Here’s a bus that maybe a few of our “more senior” CC readers in North America (yours truly included) may have hitched a ride in back during the 1970’s – 80’s. It’s a Twin Coach TC-series intermediate coach manufactured by Highway Products Inc. from 1968 to 1975.
You may be wondering how this bus acquired its “Twin Coach” name, as that was a proprietary term that belonged first to the Fageol-Twin Coach Corp from the 1920’s until the early 50’s, and then to Flxible, which purchased Fageol’s bus and coach division in 1953. The name Twin Coach was initially used on a twin-engined bus made by Fageol in the 1920’s.
After the incorporation of Twin Coach, Flxible marketed its line of intercity coaches as “Flxible-Twin Coach” for most of the 1950’s – but dropped the name in 1963.
Highway Products Inc. was part of the remnants of the old Fageol Truck Corporation which had soldiered on after selling its bus division to Flxible. By the beginning of the 1960’s it was significantly smaller, and building mostly delivery vans, postal buses, marine engines, and pursuing military contracts. In 1970, it was sold to Alco Standard Co., which kept the Highway Products name.
In the late 1960’s the company identified an opportunity in the intermediate-sized intercity bus market, as the federal government was then starting to offer mass-transit grants to smaller cities and towns. They focused on a 25/29-seat passenger model, rear-engined, that was structurally capable of being fitted with a wheelchair lift/ramp as required under the forthcoming Urban Mass Transportation Act of 1970. They saw potential sales to small cities that didn’t need a larger coach, to major metro areas as a cross-town model, as an entry in the burgeoning para-transit market, and as an airport or university shuttle.
The company wanted to use the Twin Coach name, as in their view it still had some residual brand value. Flxible either gave the rights to the name back, or charged them a nominal fee. Dimensions were typical of small buses – 24 feet in length and 96 inches wide. The wheelbase remained the same on both the 25 and 29 pax models – the 25 seat model having a row of seats removed for a rear door.
The bus initially sold in fairly good numbers; the city of Parkersburg, West Virginia converted most of their fleet to TC-25/29s. But there was one drawback. The only engine offered was a Chrysler 440 cubic inch gas V8 – a commercial variant similar to the one used in Dodge trucks. It was rear-mounted in a longitudinal “T” manner. For some reason, the company never offered a diesel option. As a result, it was less competitive and sales dwindled.
After some 900 coaches were built, the company declared bankruptcy in 1975.
Interestingly, in 1970 Alco Standard also purchased the rights to the Cortez Motor Home from Clark Industries and the Kent, Ohio factory was used to build both buses and motor homes from 1970 – 75. Paul has an excellent post on the Cortez here.