European Vacation Outtake: Steyr 380 – The Austrian Love Bus

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(first posted 9/16/2015)    Just about a year ago, I wrote a CC about my (and Austria’s) favorite childhood bus and truck . If I’d known then that we were headed for Austria this summer, I would have waited, in the hopes of finding one. On our trip, I was beginning to wonder…but then on our last day, I wanted to take a cogwheel steam train ride (more on that in another post), and there at the station sat this splendid restored Steyr 380 bus, being used to ferry tourists from their hotels to the train. 

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Which means we didn’t get to ride in it, but did get to listen and watch as its clattery big 5.3 L diesel four was started up and it drove off. The gear shifts come quickly on these, given the 85-90 hp these have. They were designed for a pre-autobahn Austria, as well as an Alpine one. So the gearing is low, as is the top speed.

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These fairly compact buses were used extensively by the Postal service, which operated the national bus system, at least once daily to every remote alpine village. Down on the flats, larger Saurer Diesel growled away on the highways, sometimes even pulling a trailer. But on the alpine roads, the Steyr was king, and the Postal Service had to keep some in service on certain routes because their boxy replacements wouldn’t fit in some of the smaller tunnels.

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if we can’t have a ride, we can at least take a look inside.

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Exactly as I remembered it. We used to take long summer vacations in a little village up in the mountains, and since we had no car, the post buses were our only option, other than walking. The latter was the preferred one, but sometimes after a long outing, we’d catch the bus down in the valley to get us back up to Ladis. And I always made sure to try to sit right right about here, so That I could watch the driver work the long stick shift, and watch him sound the very distinctive two-note horn, Ta Ta! Ta Ta! which let folks know the bus was coming around the blind hairpin curves.

Now that’s how I like to see a door be trimmed: in nicely-grained plywood.

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The roof center section is a giant cloth sun roof, which sadly was not open this day.

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Here’s how I remember it being on sunny days, before folks worried about skin cancer and such.

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Love that brass plate. And everything else, obviously. Thanks for indulging my Steyr love fest.


More on Austria’s favorite Home Grown Truck: Steyr 380/480