Here’s a bus that caught my eye when doing a little research on the Mercedes O321H – this is a 1954 Krauss-Maffei KML (Krauss-Maffei Lightweight) 110 coach, and as you can see, it’s quite the looker…
Krauss-Maffei was a company formed in Munich in 1931 that manufactured both trucks and locomotives. During the war, they produced a variety of armored vehicles, the most famous being the Sd. Kfz. 7 half track prime mover – an eight ton bruiser that could carry 12 troops and pull a 88mm flak gun.
Early post-war Krauss-Maffei Coach
After the war, the Allied Occupation realized buses were a key element in re-establishing public transportation networks and commissioned Krauss-Maffei to produce both urban transit and intercity coaches. These coaches were pre-war designs that featured a separate body and frame.
In the early 1950’s, several manufacturers were exploring semi-monocoque, stressed-skin models which were much lighter and cheaper to operate than those with a heavier body-on-frame. Krauss-Maffei’s entry was the KML 110 – and in addition to its stressed skin body, it was unique in several other aspects…
Screen capture from the Elvis Presley movie “GI Blues”
The body was shaped with aerodynamics in mind and given rigorous wind tunnel testing. The resulting wind-cheating, enclosed body brings to mind a similar era Hudson or Nash.
The engine was also unique – a rear mounted 8.0 litre Deutz air cooled diesel V6, putting out 125 hp
The wind cheating avant-garde body may have been a little too much too soon, as the 110 was fairly quickly superseded by the KM 125, with more traditional bodywork, here in transit form.
Krauss-Maffei is still in business today, though no longer producing buses. The main company now manufactures injection molding machines, but an off-shoot, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, produces locomotives and defense equipment to include tanks and self-propelled artillery.