. Originally conceived as a 35-foot (11 m) bus, Greyhound used a tandem-axle, 40-foot (12 m) prototype called the GX-2 to successfully lobby for the lifting of restrictions against operation of 40-foot (12 m) buses.
Power was originally provided by two GM Diesel 4-71 engines driving through a fluid coupling because the 8V-71 engine was not ready for production. This installation proved to be less than successful, and the 979 buses remaining in 1961-62 were rebuilt with 8V-71 engines and 4-speed manual Spicer transmissions by the Marmon-Herrington Corporation.
Originally, the design prototype for the Scenicruiser was a double decker, with access from the first level; and the driver would look to the road from the second level. However, it was soon decided that it would be a split-level instead, with a lower level containing the driving console and 10 seats behind it, and the upper level containing 33 seats. This arrangement also allowed a baggage compartment underneath the second level, while providing 360-degree view for the upper level. A lavatory was located on the rear of the first level. The Scenicruiser was equipped with air-ride suspension and was air-conditioned.
The popularity of the Scenicruiser with the public and bus operators inspired GM's Buffalo bus models, which had a less obvious "second level" which ran most of the length of the coach, and smaller "vista windows" in the front (due to the driver and first passenger seats being positioned higher). Unlike the Scenicruiser, these models were available for sale to all operators, and Greyhound bought only 362 of them. The Scenicruiser also inspired the look-alike Flxible VistaLiner and a coach from the Beck Corporation, which was similar in appearance and delivered to Queen City Trailways, which received the only twelve of these buses ever built. Most of the Beck coaches eventually wound up in Cuba for a time and later returned to the United States, but none is believed to have survived. A number of the VistaLiners are still on the road, converted to motorhomes. GM "buffaloes" bought by Greyhound were model PD-4107, delivered to Greyhound in 1966-67. Greyhound bought a total of 362 of these buses in two orders, eventually replacing them with coaches from Motor Coach Industries, which Greyhound had bought in 1958.
Problems and effects on the North American bus industry 
As introduced, the Scenicruiser had some significant problems, particularly the drivetrain and cracking around the side windows in the rear quarter of the coach. Indeed, initially
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.
Super Scenicruiser 
In 1961 Marmon-Herrington rebuilt most Scenicruisers, a few having already been damaged in accidents. One major change was installing the newly-available Detroit Diesel 8V71 engine and a 4-speed transmission in place of the twin 4-71 engines and 3-speed transmission with 2-speed differential. Another change was adding side reinforcement plates above the rear wheels and below the windows. After the rebuilding a Super Scenicruiser badge replaced the Scenicruiser badge.
The cracking problems continued, however, and many Scenicruisers that made it in to the 1970s had trim panels between upper side windows removed and further reinforcements added. Greyhound and GMC did not arrive at these repairs amicably, and in 1958, Greyhound purchased the remaining stock of Motor Coach Industries. Greyhound ordered thousands of buses from MCI and thus significantly reduced orders from GMC, although Greyhound continued to buy GMC buses in small numbers for nearly another decade as Greyhound's demand exceeded MCI's manufacturing capacity. GMCs intercity bus sales slumped, and in 1980 they exited the intercity bus market.
- Length: 40 feet (12 m)
- Width: 96 inches
- Height: 131 inches
- Wheelbase: 261 inches
- Turn radius: 45 feet (14 m)
- 1954: 2x Detroit Diesel 4-71 engine
- 1961 rebuilt: 1x Detroit Diesel 8V-71 engine
- Transmission: Manual, 4-speed
- Fuel Tank: 180 gal.
- Seats: 10 on lower level, 33 on upper level. Total 43 seats
- Luggage: 344 cu ft (9.7 m3).
- Aisle width: 14 inches
- Front door width: 26 inches
Survival and sequels 
About 200 Scenicruisers survived when Greyhound replaced them with MCI buses. As of 2009, some of these remain, most privately owned, and many converted to motorhomes. Other owners are committed bus enthusiasts who have restored their buses to like-new condition, or put them to other interesting uses.
The appealing layout of the Scenicruiser pushed other North American coach makers to launch their own two-level models; among them the Flxible VistaLiner, the Western Flyer T-36-2L, the Beck DH-1000, and the impressive four-axle twin-steer Sultana Crucero Imperial.
It is believed that General Motors was inspired by the Scenicruiser when they designed the Buick Sport Wagon and the Oldsmobile Vista Cruiser station wagons for the 1964 model year, both of which had stepped-up roofs behind the second row of seats and a raised skylight over the second row of seats.
Literary references 
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.
- Whitson RC35C built on Maudslay, Leyland, AEC, and Foden chassis between 1949 and 1952 (accessed March 10, 2013)
- Pegaso Monocasco (monocoque) brochure 1951 accessed March 10, 2013
- "Bluehounds and Redhounds, the histories of Greyhound and Trailways". Retrieved 7 May 2011.
- HowStuffWorks.com article mentioning possibility of 1960s GM station wagons being inspired by Scenicruiser Retrieved 2011-06-18
- Eric Peters Autos page citing possible Scenicruiser heritage for the Vista Cruiser Retrieved 2011-06-18
See also 
- The Scenicruiser in Bluehounds and Redhounds, the histories of Greyhound and Trailways
- Scenicruiser home page
- Scenicruisers in movies (IMCDb.org)
- "New Bus Lets Riders See Sights, August 1949, Popular Science
- Scenicruise 2010 page of Tom's Garage, Illinois
- "Riding the Turnpike Express." Popular Science, September 1957, pp. 109-113/285