CC Outtake: GM “Boat Look” Transit Bus

If you’re a bus lover, you’re undoubtedly aware that GM Coach’s new transit bus from 1959 and used for decades thereafter was called the “New Look” bus, or also the “Fishbowl”, but here’s a version that’s best described as “Boat Look”. Too bad that’s not a fishing boat up there, because then this would be a “Fishing Boat Look” bus.

The key thing to note about this bus is that’s it’s not transporting this boat; the boat has become the upper level, and is quite fully integrated into the bus. Not only that, but the boat hull has been stretched in two places to make it match the 35′ length of this TDH-4523 model.

It’s exactly like the ones I used to drive for Iowa City Transit in 1975-1976, which thanks to the magic of the internet, I can show you here. This one is #6 out of the fleet of 12 of these buses, with which I plied the streets of Iowa City.

Actually, this bus doesn’t have air conditioning,  which the IC buses thankfully had. So this one may well be a veteran of Eugene’s transit system, which had a substantial fleet of these (and nothing else) when we moved here in 1993. They were all without AC, due to our historically cool summers here, which has unfortunately become less the case thanks to global warming, and window air conditioners are sprouting everywhere, including our house.

Of course, there were plenty of other fleets in the northern locales that also bought these without AC, so it’s pure speculation.

But it would of course be fitting to have one of Eugene’s buses end up like this. I was rather drawn to the idea of buying one of these from Eugene’s fleet as it was mustered out, but probably it was a wiser decision to just say no. It’s not like I had room to keep it at the house, and if you go to storage lots, one can see a whole lot of old buses that were once somebody’s dream motorhome project that never got finished, or just hardly ever used.  Still, the allure of driving my family in one across the West and into Mexico was great, and it still sort of is, although it would be problematic taking it down all those rough forest roads that we drive our Chinook on to boondock camp in the woods.

This being Eugene and all, our featured bus is hardly the only bus in town to sport a sailboat on top. I shot this at the now-defunct Eugene Celebration parade a few years back. It’s a bit more colorful.

I like the look, although it doesn’t seem like the most practical choice of adding an upper deck to a bus. But then what’s practicality got to do with this? And the prow is rather aerodynamic.


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CC GM TDH-4523 “New Look” Transit Coach: GM’s Greatest Hit #11   PN

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