While there were many “deck and a half” buses prior to the introduction of the General Motors PD 4501 Scenicruiser in 1954, it remains somewhat of an icon of the design. But there was a bi-level coach just as modern and innovative, that beat GM to the market place by three years – it was a bus built by the Spanish manufacturer Pegaso – the Z-403 Monocasco.
Pegaso during this period was one of two brands belonging to the Spanish state-owned ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) conglomerate. Having bought the automotive assets of the Spanish arm of Hispano-Suiza, ENASA produced trucks, buses and military armored vehicles.
Monocasco means monocoque in English, and the Z-403 did indeed have a stressed skin, unitized body. Other innovative features included a independent torsion bar front suspension, and an underfloor mid-mounted engine.
That engine was a Pegaso “laydown” inline six cylinder diesel, putting out 125 hp. Another innovative feature, it was offset of the centerline, oriented more toward the driver’s side, giving more luggage space on the exit side of the coach.
The Z-403 was not as large as the PD 4501, which was 40 ft long – the Pegaso coming in just at 32 ft, with room for 35 passengers.
Approximately 50 were built during its six year run – many going to Iberia Airlines for use as a shuttle.
Like Alfa and Lancia, another manufacturer of motor coaches best known for its more sporting offerings…
Another new one for me. Where do you keep finding these hidden gems, Jim?
When I first looked at the image of the numerous buses lined up at a station, I did a double take as the fronts of these look rather quite a bit like the rear ends of the GMC PD-4106.
Excellent observation regarding the uncanny resemblance to the rear view of the GMC.
News to me. I always thought Pegaso made Ferrari-like sportscars and grand tourers. Guess you can learn something new every day on CC.
Pegaso was primarily a truck maker and survived into the 90s when they were bought up by Iveco. The cars were a side project to keep ex Alfa designer Wifredo Ricart happy and to train apprentices.
I had an idea Pegaso made trucks so buses isnt a big step, interesting that its unibody.
What an attractive looking bus, those wheel hubs really look sporty!
Great find Jim. Really like this attractive, well integrated design. Better detailing than many 50s bus designs. It would have looked great with a tandem rear axle. I also like its compact size as well.
Thanks for the information on their commercial line of coaches in the 1950’s. I know they made large trucks for years, but not so many highway coaches
Nice shapes and proportions, especially the Spanish knight’s helmet on the upper and lower windshields. They should have applied the same shape to the grille as well.
For once, I knew that Pegaso made trucks and buses, probably because I was horrified to find out ages ago that Hispano-Suiza ended up thrown under a bus! I mean, Hispano-Suiza, surely once of the most glamorous names ever. But, I suppose, now I know from Mr Brophy that Lancia and Alfa also did, the tragedy is lessened.
I certainly didn’t know Pegaso made sceni-cruisettes. Fascinating.
It’s a bit awkward, this bus, being either stunted or too tall for the length. The SceniCruisers have a great glamor about them to me, and that considerable extra length and rear double-axle seems to make a big difference. The Pegaso looks just a little too like it might be the congress which gave birth to the full Scenicruiser, and nothing really looks at it’s best during that process.
I stumbled on Curbside Classics and continued to read because of the extraordinary variety. While I still can’t get interested in FWD or stuff built east of Suez, I still read everything. What I didn’t expect was discovering how genuinely fascinating is the history of the bus.