Bus Stop Classics:  GMC ODC 210 Bus Chassis – The Basis for Brazil’s First Bus

Brazil has a long history of both urban and intercity motorcoach transportation.  Prior to the 1950’s, all buses were imported models, mostly conventional “bonnet buses” based on a truck chassis, with some being locally modified by Brazil’s innovative coachworks builders.  GM also imported various versions of its “Old Look” coach.  But that changed in 1951 when GM’s Brazil subsidiary developed its own Brazil-specific chassis – the Overseas Diesel Chassis (ODC) Model 210 (210 inches between the axles), from which Brazil’s first indigenous bus was born.  

The chassis was similar to GM’s other bus models, rear-engined, but was significantly modified by GM’s engineers in Brazil.  The main modification was to strengthen it to meet the challenges of Brazil’s less-developed roadways and to allow a longitudinal engine configuration.  In addition, the 4-71 two-stroke diesel engine was used rather than the larger 6-71 – perhaps due to its better fuel efficiency.  

While the chassis was developed fully in Brazil, GM had yet to establish the production facilities to build it there – so the chassis, engine, and transmission were assembled on GM’s Bus and Truck line in Pontiac Michigan, then shipped to Brazil.  But the body (35 feet in length), interior, electrics, etc, were all made in-country and the first completed bus, an urban transit model, rolled out of GM’s São Paulo factory in June 1951.    

Two years later an intercity model was introduced – both models bore a passing resemblance to GM’s Old Look.  I would hate to be on the wrong end of that front bumper…

In the mid-50’s coachbuilder Grassi put this body on the 210 chassis and marketed it as the “Gaucho”.

 GM Brazil and coachbuilder Striuli also introduced a 4104-like front and body for the 210 chassis (non-monocoque) with local modifications.

Caio-bodied “Road Runner”


1959 GM “Granluce” with body by Striuli


Into the late 1950’s and 60’s, GM and other coachbuilders supplied updated bodies to the basic 210 chassis.  Modifications were also made to use larger GM, Cummins, Scania, and Mercedes engines in a rear or front configuration.

GM Brazil exited the bus market in the late 1950’s – but the robust 210 chassis lived on with updated coachwork, some with their diesels replaced with electric motors and operated as trolley buses into the 1990’s.

Marcopolo Paradiso G7 on Scania chassis


Moving into the 1960’s and 70’s, larger, more modern chassis were becoming available – going forward Scania, Volvo, and Mercedes would become the preferred basis for Brazil’s coachbuilders – and remains so to this day.