Here’s a bus that’s probably familiar to our Canadian readers, but likely less so for those in the US and Europe – it’s an MCI Courier – the bus that put MCI “on the map”…
Yellow Coach Corp Model 743
The company that we now know as Motor Coach Industries (MCI) began as a small manufacturer of buses in the late 1930’s in the Canadian city of Winnipeg, in the province of Manitoba. In 1940, they built several buses for testing by Greyhound Canada who had been disappointed with the durability of their Yellow Coach 743 models that proved not quite up to the challenge of Canadian roads and winters.
National defense efforts during the war years put a hold on bus production, but in 1946 MCI provided Greyhound with a new model, the Courier. Impressed with the durability and reliability of these coaches, in 1948 Greyhound Canada purchased a 65% stake in MCI. As the company increased its production capacity, it became the primary provider of coaches to Greyhound Canada, a situation very similar to what would occur south of the border some 10 years later.
Two early versions of the Courier were built from 1946-49; the 100 was 30 feet long, carried 33 passengers, and was powered by a longitudinal rear-mounted International Red Diamond 450 cu in OHV inline six with a Spicer 4 speed manual transmission. The Courier 200 was a longer 35 foot (39 passenger) model with a larger and more powerful Continental 501 cu in gas inline six cylinder. The rounded front windshield and forward side windows are an interesting styling touch – and a easy way to identify these early Couriers.
Somewhat confusingly, MCI used two-digit numbers for its upgraded Courier, introduced in 1950 – the 50 and 85 series, which continued to come in 30 and 35 foot versions. A “Skyview” model with glass roof panels was available for tour operators and proved quite popular – and would remain an option for the entire Courier run.
Next came the 95 and 96 series in 1954 and 56 respectively – the most popular versions with over 1200 built. These carried more modern styling, somewhat similar to the GM PD 4104. In addition to the Continental gas engine, a 401 cu in Cummins JT6B turbocharged diesel was an option, and with an approximate 40% increase in fuel economy, became the primary powerplant.
In 1958, the US government won its antitrust case against GM, forcing the company to sell its proprietary 2 cycle diesels and Allison automatic transmissions. This later 30 foot Skyview likely had a Detroit Diesel 4-71 inline four cylinder.
The last Courier rolled down the line in 1960 – as the company was soon to introduce its new MCI MC 1 model. But due to their robust construction, they were a familiar sight on Canadian roads well into the mid-1970’s.
And as we’ve seen with other older motor coaches, a special “pat on the back” to those individuals and organizations that restore them to their former glory for future generations to experience and enjoy.