On The Go Bus Outtake: MCI MC-7 Bus

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We were walking out the front door of Jerry’s Building Supplies when I saw it rolling down on Hw.99. I hadn’t seen an MC-7 in ages. “I wonder if I can catch it?”

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We walked to our car a bit faster than usual, but due to some old-fart slow-pokes in the parking lot, it took a while to get out. I had pretty much given up any hope. As I tore down 99, one has a long view down the road, but it was nowhere in sight. He must have gotten on the Beltline. I barely nipped through the yellow light and tore up the on-ramp, in a driving rain. But I couldn’t see him anywhere. It had been a couple of minutes, and if he was driving at normal highway speed, he’d be a couple of mile down the highway.

I drove more aggressively than usual, passing the typical cautious drivers in the rain on the left and right. I managed to hit 80-85 on one longer open stretch. Finally, I caught a glimpse of him in the distance. Press on! CC is a mission; must share this MC-7 with my readers!

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I didn’t want to put my wipers on fast, for fear that they would be in my shots. At one point, the big bus’ wake left me driving blind for a moment. Driving in the rain while catching a bus with camera in hand is a bit tricky. Don’t try this at home; I’m a professional – years of training and experience.

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The MC-7 was a very significant bus historically, the first mass-produced forty footer highway bus. It soon became a staple fixture on Greyhound lines everywhere. Of course, that’s not surprising, since Greyhound owned MCI back then. Frustrated at GMC’s virtual stranglehold on the coach market, as well enduring teething problems with the Scenicruiser, Greyhound bought Canadian bus maker MCI in 1959, and soon gave GM the cold shoulder. The MC-7 arrived in 1968, just as the bus market was ready to embrace longer buses. The MC-7 sold so well, MCI had to open additional plants. And before long, GM got out of the coach business altogether. The MC-7 and its top-selling MC-8 and MC-9 successors spelled  the end for the famous GMC Silversides.

MC-7s have become a fairly rare sight, as they were only built from 1968-1973. This one owned by Boy Scout Troop 175 is most likely an ex-Greyhound bus. GM still had a stranglehold on bus engines though, as no one made a suitable one compact and powerful enough to replace the two-stroke “Jimmy” Detroit Diesel; an 8V-71 in this case, with 318 hp. Transmission was a four-speed Spicer manual, although the Allison HT740 automatic was offered later. Sure wish my Boy Scout troop had owned one of these. I might stayed around longer.

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Stephanie obliged my insanity by opening her window in the rain so that I could get a shot of its handsome front end.

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I took a quick shot of it receding on the right as I rolled on by.

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So that’s how I was able to shoot the MC-7. Almost as bad as being passed on the right. Some might say even worse. But one thing I’m not: a left lane bandit.