As Paul outlines in his excellent GM PD-4501 Scenicruiser article, early attempts at making a forty-foot intercity coach didn’t always go smoothly. That put off operators and manufacturers from building and operating these longer coaches. But by the late ’60s, the Scenicruisers needed replacement and other operators were looking for larger coaches with more seats. As a result, we see GM offering a forty-foot version of its “Buffalo” the 4903, Eagle marketing its 05 coach, and MCI countering with their MC-7. But there was still a market for a smaller thirty-five foot bus, and MCI successfully filled that niche for over fifteen years with its MC-5.
The MC-5 was introduced in 1964 with the A model. It was 96 in wide and 35 ft long, seating 41. It came with GM’s 6 or 8V71 engines, and a Fuller or Spicer 4-speed manual transmission. Over 1500 were built from ’64 to ’70. Along with the GM PD 4106, Greyhound used them on its short-haul and low-density routes. They were also popular in Canada.
The B had only minimal changes – mostly clearance and marker lights, and was made until 1977. The new more powerful GM Series 6V92 engine launched in 1974 became an option also.
A more significant upgrade was made with the C model, sharing its front end with the concurrent 40 ft MC-8 and for the first time offering an Allison HT-740 automatic transmission.
Greyhound, having owned MCI since the late ‘50’s, was the primary customer for the 5. But by the end of the ‘70s they were discarding their shorter, lower-revenue routes and looking to standardize their fleet with the new MC-9 “Americruiser”, so the MC-5 ceased production in 1980.
I had an opportunity to ride in an MC-5C in the early ‘80s. The Air Force had one to ferry troops from Seoul, where they arrived in-country, to bases in southern Korea. It was a very nice coach, but what surprised me the most was its active airbag suspension. I had rode in other air suspended buses but those only modulated the suspension based on passenger load. This bus also modulated the suspension laterally. We were exiting the expressway onto a cloverleaf and the driver didn’t slow down much – I thought there was no way that bus was going to make the curve at that speed but then there were a few hisses from underneath, the left side stiffened up, and around the bend we went like it was on rails – no lean. Impressive…
Well built, many are still on the road as motor homes.