Bus Stop Classic: ACF-Brill IC 41 – Silver Screen Standout

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This bus may look familiar to you – it may have you probing your memory, like trying to remember the name of an old character actor who seems to be in every TV show or movie, but you just can’t place it.  Allow me to help – this is an ACF-Brill Intercity (IC) Model 41 (passenger) coach, built from 1946 to 1954.  The reason it may look familiar is, as reflected in the IMCDB database, it has appeared in at least 35 separate movie and television productions.  But before reviewing its filmography, let’s take a closer look at this last model from a company with a rich transportation history; providing products for both rails and roads.

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American Coach and Foundry (ACF), which produced motor coaches, and Brill which at one time was a major provider of trolleys and interurbans, merged to form ACF-Brill Motors in 1944.  Post war, they were one of the many bus manufacturers to prosper as transit operators quickly began replacing their war-weary fleets.  The company produced both urban transit (gas and electric trolley) and intercity models.

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Greyhound

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Trailways

The IC 41 was the company’s most popular post-war intercity coach, coming in second behind the GM Silversides (GM PD 3751/4151 and 4101/4103) in overall sales – and was purchased by both Greyhound and Trailways, along with other smaller operators.  It was 35 ft long/96 in wide, and as with all of the company’s coaches, the engine was mid-mounted, under floor.  It was also unique in having its front door behind the front axle, with a passenger seat to the right as you enter, directly across from the driver.

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1946 Model

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1950 Model

There were few changes during its eight year model run – early models had the headlights in pods, then in 1949, they were more cleanly integrated into the front fenders.  Later models also featured a full-width grill instead of the earlier smaller version.

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But what made this coach a stand-out – and what ultimately led to its downfall, was its engine – the great Hall-Scott Model 190 – an OHC hemi-head 779 cu in horizontal 6 cylinder gas fueled power house making 240 hp and a locomotive-like 600 lb.ft. at 1000 rpm.  ACF had purchased Hall-Scott in 1925 and used its engines in all of its models.  With this engine, these coaches could reach 80 mph – much faster than the 6-71 diesel-engined GM Silversides models.  In fact, stories abound of IC 41’s departing bus terminals after GM’s, and then passing them on the highway – to the delight of passengers.  Hall-Scott really deserves its own post as it was an innovative company that made some memorable power plants.

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While speed is certainly a virtue, economics rules in the transportation industry and with an average MPG of 2-3 gallons (compared to 6-8 for the diesel 6-71), the writing was on the wall.  IC 41 sales dwindled as GM conquered more and more of the market.  The nail in the coffin was the introduction of the “game-changing” GM PD 4104 coach – a quantum leap over older buses such as the IC 41.  Losing money, Consolidated-Vultee, then ACF-Brill’s parent company, discontinued bus production in 1954.

These Brill’s, however, live on in film as they appear to have been a mainstay in motion picture and television back-lot fleets – here are a few productions they were seen in…

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1954 – Carmen Jones with Dorothy Dandridge and Harry Belafonte

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1955 – Picnic with William Holden and Kim Novak

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1956 – Bus Stop with Marilyn Monroe

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1958 – Some Came Running with Frank Sinatra

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1964 – TV series The Fugitive with David Janssen

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1989 – Great Balls of Fire with Dennis Quaid

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Examples of ACF Brill C-series and Crown Touring Coach

I unfortunately have never had the opportunity to ride in an IC 41 – but while visiting the island of Kauai in the mid 80’s, did ride in an ACF Brill coach.  At that time the company that ran the Fern Grotto boat tour had several small early-1950’s refurbished C-27 Brill coaches that transported passengers back to the entrance after the tour.  I wish I had taken a picture of them.   Also while in Hawaii, there were several large Crown touring coaches used by tour companies – these all had Hall-Scott engines.  They were easily recognizable – a big, deep bass rumble from the under-floor gas engine – if you stood close enough it almost felt like the ground was shaking.