Bus Stop Classics: 1996- 2002 Mauck/Advanced Bus Industries MSV/TSV – Little Bus/Big Limousine (LB/BL)…

CC’ers in North America may have came across this bus in the late 90’s or early 2000’s – it’s an Advanced Bus Industries (ABI) TSV 30 – a mid-sized, low floor coach used by only a few operators.  Though it failed to catch on, it does have an interesting “backstory” – where most buses started out as transportation models that were later adapted for recreational and motor home use, the MSV/TSV took the opposite path…

In the early-90’s, Andy Mauck was looking at the executive limousine market, and identified a niche – the then current executive sedans; the Lincoln Town car, Cadillac DeVille, Mercedes S Class or BMW 7 series, were all essentially 5 or 6 passenger vehicles.  If corporations wanted to carry more people, they were mostly limited to limousine conversions of those sedans or some type of existing body-on-frame van.  Mauck thought he could create an alternative – a vehicle larger than a van that could hold 8-10 executives in luxurious surroundings and comfort – and that would also be uniquely styled.  Thus was born the Mauck Special Vehicle (MSV) 1120 – “1” stood for model number, , “12” for the wheelbase (in ft), and “0” (or other number) was used to denote various option packages.

Mauck set up a factory in Worthington Ohio, a suburb of my home town of Columbus.  He partnered and received expertise from nearby Custom Coach Corporation – one of the largest bus conversion companies in North America.  The MSV was 25 feet long, 96 inches wide, constructed with a carbon steel frame and fitted with fiberglass body panels.  The suspension used air bags for a smooth ride.  Styling was very modern, with low floors and semi-gullwing front doors.  Two powertrains were offered; a GM 7.4 liter Vortec gas V8 or a 5.9 liter Cummins 6 cylinder diesel – both mounted in a “T” configuration in the rear.  GVWR was around 13,500 lbs.

While the body and some other components were unique, Mauck was able to tap into the existing supplier network for other items – some you may recognize; headlights were  from the Ford Aeromax conventional tractor, the taillights from the Jeep Grand Cherokee, fog lights from the Dodge Viper, and the windshield wipers from the Toyota Previa.

Interiors could be designed however the customer desired – most were outfitted for executive transport and as mobile offices.  Prices reflected this attention to detail, with most retailing for around $200K.

In 1998 Mauck sold the company to a group of investors who renamed it Advanced Bus Industries.  Looking to expand beyond the executive limousine market, they modified the MSV and developed two low floor, mid-sized urban transit coaches; one 25 feet and the other 30 feet – named TSV 25 and TSV 30.

Gillig Advantage (30 feet)

Eldorado Transmark RE (30 Feet)

Ford Econoline 21 Pax Cutaway

However, competition in the mid-sized market was much fiercer than the company envisioned – Gillig had its 30 ft Advantage model along with the 30 foot Transmark RE by Eldorado.  Then there were the ubiquitous (and cheap) “cutaways” – vans with aftermarket bus bodies.  Consequently, only five cities purchased TSVs, one being the hometown of Columbus (COTA).

Passengers initially gave them high marks for their low step-in height and smooth air suspension ride.  However, operators quickly discovered the TSV’s were not heavy-duty vehicles built to withstand the daily grind of an urban transit bus.  Columbus in particular had to constantly replace the front windshields as they would routinely shatter with the continuous pounding over rough pavement.  Most didn’t make it to five years of use before they were sold off.

But you can still see an occasional MSV/TSV on the road – their unique styling makes them easy to spot.  And if you’re an admirer, well, this one is for sale – just $50K.  Looks like a nice, stylish motor home for the well-off couple…

Or, if you have a little more set aside (over $100K) , Andy Mauck is still partnering with Custom Coach and is marketing his Mauck2, built off the Mercedes Sprinter chassis…