Bus Stop Classics: 1946 – 1964 Chausson AP Series Coaches – The French GM “Old Look”

While General Motors “Old Look” bus was pounding the streets of almost all US major cities during the post-war era, a similar coach was leading the market in France – it was the Chausson AP series urban transit bus.

The Société des Usines Chausson, primarily a manufacturer of auto and truck parts before the war, developed a ten-meter/32 foot bus to meet the demand for increased transportation in post-war France.  Like its counterpart SETRA in Germany, it experimented with a semi-monocoque design, to increase strength while reducing weight.

The result was the AP-1. Other than the semi-monocoque body, it was fairly typical of the era – the engine was mounted up front in a cradle and the suspension had leaf springs at both ends.  Panhard provided the engine; a 6.8 litre gas four cylinder with 80 hp.  It seated 40.

The Panhard gas engine was barely adequate, so the AP-2 was introduced in 1946 with a Hotchkiss 7.4 litre six-cylinder diesel pushing out 105 hp.  The longer Hotchkiss engine required more space and a larger radiator, resulting in a somewhat inelegant front end.  This model quickly acquired the nickname “nez de cochon” or “pig’s nose”…

By 1949, Chausson was the leading bus and coach builder in France, surpassing even Renault.  But the competition was getting stiffer, so the AP-2 was given a significant re-fresh in 1952, resulting in the AP-52.  The updated body incorporated front, middle, and rear doors which was becoming a popular design for city buses in Europe.

Photo by Jean-Henri Manara


Once again, similar to its GM counterpart, a trolley bus and a Suburban/touring model were developed off the urban transit platform.

Chausson’s bus division was integrated into the Saviem Group in 1959, and the AP-52 was renamed SC-3 and 4.  Production continued until 1964 when the front-engined design with a large “doghouse” was considered impractical, and was replaced by a new underfloor mid-engined model.

Over 13,000 AP series buses were produced over its eighteen year run – not quite the 38,000 of its contemporary GM Old Look, but quite successful nonetheless.