No, this is not a concept vehicle for a new Moon Rover…even though the large Japanese characters on the side say “Apollo”. This is Mazda’s first entry into the Japanese domestic small-sized bus market circa mid-1960’s – referred to as the Type-A Light Bus.
While I’m sure most CC readers know, for the few that may not, GM’s New Look coach produced from 1959 to 1977 was given the nickname “Fishbowl” due to its large windshield. Perhaps Mazda drew on it for inspiration…
Or maybe they were just being creative. While Mazda is most closely associated with the rotary engine, there was a period in the 1960’s when it was considered Japan’s style leader. Think the sporty Gen 1 Cosmo or the lithe 60’s Luce Coupe (styled by Giugiaro).
In any event, here is a mid-60’s equivalent Toyota small bus for comparison – quite a difference…
Other than the styling, the Type-A was typical of the era – a 2.0 litre gas four cylinder mounted up front provided 81 hp. Capacity was 25 passengers.
The huge rounded glass windshield must have given drivers superb visibility, though it might have been a bit hot on a sunny day…
The styling may have been a bit too much for Japan’s traditional fleet managers, and though it was offered from 1965 – 71, few were sold – and it was replaced with the more conventionally styled Parkway in 1972.
Do Japanese bus routes exclusively use raised boarding areas or is there some sort of drop step I’m not seeing?
When this bus was made Dan, there weren’t any raised platforms – you just grabbed the handles and hoisted your way up. Today, like in the US, almost all transit buses here are low floor models so it’s pretty much on the same level as the curb.
Bolivia imported many of old Japanese buses and converted them to the mandatory left-hand-drive after they were discarded due to age or due to difficulties or inabilities to be retrofitted with wheelchair lifts. Despite the conversion to the LHD, the side entrance doors remain on the left side.
I rode a few of them in Bolivia, and I noticed that the floor isn’t as high as in the high-floored public transportation buses in the United States.
Left rear quarter view…
Side entrance door…
These “buses” are tiny (just look at he pictures with people in them), so the step probably isn’t as high as it appears, though its still a bit higher then your average intercity bus.
The high ground clearance was probably a good thing on japanese rural roads though, as i imagine they were still quite rough in those days.
Very cool find! There is a strong resemblance to many modern low floor bus designs in the nose. This is a very advanced and attractive design for its era.
I lowered the profile in Photoshop. Raised the height of the side glass, and dropped the height several inches in the wheel wells. With a wall at the rear to conceal the engine. Not far removed whatsoever, from many modern low floor designs.
You’re right Daniel – it would look right at home on the streets of today…
81 hp plus 25 passengers! I’d love to see some math on that. Safe to say this bus would never be used in the movie “speed.”
Very cool bus! would make a really neat small motorhome conversion
Am I missing something or does the first and second to last photo has a Mitsubishi badged bus?
Yes, this bus belongs to the Mitsubishi Oil Co – and they put a Mitsu logo on the front…didn’t fool anyone though…:-)
Love it, thanks for introducing me to this. Actually, I like the Parkway as well, there’s a direct visual link between it and the passenger car lines, the front lights area especially. Actually I like all of these Japanese mini-buses, having ridden on some of the more modern ones over the last few decades they are just night and day above the ubiquitous “cutaway” garbage we get/got over here.
Key words there being “more modern ones”, as the (alleged) 25 seater Coasters and Parkways of the ’70’s were hideously uncomfortable. They had zero suspension travel, lots of racket and the high floors made any tipping or bouncing – and much there was of both – exaggerated to hell. The little chainsaw engines meant they had the acceleration of a loaded mule.
And they were never really 25-seaters, just 25 suggested positions, many of which required no legs and many other of which required no ass.
With later bigger bodies, air suspension, air-conditioning, actual person-sized seats and a motor more up to the task, they are indeed not too bad at all.
Cute bus! I bet it did get up there for the driver during Japan’s steamy summers.
When I worked for the Bus Company, a few of the ones I helped to build used a Peugeot diesel under the floorboards to power an A/C compressor.
I bet that lil’ Pug had more torque than the main propulsion engine of these buses.
What a great-looking thing, and as usual from Mr On-The-Buses Brophy, something I’d never seen before.
Can’t imagine it was beloved of drivers though, as an 8-hour shift in summer would’ve left them medium rare, if not actually crispy. Perhaps less fishbowl and more fish cooker.
In proof of which they didn’t even give the poor bloke an opening window in the front, but did give a tiny roof vent – to let out the cooking smells!