Bus Stop Classics: 1955-63 Henschel HS 160 Urban Transit Coach – A Familiar Sight on West German Streets

The Henschel HS 160 was one of the more popular urban transit coaches during the post-war period in old West Germany.  It shared many innovations with its North American counterpart at the time, the GM Old Look bus.  Both used a stressed steel semi-monocoque body with aluminum panels to save weight, and incorporated a variable air suspension system versus stiff-riding steel springs.  It differed, however, in the broad number of variations offered (diesel, trolley, articulated, and touring).

Photo By: Bundesarchiv-Bild-146-1972-064-61-CC-BY-SA-3.0-CC-BY-SA-3.0-de

Henschel and Sons was one of Germany’s oldest transportation conglomerates. It began manufacturing railcars in the 1840’s, and by the beginning of the twentieth century was the largest provider of steam locomotives in Germany.  In 1925 it began constructing trucks and buses.  During the war, in addition to various rail assets, heavy-duty trucks and half-tracks, it was one of two companies building the feared Tiger tank.  It also branched out into aviation, with perhaps its HS 129 ground attack aircraft being its most noted model.

After the war, it refocused on trucks, buses, and railway applications.  The 160 was a follow-on to its first post-war model, the HS 100 bus.  The 160 came in standard European sizes; either 11 or 12 meters (36 or 39 ft) in length and 2.5 meters wide, with front, middle, and rear doors.  The diesel model used a 9.3 liter (567 cu in) Henschel 6U 1115 inline six cylinder mounted underfloor (on its side) putting out 158 hp, with a ZF six-speed manual transmission.

The popular trolley bus came in the same sizes, with a Siemens 120 KW electric motor using 550-750 volts DC.

A larger articulated model was introduced in 1958, with an overall length of 16.5 meters (51 ft). Carrying capacity was 50 seated, 120 seated and standing.  Several of the trolley bus artic versions in the Trier area were re-engined with diesels when trolley service was discontinued in 1970, and continued to provide many more years of service.

As was typical in Europe, an intercity touring model was developed off the main urban transit platform.

This nicely restored model currently resides at a museum in Dortmund.

While discontinued in 1963,  HS 160’s were a familiar sight on German straße throughout the 1970’s with one remaining in service until 1992!